Hey, friends! I just learned that my pocket-sized devotional “Morning Moments with God” costs only $4.82 (hard cover) on Amazon right now! Get your copy before the sale ends.
Here’s a sample of the contents.
Lord, thank You for Your never-ending presence.
Last weekend I traveled to Manitoba. This weekend I’m in Edmonton, Alberta. Thankfully my cell phone enables me to communicate with my loved ones almost everywhere I go. This proved handy on the way home from a family vacation.
Driving in three vehicles meant the possibility of being separated, so we made plans to meet in a specific city for dinner should that happen. Our son arrived first so he chose a restaurant and phoned us with directions. We, in turn, called our daughter.
My 80-year-old mom observed the goings-on from the backseat and laughed. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “I’m amazed at how these new-fangled phones keep everyone in touch so easily.”
I agreed. Nearly everywhere I go, whether in North America or overseas, my family and I can stay connected. Fantastic!
Know what’s far more fantastic than that? Wherever believers go on earth, we’re connected to God. “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast,” says Psalm 139:7-10.
Let’s let this knowledge encourage us today. Because He lives in us, we have constant access to His presence and power. Even when we’re beyond cell coverage. Amazing!
This very moment, thank God for His never-ending presence in your life.
My good friend Twila Belk has written a devotional titled The Power to Be. The copy she mailed arrived hours before we left for Nepal last month, so I didn’t have a chance to open it until this week. Perfect timing, it was.
I mentioned in Monday’s blog that finding my new normal is an adventure. My life is so, so different than what I’d imagined at this stage. On Wednesday, for instance, I hoisted my new laundry bag onto my back like a giant backpack and carried it a block to the marina laundromat. I loaded two washers, paid with a nifty credit-card-like gizmo, and then walked along the river as the machines did their 30-minute job.
An hour later, after the dryer had completed its cycle, I took my plastic laundry basket from the boat to the facility. I folded our clothes and towels, loaded them into the basket, and walked the block back to my boat. This block, by the way, takes me through the commercial parking lot beside our marina. I passed weed-whacking landscapers, dog-walking seniors, athletic-looking cyclists, and two Canadian geese enroute.
I needed to wash our sheets, but I skipped that task because I knew I wouldn’t have time to remake the bed. Have you ever tried making a bed while kneeling on it? Try it sometime, pretending there’s no access on the sides or at the head and foot. My bed’s a V-berth, and the mattress fits snugly between wood paneled walls on every side.
Yes, life looks different now, and it takes a bit of getting used to. Making those adjustments coupled with the craziness of the past four months of purging, moving, writing a Bible study and then going overseas for four weeks has left my mind in a flutter. It’s not a bad thing that’s causing insurmountable stress or sleep loss or anything like that. I’m just feeling a tad distracted these days.
Enter Twila’s devotional. I think she wrote it especially for me.
So far, every day’s meditation has been my favorite. The latest quoted Exodus 3:14-15: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM who I AM. This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.’”
Twila’s reflection on this verse spoke deeply to me. She wrote, “I may not retain everything I learned in elementary school, but I do remember that “I AM” is present tense. And knowing that God’s name is present tense gives me a sense of peace. When he says I AM, he means that’s who he is right now. Today. Time makes no difference in who he was, is, or will be.”
As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Saskatchewan. In a half hour, my hubby and I will hit the road in a rental car, headed for a little rural church in Manitoba. We’ll speak four times this weekend on marriage and family-related topics. We’ve taught together in times past, but never for a full weekend on these topics. I enjoy speaking and teaching; Gene—not so much. He’s an administrator, servant kind-of-guy. This weekend will stretch both of us. More change. More growth. Why not? I think we’re on a roll in that department!
As I look back over the past few weeks, I’m grateful to have experienced the great I AM. As I look forward to these weekend, I know I’ll experience Him again. Here are a few thoughts I’ll leave with you today in that regard. Take them and apply them to your situation.
