Appreciating Discipline

“Because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:12 (NIV)

Ahh, was I ever frustrated! My exhausted mind refused to focus on the grammar of this foreign language.

It had been a long month since my arrival. My host sisters spoke better English than I did German. They loved to practice English but house rules dictated German was to be spoken at all times with the exception of Friday nights.

Today was not Friday.

My host mother didn’t understand English. But she knew German grammar, and knew how to properly use all five translations of ‘the.’  I did not. Early on, I established an annoying habit of assigning ‘die’ to each and every noun I used.

Unintentionally, I drove her crazy!

She constantly corrected me. At night, exhausted and just trying to communicate, her voice rang in my ears, imparting great amounts of grammatical wisdom.

At seventeen, I missed appreciation for appropriate grammar, but I do recall how she graciously handled my evident chagrin over her correction.

“Stefanie,” she’d said, “I wouldn’t correct you if I though you couldn’t learn it.” (I recall mulling over her words, which were of course in German, and upon realizing what she’d said, temporarily celebrated the fact she believed I contained the capacity to learn it!)

That was two decades ago; her words are still with me. They remind me of Proverbs 3.

Would you correct someone if you didn’t:

  1. Care what he was doing?
  2. Care about him?
  3. Believe he was capable of doing better?


As a mom, I would not attempt correction unless all three criteria were met. Parents discipline because they love, believe kids can do better, and they care their kids do things correctly.

God disciplines us because He loves us. (John 3:16) He knows, through Christ, we can do better. (Philippians 4:13) And, God cares that we do things right, so we can share in His holiness. (Hebrews 12:10)

Hebrews 12:11 encourages, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained for it.” (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)

German grammar, like the Christian life, isn’t easy. I haven’t completely mastered either, but I have grown in both. My time abroad  taught me an important life lesson: Just as my host-mom corrected my grammar, God will discipline and correct me. Even when He sees I’m tired. Even when he sees I’m frustrated.

But I should not resent His correction. He’s correcting me because He loves me. He’s correcting me because He knows I can do better. And, He’s correcting me to lead me to an abundant life.

Yes, the Lord disciplines those He loves!



How do I view discipline when I’m giving it?

How do I often view discipline when I’m receiving it?

Considering discipline, do I need an attitude adjustment?



Dear Lord, Thank You for Your discipline. Thank You for caring enough about me and about what I do to correct me. I haven’t always appreciated that discipline and for that I’m sorry. Please forgive my attitude and help shape my heart into one which readily receives your instruction and your correction.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Thanks for reading! Please return by Friday, July 1 for the next post.


Lessons From Tipper, Part VIII

“I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:14 NIV


One Saturday morning I stumbled onto a precious scene: our second grader was curled up on the floor with a book and Tipper. She was reading aloud and Tipper was listening intently. Her eyes even followed our daughter’s finger as she pointed out the words.

Tipper was choosing to listen.  Even though she probably didn’t understand every word.  Even though she might not like the sound of every word, she sat through the entire story.

I think a few reasons Tipper endured and was even attentive to the reading include:

She loves who was reading.

She trusts who was speaking the words.

She knows our daughter would never hurt her.

What about me?

Do I avoid God’s word, not trusting the One who wrote it?  Am I feeling there’s no possible way He loves me? Do I realize His intentions are to never harm me?  He promises in the famous passage of Jeremiah 29:11 that:

He has plans for me

He knows those plans

Those plans will not harm me

Those plans will prosper me

Those plans will give me a hope

Those plans will give me a future

That’s many encouraging promises I choose to ignore when I refuse to look at or listen to His word.

Tipper is just a puppy. However, she has great wisdom in listening to and spending time with the ones she knows and trusts, knowing we love her.

May I become more like Tipper in this way, trusting when I can’t comprehend and following when I’m unsure, always choosing to listen to God.


What promise or promises do I often forget?

