Even To My Old Age…


This morning I’ve woken…or is waked?…I don’t know. I should look that up, but I won’t. Because this morning I’ve reason to wonder about more important things. Like a birthday.

Today I am 58.

I admit, when I tell people how old I am it doesn’t seem so old. When I write it, though, and see it in print somehow it looks a wh-o-O-o-le lot different. Like a lifetime.

I think it’s quite a victory to celebrate this many years because the older I get the more I understand a few things. The more I value a heart that still beats strong. The more I treasure a mind that still ponders wonderful things. The more I prize legs that still move and bend and carry the weight of me. The more I appreciate hands that still grip and grasp and hold the load for me.

Yes, the older I get, the more I realize that the few gray hairs I have on my head are a gift from God. I can look back over my life and see that He has always been there for me. He has always sustained me. He has always been the same wonderful God doing amazing things in my life.

He was there when I struggled with asthma as a toddler and even to

the loss of my eye as a child and even to

the emotional conflict as a girl without an eye and even to

the thyroid cancer as a teen and even to

the liver disease diagnosis of an infant son as a mother and even to

the police arrest of that rebel teen as a parent and even to

the removal of a brain tumor as a woman and even to

the temporary disability of my husband and even to the loss of his job and even to the financial strain of that season and even to…even to…even to…

Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4

This is the God of Even-to’s. The God who has carried me when my legs lost their strength. The God who has born my burdens when my back was been bent over with weight. The God who has delivered me from storms and trials. The God who has walked with me through fires, flown with me through clouds, and run with me in every race. This is the God who has cared for me, clothed me, fed me, and sheltered me. YES! He has done it!

From the day I was born even to this day…21,170 days of life.

Somehow, when I write that out, it looks like a lifetime. A lifetime of even to’s. 

A lifetime of beating hearts and pondering thoughts.

A lifetime of legs walking twists and turns.

A lifetime of hands holding shapes and sizes.

A lifetime of eyes seeing God do amazing things in my life.

Not just any lifetime. MY lifetime.

This morning I have woken up…or is it waked?…I still don’t know, but I still feel the beat of my heart and I value the One who keeps it beating, pulsing, loving. I still feel the thoughts pondering in my mind and I treasure the One who keeps me thinking, meditating, wondering. I still feel the bones in my legs and I prize the One who keeps them bending, carrying, moving. I still feel the muscles in my hands and I appreciate the One who keeps them gripping, grasping, holding.

From the day I was born even to this day I still wonder about the important things of life. 

Like a lifetime of Even-to’s with God by my side.  

God is Jealous For Me


God’s jealousy for me makes me weep.

Because sometimes it’s just so hard for me to understand why He would care enough about me to be jealous at all.

Because He’s faithful. Even when I am not.

Because He’s merciful. Even when I am not.

Because He’s God. And I am not.

“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14

God is jealous, not in the angry, malicious, violent sense, but in the burning, holy, righteous sense. He is zealous for His good Name. And I am His child. I wear His Name.

HIS Name. A Name that makes some people curse and others praise. A Name that makes some shake their fists and others lift their hands. A Name that makes some kick and scream and others bow low. A Name that makes some cringe and others hope.

But no matter how people react, He’s still God and there’s just something about His Name.

My Sunday School class at church is studying, Praying The Names Of God, by Ann Spangler. I love it. I really love it. I love focusing on a different name for God each week. Every day, pondering, reflecting, chewing on the significance of the names, understanding the meaning of the names, and trying to wrap my mind around the character of God.

This morning I’ve been reflecting on El Kanna (EL kan-NAH), Jealous God.

And it’s in my reflecting that I weep.

Because I want to be zealous for the God who is zealous for me. I want to praise, even when my heart is sad. I want to lift my hands, even when my arms are heavy. I want to bow, even when my legs are weak. I want to hope, even when my soul is downcast.

When I’m too focused on my humanity or too distracted by the world, my heart tends to stray and God wants my heart. All of it. That’s why He never lets me stray too far. That’s why He never leaves me where I am. That’s why He never gives up on me. He is mindful in His pursuit of me and I can’t tell you how I rejoice in this knowledge. It’s just a little too wonderful for me.

That’s why I can trust in His Name, El Kanna, and all it represents and all it stirs inside of me.

Because wearing God’s Name reminds me of Whose I am. Bearing His Name reminds me of Who I serve. Calling on His Name reminds me of Who has my heart.

When all I need is found in Christ, why would I want to praise, lift my hands, bow down or hope in anyone or anything else? Ever? Why would I want to let my heart stray when I have a God who loves me so? And, yet, God knows that sometimes I do. That’s why He’s jealous for me.