I AM faithful to help you successfully navigate change.
I AM the source of courage and strength you need to face new challenges.
I AM the source of wisdom you need for the problems you face.
I AM the One who supplies perfectly for every need.
“I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying for he speaks peace to his faithful people.”
-Psalm 85:8 NLT
I value routine. Our recent move has shown me how much I rely on it—and how much I miss it when it’s gone.
For instance, for the past two years I’ve done my gym workout from 5:30-6:30 AM several mornings each week. Moving meant canceling my gym membership on February 27th. Buying a membership at a new gym close to our marina hasn’t happened yet thanks to our travel schedule. As a result, I haven’t had a decent workout for six weeks. It’ll be another month before my travel schedule slows down. I’ll be able to re-establish an exercise routine then, but heaven help me in the meantime.
A little voice in my head says, “You’re losing ground in your wellness journey. You’ll never be able to get back on track.”
Prior to our move, my office was in our home. Now it’s an hour’s drive from where we live. I’ve made this trip six times in the past week. I envision writing for hours every day from the boat when life settles down, but for now I need to pack and ship books to upcoming speaking events as well as use my many file-cabinet-resources to prepare for them—and all those things are in my office.
A little voice in my head says, “Hoping to write for hours undisturbed on the boat is a pipe dream. Now you’re going to spend your life driving the #1 Highway.”
Before we moved to the boat, Gene and I enjoyed an eating routine that worked well for us. I cooked the bigger meal of the day at noon, and he’d run up the stairs from his office to join me for lunch. Now, because we drive an hour to work, we pack our lunches. We haven’t done this for decades! On the days I travel to the office, I need to plan ahead for supper—either put something in a crockpot or plan something easy to fix when we get home. What will happen to our routine of eating the bigger meal midday as opposed to the end of the day? And how will this affect our weight goals? Honestly, I haven’t had time to figure this out yet. I feel like my eating disciplines have fallen off the rails especially in light of having experienced wonky mealtimes overseas for the past month.
That little voice in my head says, “You’re know this wellness journey you’ve enjoyed? Well, it’s not going to be so easy anymore.”
Even my quiet time with the Lord has been impacted. Before the move, I enjoyed my sacred space—on my leather loveseat in our family room—every morning after my gym workout and before I began work. To say I haven’t figured out how to re-establish my spiritual routine is an understatement. It took a hit while we traveled and I feel like it’s still floundering.
That voice whispers, “You’ve become a spiritual delinquent.”
That voice could lead me down the path of discouragement if I listen too long. In the midst of my upheaval, I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit who speaks with a kinder, gentler, more encouraging voice. He says, “Don’t worry. A routine is nice and it’s comfortable, but it’s not the end-all. I am Your rock. I am Your stability. Keep Your focus on Me, and I’ll lead you through each day one step at a time.”
In the midst of change and loss of my precious routine, I choose to trust my Lord. He’s the One who led me to this change and He’ll lead me through it. He speaks peace, and as I listen to His voice rather than the negative one, I will experience His wonderful gift of peace.
Question: Are you a lover of routine as I am? How do you feel when life shakes up your routine? What helps you cope?
I’ve traveled more miles than I can count in the past four weeks. My journey took me to Hong Kong, Nepal, Bangladesh, Turkey, Poland, Belgium, and Iceland. Granted, four of those stops were airport layovers, but hey, my feet touched the soil. That’s gotta count for something.
I wish y’all could have traveled with me. I shared a few photos on FB, but it’s impossible to share sounds—voices speaking foreign languages, horns honking, bus motors revving, birds singing, monkeys screeching, music blaring, Islamic calls to prayer. It’s also impossible to share smells—diesel fumes, mildew, curry, cardamom and cinnamon, and unmentionables.