How can I apply the promises of Jeremiah 29:11 to my life?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father,

Please remind me of your promises in Jeremiah 29:11. When I am unsure of events or intentions please remind me that I can trust in Your Word and count on Your promises.



Thank you for reading! Please return by Monday, November 9 for the next post.

He Hears, Always

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12 NIV

“No one is listening to me,” shouted the petite teenage-girl, turning and dashing out the door, abandoning both the conversation and the home she dearly loved. The past few months had seemed like eternity, and well, she had had it.

As she ran down the sidewalk to an unknown destination, Jeremiah 29:12 burned in her mind.  It caused her pause mid-flight.

She knew that verse was a promise. She also knew she had not been spending time with her heavenly father, so why would He listen now?

Because I love you more than you’ll ever comprehend.

Sighing, she seated herself on a nearby park bench.  Her dusty sneakers kicking at the smudged sidewalk, all those years of Bible class, family devotions, and personal Bible reading reminding her of some truths.

She knew her heart needed to be right with God before He would hear her call.

She knew, no matter what she had or hadn’t done, forgiveness was her’s for the asking.

She knew from years of conversation, that she couldn’t do all the speaking, that she needed God to listen and she herself needed to listen to Him.

After pouring her heart out, punctuated by a few tears, she finally spoke her heart’s burdens.  She settled back on the bench, feeling the warm sunshine bathe her face and dry her tears.

Now it was her turn to listen to Him.


Silent and listen are spelled with the same letters. To listen, we must be silent.  To listen, we must rearrange the letters of ‘listen’ and be silent.  Similarly, when we listen, sometimes we must rearrange our thoughts, our attitude, and our hearts.

When we listen, we must practice active listening.  Allow ourselves to become fully engaged, even if we don’t like everything we hear.

Practicing active listening requires we abandon selective listening. (Which children in particular are professionals at!)

How can I be a better listener?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You that You are always ready to forgive me, and to listen to me.  Even when it might feel that no one else is listening, or caring, You are.  And You will never abandon me.  Please help me not only to recall these promises, but to also model Your love through my words and my actions, Amen.

Thanks for reading!  Please return by Monday, July 6, for the next post.


“Whatever you give is acceptable if you give eagerly.  And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12 NLT


It was Mother’s Day, 2002. Our precious three-year-old daughter carefully carried a beautifully wrapped box with a great pink bow resting just under her chin.  Her eyes  shone bright with excitement.  Her cheeks flushed with anticipation, matching that bright bow.

Just as expected, I oohed and aahed over her gift.  “What a beautiful package,” I exclaimed, “Whatever can it be?”

“It’s candles Mommy,” she explained without a moment’s hesitation as my husband and I chorused in laughter.

How about your gifts?

The gifts wrapped up in the package of you? Do you excitedly present your gifts to God, grateful for them and glad to use them for His glory? Or, are they hidden, covered with a concern, that simply put, they are in no way, shape, or form, enough.

2 Corinthians 8:12 tells us, “Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly.” We need to confidently use those God-given gifts for his glory.  We are to ‘eagerly’ present them.  In other words, actively, breathlessly, enthusiastically, longingly, and zealously. Not grudgingly, listlessly, or unwillingly.

“And give according to what you have, not according to what you don’t,” Obviously, we can’t physically give something we do not have.  We can only give that which we possess.

We can give only what is behind our actions.  Only, if our heart is in it.  Let’s not give out of our self-consciousness, or fear the gift is inadequate.

What we do not have should not consume our thoughts.  What little we have to offer compared to others should not dominate our thinking.

God does not compare our gifts with our neighbor’s.  He simply delights in each one, given each of our hearts is behind it.

Yes, I pray I can enthusiastically carry my gifts to God, just as my young daughter was so ecstatic to present her gift to me.

Like any mother will confirm, any gift from her child is precious when the child’s whole heart is behind it.

And, we are all children of God.  The amount of talent is inconsequential, if your gift is given to God with all your heart.


What are my gifts?

Do I willingly carry them to God? Do I practice using them for His glory?