“I am the Lord; that is My name! I will not give my glory to another, or my praise to idols.” Isaiah 42:8

Yes, God is Jealous God. And rightfully so. His love is perfect and holy, fiercely protective and intensely powerful. His love propels Him to want what’s best for me and guard the part of me that’s most precious to Him.

So, today this is how I pray:

Yes, Father. I will let You be jealous for me. I will let You be zealous in Your love for me. I will let You guide me, grace me, and guard me. 

Because I love You, too. And I want to honor You. Because You are faithful. And merciful.   

Because I want to give You the glory that is rightfully Yours.

Because You are worthy.

Because You are God. And I am not.  

You Hem Me In

IMG_0579 (1)

Before I flew out to California three weeks ago I hadn’t flown anywhere in thirteen years.

Because…and read my lips…I. HATE. FLYING.


And not only that…I. AM. HEARING. IMPAIRED and I. WAS. FLYING. ALONE.


Like, near the depths of despair.

Okay. So this may be a slight exaggeration.

But A.F.F.L.I.C.T.I.O.N. is the only word I feel accurately describes my state of being.

There. I said it.

Judge me if you want, but if you have an ounce of mercy in your pitiful hearts you will grace me instead.

I once read somewhere that most of our fears are ‘learned.’ We’re born with only two; fear of falling and fear of loud noises. I really don’t fear loud noises. My hearing impairment could obviously have something to do with that, but maybe the reason many of us have a fear of heights is because of that ingrained fear of falling and that could very well be why some of us really do NOT like to fly.

Most of us have at least one fear, maybe more, so even though our phobias may be different we can still understand the feelings and emotions behind them. It’s a terrible malady. If not for the grace of God I would never have gotten on that plane all by myself. Can you hear me in my whiny childish voice, “May I have a babysitter to hold my hand, please?” ‘Cause I seriously wanted one.

So maybe you can understand why it was such a BIG deal for me to ‘GO’ where God said ‘GO’,  to ‘DO’ what God said ‘DO’, to ‘FLY’ where God said ‘FLY.’

The only way I could kiss my sweet husband good-bye at the airport and enter the unknown alone was because in my heart of hearts, I knew God was going before me, God would not leave me comfortless, and…

God would be good to me. He could not, would not, disappoint me.

At the Raleigh airport I was comforted by very gracious airline employees. After Raleigh…well, let me just say…airline personnel don’t have a lot of sympathy for people like me. I’m neither completely deaf nor totally blind. I’m kinda caught in the middle. I can hear sounds, but I don’t have clarity. Forget trying to decipher anything that comes through a sound system. I need visuals. I need to see a face, read lips…you know the story.

Drawing from my life experiences, most people think that if you have hearing aids you don’t need the aid of people. To my dismay, airline personnel in Dallas couldn’t have cared less when I asked for their assistance in telling me when it was my turn to board. They pretty much forgot all about me.

I’ve had to learn in life to draw on what I know to be true about God and I knew He had not forgotten me,

“Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” Isaiah 49: 15 & 16

I knew that if God had gone before me then He had prepared the hearts of certain individuals to stand in the gap for me. I just had to find them.

So, in that big, bustling Dallas airport swarming with humanity, I appealed to the God whose eyes were on me and scanned the crowd at the gate. You can tell so much by looking at faces, and thanks be to God, He directed me to an older man with a kind face. (I like kind.)

“Please, sir, would you mind telling me when they call Group 2? I’m hearing impaired and I can’t understand a thing they’re saying over that intercom.”

It was at that moment I realized something I almost forgot…the God who goes before me always makes a way in the journey. It’s just not always the way I expect. In a hearing-seeing world where I don’t hear and see like most people around me I have a part to play. I have to let God be God and trust Him enough to give me a push in the right direction when I need it.

God’s direction for me was to ‘get over myself’ and ‘get under His wing.’


“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge…” Psalm 91:4

There’s something about taking this journey with God that boosted my confidence and bolstered my courage in a way I’ve not experienced in a long, long time. There’s something about the way God made Himself known to me in very personal ways. Like in the Ontario airport on the return trip home when He guided me to a sweet senior woman. (I like sweet.)

We struck up a conversation and when I found out she was over 80 years old and flying alone I was properly put in my place, I can tell you that! But, it was in the more-daunting Dallas airport that God reminded me of something I’d almost forgotten,

He hems me in.

“You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5

As God set my sights on a young couple with compassion on their faces (I like compassion), I sat down beside them and made my appeal with no more fear behind the words. When it was our turn to board, as only God could instruct, this woman said to me,

“Now you let my husband go in front of you and I’ll go behind you. We’ll guide you along the way.”

The tears are flowing even now because this memory is so precious to me.