Many of you have said that you looked forward to hearing about the trip, so here’s a brief summary of highlights:
Making the pilgrimage with my daughter and her husband to the hospital where she was born has enriched my life. Because she left Nepal when she was three days old, she said she felt like a piece of her life’s puzzle was always missing. This trip filled in the gap for her. Also, meeting their World Vision child and hearing about the difference sponsorship has made brought huge smiles.
The bed immediately to the right was where I spent the night with Stephanie after her birth.
Visiting our Nepalese villagers, being welcomed into their humble homes, and becoming friends with some of their grown children exceeded my hopes. Learning that they can hear the Gospel being broadcast on their radios left me in awe. When we lived there in the 80s, Nepal was the world’s only official Hindu country and proselytization was banned.
Grateful for time spent with former neighbours.
Traveling by jeep on narrow, rugged roads hugging steep cliffs helped me develop a deeper prayer life. (Hearing the news of an Indian school bus careening over a cliff and killing more than two dozen children earlier this week left me grieved but all-the-more grateful for our safety).
Guardrails–sometimes, sometimes not.
Seeing the poorest-of-the-poor Christian brothers and sisters dance to worship music during a church service moved me to joy. Their actions led me to question whether I understand freedom in Christ to the same degree.
Staying hunkered in a Bangladesh hotel under armed guard brought a bit of apprehension and a stark reminder that foreigners make good targets in many lands.
Discovering that a Canadian office made a mistake in issuing our transit visa needed to travel through India—a mistake that meant spending an extra night in Dhaka and purchasing new airline tickets at great expense—caused me to shake my head in disbelief while choosing to trust that the unexpected is never a surprise to God.
Seeing heavily armed military personnel patrolling in two airports where terrorists have killed innocent travelers brought a sense of vulnerability.
Presenting the Gospel to 85 men and women—many of whom were unbelievers—at a meeting in Poland brought excitement in knowing God used that event to plant and water spiritual seeds.
Engaging in numerous one-on-one conversations and prayer with our ministry staff on the field and at our annual conference reminded me how God trusts ordinary people with extraordinary Kingdom-building work.
And finally, having to edit and rewrite parts of my new Bible study while traveling left me completely thrust on God for help and strength. He pulled me through.
To those of you who prayed for our health and safety—thank you. Traveling in places like we’ve been means encountering water and food laden with bacteria that can cause all kinds of problems for our North American gut. I’m grateful to say we had no issues. We did, however, shoot up a lot of arrow prayers: “God, protect our tummies as we accept the food served by our gracious hosts.”
To those of you who prayed for jetlag to be a non-issue—thank you. Typically, jetlag takes one day to recover for every hour of time difference. Nepal is nearly 13 hours ahead of us, but we overcame jetlag in about three days. Now we’re doing it in reverse, and I’m hoping for it to be as easy.
I’ll spend the next four weekends—beginning tomorrow—travelling for speaking engagements all the while trying to learn my new normal living on a sailboat. I’ll start devotional blogging again next week. I’d really appreciate knowing those prayers are still coming as I shift my focus back to ministry on North American turf.
My last visit to Nepal was in 2016. One afternoon I walked down a back street gutted with potholes. My path resembled an obstacle course marked with sleeping dogs, a stray cow or two, and random piles of rocks and red bricks. But as I approached a T-intersection, I saw potted flowers teeming with yellow blossoms. Beauty amidst chaos.
Life’s like that sometimes.
Relationships break. Health fails. Financial concerns strike. The only certainty is uncertainty.
Our mindset tends to focus on the muddle: Potholes. Random obstructions. Dirt. Fixating on these things habitually is like extending an open-ended invitation to fear, discouragement, and stress.
May I make a suggestion?
When you feel surrounded by chaos and uncertainty, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see splashes of beauty in their midst. I guarantee you—they’re there. They might show up in a physical way, like the yellow blossoms I saw on the back street. They may come in someone’s encouraging words. They might be one of God’s promises to give you peace and power when you need it most.
