Reflections at the Foot of the Cross

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” -- Luke 23:34a At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!” ― Isaac Watts I will never forget the day I gave my life to Christ.  It was a sweltering Sunday morning in June—Children’s Day—and our little Baptist church was packed.  I sat fidgeting on the front pew next to my father. I was eight years old and I had made up my mind. This was the day. And so when Pastor Lewis offered the invitation to discipleship as he had so many other Sundays before, I leaned over and whispered in Daddy’s ear, “I want to be saved.”  He smiled and nodded, and I nervously stepped forward. Pastor Lewis knelt down, cradled me in his arms and, after a series of questions, welcomed me into the family of God. I was saved! That was the first of many “salvation” moments.  My seeming inability to "get it right" made me think that perhaps it hadn’t taken the first time.  And over the years I’d rededicate my life to Christ and then rededicate my rededication. (I attended college in the 70s. Need I say more?) I spent time these days leading up to Resurrection Sunday reflecting on the greatest event in all of history—the Death, Burial…

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Finding God in Interruptions

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.  Romans 8:28 TPT I’d made the decision! After a year and a half of near-constant pain and cortisone shots that were becoming less and less effective. After standing in my bathroom one day in so much pain all I could do was cry (and then get angry at myself for crying).  After being given all my medical options.  “You have to decide how much pain you can live with,” Dr. S had said.  “We can try to manage the pain, but the only way to be pain-free is. . .” After years of praying and believing for a re-creative miracle, I prayerfully decided to have total knee replacement surgery. I had completed practically all the pre-surgical requirements:  blood work, total joint replacement class, exercises to strengthen quads.  All that was left was to get clearance from my dentist and a check-up with my primary care physician.  I was all set! “No surgery for you, my dear!”  Dr. Hill said. “You have an abscessed tooth.”  The look in my eyes must have shown utter disbelief coupled with disappointment because he proceeded to paint a very graphic picture of what might happen if I had surgery and got an infection (a picture, I might add, I did not need to envision). …

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Jesus Loves Me!

Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! Ephesians 3:18,19 The Passion Translation It was a God-ordained moment that August morning in 2005.  A rare moment when my mother and I were completely alone in her hospital room. No doctors prognosticating.  No nurses prodding.  No visitors praying.  Just the two of us, engulfed in God's peace.  A moment-–poignant and precious—that I will always hold in my heart. I gingerly climbed in the bed with Mommy and snuggled close.  She was tired. She hadn’t slept for days as if  she knew that if she closed her eyes, she’d awaken in the Presence of God.  Not that she was afraid of death; she wasn’t.  She’d seen beyond this earthly place and knew Who awaited her.  All she needed to know now was that I’d be OK. I snuggled closer and began singing:           Jesus, loves me this I know;           For the Bible tells me so;           Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong. Mom shifted in the bed. I continued:          Yes, Jesus loves me;          Yes, Jesus loves me. . . She looked at me with knowing and sang, her…

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Unapologetically (Sorry, Not Sorry)

"But God's amazing grace has made me what I am! And his grace to me was not fruitless. In fact, I worked harder than all the rest, yet not in my own strength, but God's, for his empowering grace is poured out upon me." 1 Corinthians 15:10 The Passion Translation  She’d answer the phone speaking in tongues! “Hello, Mother Clark!” I’d say. She’d laugh with such delight as she always did when I called, and she’d say (as she always did), “Ah, Sister Deborah! Daughter, I was just thinking about you!”  She’d barely give me a chance to ask how she was or if she needed anything before she’d go straight prophetic on me, give me a “thus saith the Lord,” and then pray for me.  I’d hang up, eyes filled with tears and heart filled with gratitude. I admit I don’t remember a lot of those conversations now. But there are some that I will never forget, for the words lodged deep in my spirit.   They didn’t necessarily take root at the time, but from time to time now those words returned to me to heal, to shift my perspective, to settle me more deeply, to strengthen my resolve. I’d come home from work one afternoon and called Mother Clark just to check on her. She began telling me about a segment of the Oprah Show about birth order that she’d just watched. Then she said, “You are bold, full of dazzle and sparkle! Full of life! Gifted…

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The Heart and Art of Rest

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex. 33:14 “Almost everything will work again if you unplug if for a few minutes, including you.” Anne Lamott Introduction The waves danced at my feet and I could feel myself sinking into the soft, white sand.  This was a feeling I’d grown to love, a feeling I hadn't had for a long time.  And  I delighted in every tiny grain of sand, every ebb and flow of the waves as I walked along the Gulf shore, airpods in ear, listening to one of my favorite playlists, and feeling the kiss of the sun on my face. I hadn’t had a beach vacation in years, and I had been looking forward to sitting at the water's edge, wiggling my toes in the sand and, as terns and sandpipers skittered by, listening to God speak. The beach was  always a place of renewal and rejuvenation for me.I didn’t realize how much I needed it.  Hadn’t realized just how exhausted I was. Hadn’t realized how much the busyness of my life had depleted me of energy, motivation, focus. The Lord had spoken to me before I’d left Cincinnati that this time away would be a time of recalibration.  So I was intentional to unplug – no social media, no emails, no texts messages, no phone calls.   I was also intentional not to fill my vacation days with activity. I didn’t want to get sucked into the…

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Live Wisely, Live Well

“…But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect – life in its fullness until you overflow.” John 10:10b The Passion Translation  Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!  Psalm 90:12 The Message “The trick is to enjoy life.  Don’t wish away days waiting for better ones ahead." Unknown It was a quiet Sunday evening. The big brown chair in my living room embraced me like two loving arms and cradled me.  I was relaxing in front of the television when the phone rang.  I checked the caller ID to see that the call was from my friend in Cleveland. We had not spoken with each other in a few weeks and I elated to hear from him. But the voice on the other end was not my friend’s.  Immediately I knew. “My father passed away yesterday morning. . .” My heart sank, and pools of tears filled my eyes. “He always spoke of you -- of how much you encouraged and inspired him.   Your friendship meant a lot to him.  You inspired him to fight.” I was stunned.  Yes, I knew he was sick.  He had been battling a rare form of cancer for well over two years.  The last time we'd spoken, he sounded better than he had in a long while. He was in a place of peace and filled with a hope and faith that made my heart swell.  I prayed  with him; we…

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