Psalm 23 Virginia Style

I am the Lord’s little lamb,
He meets all my needs.

He walks with me to rest in green pastures,
He meets my most basic needs.
He encourages and strengthens my mind,
Because of His greatness.
He leads me in the right way.

When my path leads me to walk in scary places,
I don’t have to be afraid.
Because He is with me still.
His direction and correction
Bring me comfort not pain.

He puts a feast before me
While the scary people stand by.
He blesses me over and over,
I can’t contain all of them.

I can rest assured that His goodness and love
will be with me as long as forever lasts.
And I will get to dwell with Him forever.



Whatcha doing, doing doing?

Have you ever noticed humans are always doing something? Always.  Do you ever wonder why we’re called human beings instead of human doings?

Ever notice Christians lead the pack in doing? It’s true. We’re always doing. Doing things for the church, doing things for God. Doing things for our neighbor. Doing things because we feel guilty if we don’t do something every second of every day.

If the church posts a need for workers, we’re signing up. We’re overbooked, over-stressed,  completely cranky to everyone all the time. We suffer with health issues because we won’t just take a break and rest our weary souls and bodies.  We have no more time for anything and yet, oh look there is another need for nursery workers, we’re already teaching Sunday school, singing on the praise team and serving as a greeter, baking snacks for Sunday morning fellowship time, but we’re sure we can squeeze in one more thing because “they need me. God needs me!”  And off we rush to do one more thing for Jesus all the while thinking, “Man! God’s sure blessed to have me to do all this work for Him.”

We still find ourselves wondering if we’re doing enough. Are we doing enough to please Him? To prove to other Christians and the world that we are His disciple?  Are we trying to prove our love for Him, or are we trying to just love Him at all? Are we trying to force the changes we need in our lives by our service to Him?

Do we really think if we just do one more thing, take one more Bible study, lead one more small group, volunteer for that extra Sunday in the nursery, deliver meals to those who visited is going to make God happy?

How many times do we mistake our doing things for God for being with Him?

It is so easy to forget in our rush to get the next thing done that we don’t stop to ask Him what He wants us to do. We’re simply to busy with things for God we can’t stop to chat with Him.

I’m not so sure we’re really doing them for God at all. No, I think we’re doing them for self, so we will feel better about our sin. The sin we harbor in our heart and hope if we do enough for Him He won’t notice or if He does He won’t care. Because “look at all the wonderful things you’ve done for Me! Man, am I blessed to have you!!”

I’ll let you in on a little secret I’ve learned. Lean in close so I don’t have to shout. That is called idolatry. We’re making our schedule an idol, we use it to replace time spent listening to our Savior’s voice. We’re making an idol of our own self, we are choosing to serve our flesh over serving the one who died in the flesh for us.

In fact, He didn’t just die in the flesh for us. No, in the whole process He securely killed our flesh! And made us, by His very Spirit, alive to Him.

He did not make us alive so we could rush around, wearing ourselves out in service to Him. As if our doing things for God could ever take the place of Him! He redeemed us to live a life of abundance.

A life lived in abundance of Joy!
A life lived in abundance of Peace!
A life lived in abundance of Love!
A life lived in abundance of Gentleness!
A life lived in abundance of LIFE!

Because He is our life! He is MY life. The gospel of John tells me that apart from Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5)

I can do nothing. There is nothing I can do apart from Him living in me! Nothing. I can’t even make my heart beat one more time, or take my next breath apart from Him.

Last night I was pondering all the things I’ve been choosing to do of late to grow in Him. To grow up in Him. And I was a little teary because it is such a slow process. I am too blind to see the changes He is making in me, all I can see are the old behaviors I want so much to be rid of.

So I asked Him in a teary prayer if all the things I’ve been doing have worked to bring about the changes I need so desperately.

Want to know what He said?

“Virginia, your “doing” doesn’t change you. I change you.”

He changes me and He changes you one obedient step at a time. When we rest in Him and in Him abide, we will begin to listen to His heartbeat for us and we will follow His voice because we are His sheep.

So all the things you’ve been doing to gain acceptance with God, stop. Just stop. Seek His face. Seek to hear His voice whisper in your dear ear, “This is the way, my child, walk in it!” (Isaiah 30:21).  And find in Him the rest your body and weary soul needs so desperately.

Toilet Paper Prayer

toilet-paperYou know some months are just harder than others, right? Some moments are just harder than others. At least that is true for me.

A few weeks ago I was in one of those hard months with plenty of hard moments. There were times I wanted nothing more than to cry UNCLE! every second of every day with every breath I took.