Be intentional and watch for those splashes of beauty. They don’t need to be big to be a blessing.
Tell me—what splashes of beauty have you already seen?
Today, my husband and I are at the same hospital—with Stephanie and her husband Daniel. This was the fulfillment of a life’s dream for her. She said, “I’ve always felt as though a piece of my life’s puzzle was missing. Now it’s complete.”
We took a tour of the hospital and the area surrounding it. Steph saw the hospital room where she spent her first night and the house where she spent one night before the arduous jeep ride to Kathmandu. We delivered dozens of donated balloons and stuffed animals to the social services department for distribution among the children in the pediatric ward, and a couple dozen receiving blankets to the maternity ward.
We lived in the upstairs of this house for three months prior to Stephanie’s birth.
We also took a little walk in the Tansen bazaar. What fun to strike up conversations with people sitting in the sunshine. One lady invited us to her rooftop and served us chai. Another group of women enjoyed posing for a “photo op,” as they called it.
This is Gene’s and my fourth trip to Nepal in ten years. Each time we return I feel more at home. I love the people and am so blessed to call so many my friends.
This trip is especially meaningful because we share it with Stephanie and Daniel—thanks to their generosity. What a gift.
Late last August, I signed a contract to write a new Bible study for First Place 4 Health. I had no way of knowing that I’d be purging my entire household and moving aboard a sailboat while in the throes of writing it a few months later.
Purging 36 years’ worth of accumulated belongings is a fulltime job. So is writing a Bible study. The March 1 deadline came and went, and I had to ask for an extension to complete it. My goal is to get ‘er done by Wednesday afternoon because I take off for Kathmandu on Thursday morning. Nothing like a little pressure to keep one focused, yes?
Besides the purging, packing, moving, and writing, I drove to Alberta to spend Christmas with family, spent a week in Texas at a First Place 4 Health wellness retreat, and hosted our International Messengers booth for three days at Missions Fest Vancouver in hopes of finding volunteers to help with our evangelistic summer camps.
The pressure’s been intense for weeks. At times I’ve wondered how in the world I could continue especially with producing the manuscript. On those days, God sent me a visual reminder to keep my focus on Him.
I lived in a city until 10 days ago. One afternoon I stepped outside the house, looked up, and saw a bald eagle soaring. Now I live in a marina directly across from a bird sanctuary. One morning last week a bald eagle sat on a transmission pole near our dock.
I spoke at a women’s retreat on Quadra Island over the weekend. Traveling there meant catching a BC ferry near Delta. On that drive last Wednesday, I saw at least 15 bald eagles perched in a tree beside the highway. Less than a mile down the road, I saw a farm yard with three or four eagles sitting in every tree.
Yesterday afternoon while driving home from the retreat, I saw three bald eagles soaring over the treetops near the highway.
This morning a good friend sent me a FB link containing several photos taken yesterday. Each photo contained one or more bald eagles.
Every time I’ve seen the eagles, this Scripture passage has come to mind:
“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-30 NLT)
God’s got my attention, and He’s got my back too. I resist the temptation to fall into fear or discouragement. I choose to keep my eyes on Him and to trust Him to strengthen me to complete the work He’s called me to do during this crazy busy season.
No doubt some of you reading this are feeling pressure too. May I pray for you?
“Father God, You know our limitations, and You will never give us more than we can bear. Would You please infuse my weary friends today with supernatural strength? Give them the power they need to do what You’ve asked them to do. Grant them joy in the journey as they experience Your empowerment and promises in new ways. Thank You, thank You for Your kindness and understanding. Amen.”
I love, love, love how God’s Word shows me something new every time I read it. So here’s the latest new nugget. It’s from Daniel 1:8—”But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief official for permission to eat other things instead.”
Daniel was taken captive by the Babylonian army and later handpicked to train for a three-year period with the possibility of serving in the royal court. The king assigned Daniel and the other young men a daily ration of the finest food and wine from the palace kitchens. He thought he was doing the fellows a favor, but Daniel didn’t agree.