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for blessing me with specific gifts you wanted to give me.  Please help me to shamelessly use them to glorify You. Amen.


Thanks for reading! Please return by Monday, May 18, for the next post.

Servant Leadership, Part II

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” James 2:1

I turned in the crowded convention hall to find another young mom trying to escape the current of the crowd.  I smiled politely, distractedly, ready to turn and follow my own agenda when the tears in her eyes caught my attentions.

“Excuse me, are you alright?”

She explained she had no idea why she had come to the home schooling fair that morning. Twenty thousand square feet of curriculum vendors could not overwhelm her any further that she already was. As she tried to check out programs, one vendor asked her to define her goals.  That one inquiry released an avalanche of tears and confessions.

The vendor’s response to this scene?

“She prayed with me, right then and there, asking God to reveal if home schooling were right for our family.”


The vendors are there to sell curriculum. To keep their companies in the black. But Christians should care that potential customers are doing exactly what they are called to. And this one did. She was not wrapped up in making a sale.  She did not immediately dismiss the confused mom in order to promptly help a woman who knew what she wanted.

She was like Christ.

In Luke 19:1-10, Jesus didn’t mind pausing for the company of a mane who, by the world’s standards, could not offer Jesus one thing.

Verse one tells us, “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.” Yet Jesus realized that Zacchaeus, although wealthy and knowing personal prestige, had noticed Jesus and wanted to know more.

So much so, he diverged from his daily agenda and sought out a place where he could glimpse more of Jesus. (And he didn’t care he had to climb a tree!)

Ignoring scandalous gossip and the opinions of others, Jesus acknowledged Zacchaeus before the crowd and then further graced him by declaring he would dine with him.

Zacchaeus caught a fragment of the picture Jesus saw of the man standing before him, a man short in stature, but not in character, at least not any more.

Zacchaeus immediately responded to Jesus’ announcement by vowing to possess the character Jesus had awakened in him.

Jesus further reinforced Zacchaeus’ worth when he pronounced both Zacchaeus’ salvation and heritage.

Just as that vendor had set aside the potential for personal profit and instead sought to help a bewildered young mom find her true calling.  The vendor was heeding a higher standard that personal monetary profit, but was seeking to find direction for someone who was lost.

Because, at the end of the day, each one of us is a Child of God.


Read James 2:5.  Consider your own agenda.  Do you make time for the lost and uncertain?

Read James 2: 8-9. Who has been put in your path that probably will not profit your personal agenda, yet God may be directing you to influence?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, May I fix my eyes on Jesus, and like Him, realize when to diverge from my planned agenda to offer assistance to every one. Amen

Thanks for reading! Please return by Monday, March 23, for the next post.

Fighting Forgiveness

“I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:10 The Message

The plate was passed as a reflective silence descended upon us all.  My mind focused on the prayer just offered by our speaker. To offer my life as a sacrifice. A living sacrifice. How unworthy am I.

The plate arrived in my pew; it was now my turn to take of the bread that represented the body of Christ.

This bread and the grape juice would travel through my body, affecting every single cell.  Nothing in my body would remain untouched by this bread. Just as nothing in my life could remain untouched by Christ’s forgiveness. His love, His forgiveness permeates every area.

As the bread dissolved in my mouth, my mind marveled at just how magnificent His forgiveness is.

He forgives me.  He forgives me, even when maybe I have not forgiven myself. It’s mind-boggling. He needs nothing from me.  Yet, because His love is so great, He freely forgives me.

However I might try, I can’t accept His forgiveness for some things, and yet disallow it in others.  That is not how He works. The practice of communion is to remind us of the spiritual communion we are to have with Christ.

He came to forgive all sins.


John 10: 10 tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” NIV

Accepting His forgiveness means forgiving myself. Just like Christ forgives, no matter what.