That was the time when my debit card was on life support, and I was out of cash. And we had three rolls of toilet paper and two weeks until pay day. I wondered if I would need to use some of my rationed savings to get more before we ran out completely.

I decided against it. Because three double rolls and two weeks, surely a little family of 4 could make it work, right? Especially since 3 of us were out of the house for the better part of every day.

Piece of cake.

But I have girls. Teen age girls. Girls who think they need to use a plethora of toilet paper. In less than a full week we had blown through all three rolls. One roll didn’t even last 24 hours.

This Momma wasn’t happy. At all.

I informed my family, mostly my offspring, that I would not be purchasing more toilet paper until Friday. Not going to do it. We have kleenex, use that. Momma isn’t spending another penny.

Thirty-six hours later I found myself praying for of all things, toilet paper. I listed out my needs to in prayer, and topping the list was toilet paper. Toilet paper that my children squandered. Toilet paper that is not a necessity of life, a nice feature don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of toilet paper. But it isn’t vital to my life, especially when we had other things we could use just as well.

But I prayed for toilet paper. I didn’t pray that God would supply us with toilet paper. I just listed it as a need. Along with cereal. And something equally mundane that now escapes my memory.

I somehow knew that this would be a monumental prayer and it would have massive consequences. I knew in some ways this would be a day of turning for me.

The day wore on and I occasionally thought about my toilet paper prayer but mostly I forgot about it. When it came to mind, I mostly thought what a dumb thing to pray about.

That afternoon, I picked up my leather jacket to hang it up when I remembered I had noticed a piece of paper in the inner pocket when I put my phone away  in there earlier. It was an old folded, receipt from Hobby Lobby. Curious I unfolded it to see what I had purchased and when.

That’s when I saw it.

A fresh, crisp ten dollar bill.

“Oh Lord! That is You.”

And God said, “toilet paper.”

And I said, “Yarn and coffee.”

God said, “toilet paper.”

Every time I thought of that ten dollars, I heard God say, “toilet paper”. I argued some more. Why exactly I’m not sure. Immediately when I saw it I knew what it was for. God kept just saying, “toilet paper.”

Then He changed, “Be faithful.” and I was reminded of the verse about being faithful in small things and I would be found faithful in big things.

If toilet paper isn’t a small thing I’m not sure what is. Talk about your mundane, small things. Not necessary. Not vital. Not a real need.

This taught me one very important lesson. One I had known before but not KNOWN. I knew it was true, but now I experientially know it to be true. This is one lesson I won’t soon forget.

God notices. God cares. God provides.

Why do we think something is too mundane to pray for? That God really doesn’t notice or care about that? Expect God to provide for something we’ve squandered, something we could have purchased for ourselves without a second thought but we chose not to?

Those are the very things we have to pray for if we ever hope to see God work in the big things. These are the prayers God loves to answer. Those prayers that say, “God, here is my need. You have the supply. I’m just going to sit here and watch You work on my behalf.”

He shows up big. And my faith grows big. And the next time I need toilet paper, I’ll know I can come to Him with my mundane need and find His supply.

Friend, if I can ask Him and trust Him for toilet paper, what makes you think you can’t ask and trust Him with the needs of your heart? Dear friend, He does the same for you! I’m not His favorite. He doesn’t show up big for me because He carries my picture in His wallet. He loves to show up for anyone who in humble boldness comes to Him with their need; leaves it at His feet, and watches in eager anticipation for His supply.

So go ahead, take your mundane prayers and your big ones, to His throne and you will find grace to help you in your time of need.

Trust me.

The Vine (John 15:1-2)

20160422_171041Jesus is the only True Vine and I am to abide (accept without objection) in Him.

I can through my own selfish, sinful desires abide in false vines. These can be anything I look to in substitution for obedience to Jesus, my True Vine. Anytime I choose my own way I am abiding in a false vine. Anytime I do my own thing, even if it is a good thing, if I do it apart of my life in Jesus, my only True Vine, I am abiding in a false vine.

I will bear fruit when I abide in alternate vines but it will not be good fruit. The fruit I will produce will be bad, rotten and downright evil. They will come from a life lived entirely for self. And myself is pretty rotten.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

Wow! To abide in false vines means we  won’t inherit the kingdom! That to me is not a good trade off!

The fruit of my sinful nature are not pleasant–not even for a short time. They bring only pain and suffering. There is no peace for those who practice the above fleshly deeds. None. There is no peace. There is no rest. There is no transforming. Just unfruitful deeds of unrighteousness, strife and chaos.

Every branch that is in Him but isn’t bearing fruit He removes because they are not doing what God created them to do.