Daniel made up his mind—he resolved, determined—not to eat those rich foods. He respectfully asked the officer in charge if he could pursue other options that would be better for his health.
The four words “made up his mind” grabbed my attention. That’s the way I’d describe my journey to better health. I made up my mind to exercise more, make healthier food choices, and eat less of them. I made up my mind to treat my body with respect and to make it strong. Resolving to lose weight once and for all gave me the ability to persevere when the journey felt long and tedious.
More recently, Gene and I made up our minds to live simply and be better stewards of our finances. That led to purging our household of belongings and moving onto a sailboat. I know, I know—a bit drastic perhaps, but we’re doing what God has made abundantly clear is His will for us at this time. (We move the last of our few belongings aboard tomorrow).
Making up our minds to do something can make a huge positive difference in our lives:
We make up our minds to forgive that person who hurt us several years ago. She might never recognize her role or ask for forgiveness, but we forgive for our own sake—to release bitterness and walk in freedom.
We make up our minds to stop buying stuff on a whim. Doing so makes us better stewards of our finances and helps us stick to a budget.
We make up our minds to spend time in God’s Word every day if only for a few minutes. We then grow in the knowledge of the truth so we can better detect the lies Satan throws our way.
We make up our minds to watch less TV in the evenings. We end up with more time for our spouse, family, and friends. More time to go for a walk or read a good book. And we might even get to bed at a more reasonable hour.
We make up our minds to step beyond our comfort zone. We say yes to something God asks us to do even if we’re scared. Our faith grows and we experience Him in new ways.
When we make up our minds to take a particular course of action, we take a stand and don’t look back. We say, “I’m done with those things that keep me fenced in, and I’m ready to make a change.” Then we pursue an alternative action that helps us stick to our resolve.
So, my friend. Tell me about a time you made up your mind to pursue a course of action. What was the outcome?
Maybe you’ve been toying with making a change recently but haven’t taken the necessary first step. What needs to happen so you can make up your mind and begin moving forward?
It’s no surprise—our days seldom go as planned. Do we regard the unforeseen as annoying interruptions, or do we look for God’s purposes in them?
My friend Barb has mastered the latter. Every morning she offers her time and to-do list to the Lord. When (not if) interruptions come, she thanks Him for controlling every detail of her day, and she asks what He has in mind so she can participate in His purposes. Her strategy works. God blesses people through her in amazing ways.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” This truth applies to the major decisions we make, but it also applies to everyday life. We make our plans, but the Lord determines the direction they take and the details involved.
Let’s commit to viewing the unforeseen through God’s eyes. Let’s embrace whatever He brings and seek to partner with Him to accomplish His purposes.
Take a moment now to give God complete control over your day.
I basked in July’s sunshine, enjoying a cup of coffee as I read my Bible. It was my fiftieth birthday, and I wanted to celebrate in God’s sweet presence.
“Father, would You please give me a special verse that will carry me through the next 50 years?” I asked. Psalm 23:1 immediately came to mind—“The LORD is my shepherd. I have everything I need” (NLT).
Simple but profound, yes?
Indeed, Jesus is a shepherd to those who follow Him. “I am the good shepherd,” He declared to His disciples (John 10:11). And then He said it again to ensure they heard not only with their ears but also with their hearts. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me…” (john 10:14).
Jesus is my shepherd. I meditate on this truth whenever financial insecurity or ministry responsibilities feel overwhelming. I call it to mind when I need energy for the tasks ahead or wisdom for a problem that leaves me confounded. I am His sheep; my well-being is His responsibility. He holds me. What more do I need?
Jesus is my shepherd. These four words bring calm to my chaos, like now as I continue downsizing while writing the Bible study under deadline. I will trust Him and not be afraid.
Jesus is my shepherd. How do these words speak to you today?
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