I should not allow the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy.  I need to allow Christ to give me an abundant life: a life filled with His love, His joy, and His peace.  Acknowledging my past, but not reliving it.  Accepting the consequences, but praising God for how some way, He used it all for good. Let His forgiveness, love, and peace permeate all of me.  Because that is what He came for.


How can I apply John 10:10 more fully to my life today?

What do I easily give to the enemy to allow him to steal, kill and destroy?

For what do I need to forgive myself?


Thank You Heavenly Father, that You do love and forgive freely.  Thank You for sending Jesus so that I might indeed have an abundant life, here on earth, and in eternity with You.  Please reveal to me where I need to forgive myself, and live the life You authored for me to live. Thank You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please listen to the song This Is Living  by Hillsong Young and Free.

Thank you for reading! Please return by Monday, February 23, for the next post.

Distinguishing The Noise

“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” Proverbs 2:6-8 NIV

Last week, I asked you what noises vie for your attention.  Can your soul distinguish the chaos your ears are constantly delivering?

What does the Bible tells us about how to distinguish the noise?

  1.  Be still and know He is God. When the voices are screaming out and we can’t distinguish His voice, we should implement Psalm 46:10. We might need to seclude ourselves, get off alone, away from the noise. Stop the motions.  Stop the racing thoughts. Stop the angst. We need to allow that peace that passes understanding to wash over us.  To wash over us and for us to actually feel it.  Know that He is God, and God can be trusted.
  2. Pray Like Abram found, there are times when the instructions we receive may not seem logical to human eyes or minds. Yet, that does not mean we should rush in with our ‘logical solutions.’ James 1:5 encourages us that “Whoever lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men, generously without reproaching, and it shall be given to him.” God wants to give us the answer.  Are we settled and not distracted so that we might hear it?
  3. Seek godly counsel. Read the Bible, and search out those whose faith you respect. Gather wisdom from Scripture and those who will speak the truth, not just whisper words you want to hear. Hebrews 13:8 promises us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” You can stand on Scripture. Anyone who offers godly counsel will point you to places in Scripture pertinent to your circumstance.  Allow God’s truth to wash over you.
  4. Wait on the Lord. Wait on His answer, for His wisdom to be revealed. Even when you are feeling you must do something, anything, now; wait on the Lord. Isaiah 40:31 promises us that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Our world is filled with deafening, distracting noise.  Allow the quiet corners of your heart and soul to search for truth.  Because when you know the truth and implement it, it will set you free.


  1. Where can I go, to be still?
  2. Where can I retreat so that I might pray undistracted when facing a dilemma?
  3. Identify two people you would consider asking for godly counsel.  Identifying them before you need them reduces the risk of asking someone who you know will side with your thinking.
  4. Copy Isaiah 40:31 on a note card to place somewhere prominent: inside your planner, taped to a corner on your windshield, or on your favorite coffee cup. Read it enough and you will memorize it.  And amazingly, it will pop back into your head just when you need it!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your promises.  Thank You that the details of my life concern You, and You deeply desire to guide me along the right path for my life.  Thank You that You know the plans You have for each of us, plans to prosper us and give each one of us a future with hope.  Please help me to recall Your promises, and to remember that when life gets crazy, I need to get away so I can be still and know, You are God. Amen.

Thanks for reading! Please return by Monday, February 9 for the next post.

Shut In and Remembered

Genesis 8:1 “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”


It was January in Michigan, cold, dark, and stormy.  The young foreigner felt the weather matched her disposition: cold, dark, and stormy. She was a young mother of two, the youngest a mere infant, an infant who recently diagnosed with asthma, should not go outside.

New to Michigan and its brutal winters, the young woman had no friends, no family, and little hope. She felt shut in and alone.  Her job was to simply care for her two young charges.  Keep them fed and warm, and care for their health.

Noah knew what it was like to feel shut in. He had obeyed God’s instructions and had built the ark.  He had gathered all the animals, two by two. He had done all the right things. Genesis 7:16b tells us “Then the Lord shut him in.”