Taking away could be simply that He stops their self-serving ministry. Or it could be a bit more drastic  as Him just taking them home because they have lost their effectiveness for Him.

We are told in Isaiah 42:8 that God won’t share His glory with anyone else. Not even His child. Not even a branch that is attached to the True Vine.

When we repeatedly and consciously choose to go our own way, abide in false gods of our own making, we are of no earthly good to the kingdom of God. So He uses His prerogative to remove everything from our lives until all we have is Him. When we still choose to abide in false gods, He will simply remove our feet from earth.

When we choose to abide in Him and allow His life to flow through us, we will bear fruit. We will not produce this fruit. This fruit is something we bear through spending time attached to His life giving Vine, and allowing His Spirit to run like sap through us, nourishing us, and nurturing us. It is God and God alone who can produce good fruit. Any fruit I produce in myself will be rotten, because I just can’t be good or produce good on my own. I need Jesus for that.

As we bear fruit, He lovingly prunes us.

I love roses. I know if I want a lot of flowers I have to keep careful watch and prune the dead flowers off. So that it will produce more of the desired flowers.

Jesus is the same way! He loves us and wants us to bear fruit. As we do that He lovingly prunes us, removes the dead fruit, and removes any dead spots. He also watches closely to see if there are places that are just growing and not bearing fruit. He prunes those back as well.

If we did not go through this time of pruning, Jesus would not love us. And He does!

Also if He didn’t love us enough to prune us back, we would stagnant in our growth. We would stop bearing fruit and then we would be taken away.

“Knowledge puffs up”. If all we’re doing is growing, we are getting more knowledge if that is all we have, without adding understanding and converting those to wisdom, we are being puffed up with pride.

Jesus can’t abide a prideful branch. (Isaiah 42:8)

His pruning is for our good. If we are growing tall and leafy, but aren’t bearing fruit, He will prune us back. So we can bear fruit.

I just pruned back a rose bush that was using all of the nutrients I’ve given it to grow tall, and it wasn’t using any of it to produce the flowers I love so dearly.  So just as I pruned back my pretty, but unfruitful rose bush, Jesus will prune us back. Even if we are growing. I planted the rose bush so I could enjoy the flowers, not see a tall rose bush with a lot of growth and leaves but no flowers.

I want the fertilizer, mulch, sunlight, and water I use to take care of my rosebushes to be used to produce blooms–not just a leafy bush.

Jesus is the same way. He doesn’t want us to merely look good, He wants us to be transformed by His sap (the Holy Spirit) so we are good. He wants to produce fruit in us that will make people stop to admire Him and glorify Him.

No one stops to admire a rosebush that isn’t producing roses! No one praises the gardener for his rose bush that is tall and leafy but has no flowers on it.

That isn’t the point of a rose. And it isn’t the point of a believer either.

We are told in Ephesians 2:10 that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared for us beforehand.Before the creation of the world!

These good works bear fruit! This fruit is what God will use to draw a hurting world to Himself because good fruit glorifies Him and not the branch.

We can’t produce the fruit on our own. He produces it in us and we just have to bear it. This takes abiding, fixing ourselves, stationing ourselves in Him and making no objection to His work in us.



All the Spiritual Blessings.


I’m kicking it old school today.  I’m going all the way back to the very basics. I’ve spent some time last night and this afternoon studying who I am in Christ. Scripture is full of verses that speak to that very issue.

Yet so many of us live defeated lives because we don’t take the time to study and then to believe that what the Word says God says is true of us.

I’ve had several eye-popping discoveries, or re-discoveries as the case is. I haven’t learned anything new, but with my mindset lately it is as if I’ve forgotten all I ever learned. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my discoveries with you. Who knows maybe someone else needs to know this.

Today I read Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (nasb)

This is such an encouraging verse!! We have been blessed, it is past tense. God already blessed us!!  It doesn’t say, “God will bless you in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” but that “God…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing…”

I know I am a spiritual being with a physical body. I am not physical-ness. I am spiritual, and so are you. We are so much more than mere flesh and blood. In fact, our skin is just a covering for our true self,  it makes us visible to others.

Which really comes in handy when you’re sitting on the subway.

So we are spiritual beings. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

I also know that when I came to the cross, confessed my sin and accepted the free gift of Jesus sacrifice for my sin, I was crucified with Christ and yet I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Also in that very moment, I was sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit of Promise. My life was hidden with Christ in God.

According to Colossians 3:1 I am seated in the heavenly places with Christ because I was raised with Him.

So I am a spiritual being. I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. And I’ve been gifted with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.