The storm raged on outside but Noah was safe in the ark.  How terrifying it must have been to hear the storm raging relentlessly.  Hear the screams of people fighting for their lives, and how eerie the silence when those lives surrendered to death and those storms stopped. All the while, Noah tended the animals, feeding them and caring for them.  He had no idea how long the time would last inside the ark.  He only knew he needed to keep tending the animals until he was told otherwise.

Genesis 7: 24 tells us that the waters flooded the earth for one hundred and fifty days. That’s a very long time to be enclosed with so many animals.  The days of hard labor producing weary muscles and exhaustion every night.  The stench from living in such close proximity must have overpowered him at times.  How claustrophobic it must have felt, confined inside the wooden walls.  The desire for a little sunshine, at times, overwhelming!

With all that transpired outside the ark, how easy it would be to feel forgotten.  Yet Genesis 8:1a reads, “But God remembered Noah.”  Even while creating a new face on the earth’s surface, God remembered the man, and the creatures he’d tucked safely away until the storms were over.

That young mom in Michigan eventually saw spring.  After months of protecting her baby indoors, together they enjoyed the bright blossoms of plants proclaiming the promise that God is good.  He does remember us, when we feel shut in, with nowhere to go.  He does remember us when we are stuck in a “holding pattern,” waiting for a sign we should venture out. And while we are shut in, He is there with us, every moment, providing for our needs.  Even the emotional needs.  Even the need for a friend, a confidante.  Even someone to share the load with us.

That young mom used the long winter nights after she had tucked her children into bed, for reading and learning more about God.  Noah used his time in the ark to obey the Lord and His instructions.  Both drew closer to God and built faith throughout the times of being shut in.

When the time on confinement was over, we read in Genesis 9:1, “God blessed Noah and his sons, saying ‘be fruitful and increase in numbers and fill the earth.’”  When spring came for that mom, she too felt very blessed from her time of weathering the storm-filled winter.


1)What do I do with myself when I’m feeling shut in?

2) How can I utilize my “shut in” time for God’s glory?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, How easy it can be to recall the story of Noah and romanticize his experience in the ark.  How easy to think ‘no one knows how hard things can be.’ You know, O Lord, and You love each of us.  You see us and have not forgotten us.  And You never will.  Please help me to remember that as I face periods when I feel shut in.  Thank You for Your promise that You will never again flood the entire earth, and that You will always supply all my needs.  Amen. 

Thanks for reading! Pleaser return by next Monday, January 12, for the next post.


“Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Rushing, bustling through the season, I grabbed my coffee to jazz me up as I dialed up the volume of my radio. The DJ’s announcement was so unbelievable, I stopped in my tracks. Apparently, an Internet hoax has been circulating.  Unfortunately, quite a few people have actually believed it.

If you need your cell phone charged in a hurry- microwave it.

Hmmm. We all think we have precious little time.  We are all looking for that quick solution.  We want to believe there’s a faster way than sitting the phone on the charger and leaving it there for an hour.

But, microwaving it just won’t do the trick.

It will cook your phone, and who knows what it will do to your microwave!

Do we ever do that with our faith?

Now there is so much to do:  The presents to buy, then wrap.  The food to purchase, then prepare.

The party to plan, then host.

The service to schedule, then attend.

The list goes on and on.  Things will quiet down in January, we console ourselves.

But then if your January is anything like mine, that quiet will explode into a fantastic frenzy about five days in.

Are you looking for that ‘quick fix’ to faith?  Are you trying to microwave your relationship with God?  You want charged, but you don’t want to take the time to get plugged in to His word. To be still, and know He is God.

December is often a busy month for Christians.  But then, so will be January.

And February.

And March.

You get the picture. Each season has its own schedule, but they all seem to keep the same pace: frantically frenzied.  If we wait to slow down before we spend time with God,  the Enemy will just keep us busy.  We must be intentional in our pursuit of Him, just as He is with us.

Christmas is not just celebrating the birth of Jesus, Son of God.  It is also celebrating God’s love for humanity collectively, and for each human personally.  It is recognizing the why of Jesus’ birth.

God loves us so much that He sent His perfect, sinless Son, to pay the ultimate price for us: humans who do not often see our need for a Savior.  He did not wait until we realized it, He authored the plan before sin entered the world.  He loves us that much.

If He loves us that much, we really ought to get intentional about our relationship with Him.  Spend more time with Him.  Stop trying to “microwave” our faith.


  1.       What triggers me to ‘put God off until tomorrow?’
  2.       In the midst of all my preparations, is my heart preparing to listen to God?
  3.       Do I ever tell myself, “I’ll get more spiritual when I have more time?” How has that worked out?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, how easily I can place You on hold, indefinitely. Please help me to be intentional today, and everyday, about making time for You. Thank You for pursuing me with and endless, boundless love.  Thank You for the birth and death of Jesus. It’s only through Him that I can approach You. Amen.

Please watch Downhere’s video “How Many Kings”[/embed]

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! As always, I am so happy to hear from you, the reader.  If you have any questions or would like to explore Christianity further, please ask.  You may either reply to this post, or feel free to use my email indicated in the contact section.  Anything sent through email will not appear on this site. Thanks for reading! Please return by Monday, January 5, for the next post.

Choosing Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3

Glancing out the frosty window, I inwardly groaned.  Gray skies, bare trees, and, what-on-earth? Snowflakes!  Not already! Not after a cooler than usual summer. Not so close to last winter, when the lows broke almost every record on record.

I lit a fire in the fireplace, resigning myself to finishing our school day curled up under the blanket on the couch, my back planted firmly against the window framing the offensive weather.

Movement at the nearby sliding doors commanded my attention.  Our homeschooled first grader was lining up all the kitchen chairs like soldiers saluting a queen: two straight rows each facing inward, in anticipation.

“Mommy, come,” she pleaded, a smile on her lips as she deposited an armload of cushions and a fuzzy blanket atop the closest sentry. “I want to watch the snowflakes while you read.”  She continued with her nest-building activity and her chatter, her words of wisdom penetrating my heart.  “God made each snowflake different you know.” She is so excited to watch the snow! I marveled at how that could be.

She perched herself across three chairs, tucking the blanket around her, “Come,” she invited once more.

Watch the snowflakes.  Enjoy the beauty of crisp white flakes floating from heaven almost as if God himself wanted to create a magical moment of wonder to simply captivate a seven-year-old girl.

Ruth was captivated too, but not with wonder. Ruth knew discouragement to the Nth degree. She was a widow, living through a famine, in a foreign land.  But she did not just sit and wallow in her circumstances.  She chose to persevere. She chose to seek out joy, and not turn her back against her new-found God when the circumstances were challenging.

We read in James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

While it must have been difficult to remain in the company of someone who was sad and felt God made her life bitter, Ruth did not give up and bail out.  She remained by her mother-in-law’s side.

She counted on God to some how, some way, work it out for good.  And before she could see just how it would work out, she chose joy.  Joy of facing trials head-on.  Joy of trusting God to do the impossible. Joy of waiting, and watching for God to make it right.

Ruth knew everything was in the Lord’s hand.  And when I think about it, I acknowledge that too.  So I have a choice: I can choose anger or dismay.  I can choose to remain in disappointment, wallow in frustration or negativity.

Or, I can choose to see the good in the moment, or choose to search for good in the moments to come. I can choose to see beauty in the setback.  I can choose to search for silver-lining blessings in the snowstorm.

I can choose joy.




1) What reaction do I choose when facing a squall or full-blown storm?

2) In Ruth 1:16a, Ruth had made the choice, and she stuck with it even when presented with more challenges and hardships. It’s often best to decide on an attitude (hopefully positive and faith-filled!) before circumstances occur.

3) How might I respond differently to life’s challenges if I were to choose a mind-set of joy?


Thanks for reading! Please return by Monday, December 8 for the next post.