But I need them here where I live in the flesh. Where I’m fighting to learn truth, where I’m struggling to see His hand. Where the rubber meets the road. Where I’m trying to be optimistic, where I view the coffee cup as full even as I’m choking on the grinds in the bottom.

Here. Where I live by faith. In the Son of God who loved me and Gave Himself up for me.

That is where I need the blessings. All the spiritual blessings.

Lessons from Behind the Wheel

I’m having a love/hate relationship with early mornings. I love them. I hate them. It’s a true love-hate relationship. I love getting up early and getting things done early. I love being tired when the sun goes down.

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Late to bed, early to rise makes a man sick, broke and stupid.

I love getting up early. I hate waking up before my alarm, before the coffee by the bed starts brewing, because my head is aching so much I can’t sleep.

That was this morning. At least my aching head allowed me to sleep until 5.  By 20 minutes after 5, I was propped in bed reading (and listening) to my daily Bible reading and sipping my first sips of the sweet nectar of the gods.  McDonald’s is offering a free small coffee during breakfast hours this week, so by 20 minutes after 7, I was in the drive-thru lane, debating buying a full breakfast.

But remembering my headache and the gastronomical effects I suffer when I don’t follow my “diet”, I decided to just forgo the whole breakfast and get the free coffee.

While on my way to the free coffee I stopped at an unmarked intersection. The car in front of me proceeded through, the car on the left of me waited. I thought it only nice that I wait for them since they were there before me. I felt good. I felt empowered. I had done something nice. I had thought of someone before myself. I waited.

And then I got a little testy when the car that was just arriving behind him went on through the intersection without waiting for me.

I was there first! By right it was my turn.

As I’m getting testy, I feel the Lord speaking,  “Really? Are you really doing this? What about denying yourself? So what if they went through ahead of you.”

“But Lord, it was MY turn.”

“Who cares?!”

“But Lord, my head!”

“I know. But you’ll still get there. The coffee will still be hot.”

“But, but, but…”

Then I realized just how weird it all was. I was upset because I thought of someone else and no one thought of poor little me…

except me.

I was choosing a pity party over the abundant joy Jesus promises.

How crazy stupid is that? Even I can see the craziness of it all with a screaming headache. Who needs that lunacy? Who has time to waste on that?

For sure I don’t.

I’m choosing joy!


(For those wanting an update on the house situation, we have a key but not enough keys. Our realtor is working hard to make it all happen for us. Joy! Interestingly, our realtor’s name is John and my not-so-smart-phone changes his name to Jihadist every. single.time.)

You know, God really does work. He does. Even in things we think are funny. Mr. FullCup received an interesting (to him) phone call this morning.
“A little birdie told me your wife wants some sheet rock.”
I’m sure Mr. FullCup was dumbfounded. He knows me and my crazy ways, but this was news to him.  This person had heard I was looking for sheetrock (aka drywall) and he just happened to have a 1/2″ sheet of 4×8 that we could have.

Merry Christmas to me!

Something holy.

Last week I posted about how often we think we are put in situations we didn’t plan on so we can bless someone else, but realizing afresh that sometimes God puts us in situations not to bless someone else but so they can be used to bless us. It’s like a special hug from God.

I’ve been pondering that throughout the past week. Realizing that we are blessed to bless, we are chosen to give, but we are also selected at times to receive. I don’t know about you, but it is always easier for me to be on the giving end of things.  Don’t get me wrong, gifts are one of my love languages. When someone gives me a gift my love tank just fills up and overflows.

When I was a child, I knew from March 13th what my birthday list for the next birthday would be. (Yes, my birthday is March 12). I knew from December 26 of one year what my next year’s Christmas wish list would be.  I am so happy to notice maturity in myself in this area. While I still feel loved when I am given gifts, I’m not consumed by them.

One thing I missed doing last week in the drive-thru lane was instead of smiling and driving off, I should have paid for the car behind me. A stranger. I should have told the cashier at the window to tell them “Jesus paid for them. And they should pass it on.” I wonder how far that would have gone? I’ll never know because I didn’t do that.

But today.

Today I had a chance at redemption. Not that I think buying someone’s meal at McDonalds to be redeeming. It isn’t part of the salvation plan. It’s not “accept Jesus and buy someone’s food at McDonalds”. It’s just believe Jesus. Believe He is who He said He is. Believe He is the only way to heaven. Believe Him. Period.

Today I was at the counter for the third time in my visit. I had a coupon for a free McCafe drink, and in looking at my receipt  I noticed I had been charged for it. I was wanting it corrected, either a refund or another coffee. I’m not picky. When I got back to our booth, my 13 year old said, “Did you see the (friend’s names)?” Of course I hadn’t. I’d been talking to an older woman in line, and then trying to get the coffee situation worked out. About that time my friend, who was with her children in the play area, looked my way and we smiled and waved at each other.  She came in, and we chatted a bit.

When she went back to her spot, I commented that it appeared they had only come to play at the play area because I didn’t see any food. My girls told me she hadn’t carried any through.

I sent my oldest child to the counter with my debit card, and instructions to order 5 hashbrowns, 3 small orange juices, and one large Pumpkin Spice latte.

My heart felt good.

I was blessed beyond measure.

I knew then why I was searching for our church directory, and found instead the McDonald’s coupons. It was so someone else, who was searching for a place for her children to play, would find rest for her soul, food for her tummy, and love in her heart.

There is something so awe-inspiring, so delicious, so wonderous, about meeting someone, and serving them like we have been served.

But it’s more than that.

It’s something holy.

Memorial Day

Today in America we sit back and remember those who lost their lives so we could live in freedom.  I’m reminded of the saying, “All gave some, but some gave all.” I am so very grateful to those who did give all.

This morning I’m remembering Someone else who paid the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom. No, He’s not an American. But He died so you and I could be free. Free from the devil’s tyranny, free from sin, free from separation from God for eternity.

Yesterday attendance at my church was rather sparse. I know Memorial Day kicks off the “summer” season. I know the lake is beckoning.

But I wonder where we would all be if Jesus had opted to spend that Passover weekend at the lake instead of Jerusalem? What if He had decided He needed a break from the rat race and wanted a long weekend to relax, fish and avoid the cross?

I would be toast. You would be toast. Without Jesus sacrifice for us, we would have no hope. None. No hope of ever being “good enough” to merit God’s grace and favor. No hope of ever darkening heaven’s door. No hope of being welcomed into God’s family.  We would, as we deserve, only have God’s wrath poured over our heads to look forward too.

I am eternally grateful He choose to sacrifice. Are you?

The Poor

I’ve been reading a lot of books about helping the poor. It’s a good thing. We are commanded in Scripture to help the poor, the widows and orphans. In my reading one question keeps coming to mind repeatedly.

Who are the poor?

Now it might sound like I’m asking the same question the rich young man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” But trust me, I’m not. I’m not looking for loopholes. I’m not looking for ways around the command. I think we first need to define the poor so we can know how to help them.

Some think the poor are only those like this:


Black skinned and in dire need of food. Yes, they are poor, the live every day in abject poverty. They go to bed hungry, they wake up hungry. They aren’t able to go to school because they don’t have food, school supplies and might be needed to carry a heavy workload at home. To many people, this is the poor people.

But what about people like this?


Could this man be poor? He obviously isn’t lacking in financial resources. He looks like he has every thing he needs. If we look only on the surface of things though.

The poor are not only those lacking in financial resources. I contend every single person alive on planet earth are in some way, shape or form poor.  With that in mind, I believe our focus on helping the poor, meaning those living in poverty, is too narrow.

If we broaden our focus to see that all men are poor and work to help them in whatever their needs are we are fulfilling the command.

It is very easy to see the poor as only those lacking financial resources because it’s easy to throw a few dollars into a collection plate or give to an organization that works to eradicate the poor. It’s a little harder to actually get our hands dirty investing in someone else’s life. It’s not easy to get involved with those who are needy.

We are all needy. We all have the cure for someone else’s need. Those of us who love and serve Jesus have exactly what someone else needs. Are we sharing it? Are we helping the poor if we leave Jesus out of the equation?

I contend that we aren’t. If we merely help the poor and ignore the needs of those who don’t look poor around us, we aren’t really doing what Jesus commanded.  If we help but don’t share the great love of Jesus, we aren’t doing enough.

I’m not at all saying we have to be “doing” all the time. I am saying when we realize the great gift we have, that Jesus alones meets all our needs, and we don’t share Him with others we aren’t helping. We’re keeping our lamp under a bushel basket.

I know there are some who are steeped in a legalistic gospel based on what we do. I’m not doing that. I’m saying our love for Jesus should extend to His people and the people of this world. Out of our love for Him should naturally outpour good works for Him. Not because it’s legislated from a pulpit, or the pages of a book or even this blog.

So how about if we start praying for eyes to see the needs in others? Even if they look “rich” in our eyes. Even if they don’t look like they need anything. Maybe what they just need is someone to notice them. To befriend them. To talk to them. To pray with them.

And yes, let’s not forget those who are starving for food. But so many are starving for something.