I may not always know what the journey holds, but when I trust in the goodness of God, He never disappoints me. His goodness shows up in kindness, in sweetness, and in the compassion of those whose hearts He has prepared to meet me.

I went from affliction to consolation. I’m so glad God never tires of reminding me, “Nina, I not only go before you, but I have your back. I will not let you fall, even though you fear the flight. I will uphold you with the palms of my hand and you will find refuge under my wings.” 

And I ask you, who needs a babysitter when God Himself hems me in?

When God Knits Hearts Together


It’s hard to believe that one week ago today I was on a plane, returning home from a most spiritually uplifting time of sweet refreshing. God had to take me clear across the country…literally from one coast to the other…to remind me that sometimes we have to leave the comfort of what is familiar to experience the glorious.

And I have never been so glad to flee my comfort zone in my entire life.



My heart is completely, utterly, and unquestionably knit together forever with some beautiful women out in California. I’ve been reflecting all week on this glorious love of God that transcends highways and byways, bridges rivers and canyons, and connects hearts and souls.

And I am awed. Amazed. Humbled.

I don’t know why. God never quits being awesome. He never ceases to be amazing. He never stops humbling. Sometimes, though, in the comfort of my everyday life I forget that God longs to WOW-me. So He makes me uncomfortable. It’s in this discomfort that I discover how comfortable I can be when I let Him take me into the unknown and love on me real good every step of the way.

God has this funny way of bringing us to the end of ourselves in the unfamiliar. It’s here that we experience glorious things of our God who brings glory to Himself through surrendered hearts and willing vessels. Things we’ve forgotten. Or forfeited. There’s just something so holy about being brought low. Something so humbling when I pour out and God pours in. It’s in this place we’re overwhelmed by Love.

And the ladies of Glendora loved all over me with the love of Christ. From the moment Cathy began communicating with me through email to the moment Cheryl picked me up at the airport to the moment Joann and her husband received me into their home to the moment I met Felice for the first time to the moment I entered the retreat center and was introduced to 50-plus amazing women who came with the anticipation of meeting with our Jesus, I felt as if I’d known them forever, our hearts entwined, knitted together like a beautifully stitched afghan warming my body and comforting my soul.

I will never forget them.

As I was reflecting on this I remembered that Scripture tells us in 1 Samuel 18:1, 3 & 4, “Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself…then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.” 

This encounter between David and the son of king Saul follows David’s triumph over the Philistine giant, Goliath. Jonathan had not only seen David’s courage and witnessed his victory, but he had heard David speak boldly in defense of the one true God, the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.

Jonathan felt a kinship with David because they were like-minded. To knit means to tie, physically, to gird; to bind together, league together. I guess you could say they were in “a league all their own.”  They shared a bond and that bond was rooted in their love for the Lord God. I’m sure Jonathan admired David’s courage and respected his bold attack against the enemy, but there’s just something about someone who shares your love for the Lord.

FullSizeRender-4(Me and this girl. Felice. What can I say?)

Believers that come together in oneness of heart and soul, in the glorious love of Christ Jesus, are true kindred spirits. They’re not strangers. There’s no discomfort. Nothing unfamiliar about that. I may have flown to California thinking I was going to bless those women with encouragement in the Word of God, but God threw me a curve ball. They will never know how God used them to bless me good.

When it was time for me to leave I cried. As much as I missed my husband, my family, and my friends back home, I still felt a sadness in my heart because these precious women would be so far away.

2,554.6 miles to be exact.


How can you explain this kind of feeling except for the love of God? I thought of Paul’s tearful good-bye with his Ephesian brothers and sisters in Christ, how they knelt in the sand before he boarded the ship, weeping and praying at the thought of never seeing him again.

I thought of the words he wrote to the Romans in 1:11, “For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” 

And the words he wrote to the church in Corinth, recorded in 2 Corinthians 3: 2 & 3, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 

And his words in Philippians 1: 3-5, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all. In view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart.” 

I think Paul knew what it meant to have his heart bound and knitted together with those he came to love through his ministry. That love transcended highways and byways, bridged rivers and canyons, and connected hearts and souls. Love is sometimes puzzling, baffling, and perplexing, but the pure love of Christ will always be a glorious thing.

I pray that I’ll be reunited again this side of heaven with my California friends because they left an imprint on my heart that will never wash away. Thank goodness for Facebook and Instagram. If Jesus returns before an earthly reunion, I can’t think of anything more glorious than celebrating together on streets of gold.

So, to my dear friends who live on the opposite side of the country, “Thank you for inviting me to flee my comfort zone. Thank you for embracing me. Thank you for sharing your hearts with me. I am forever grateful.”

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I use to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy M. Montgomery

*Top photo taken by Felice

Facing My Fears


This is me. Posing for the camera, teeth chattering, and biting my nails. It’s just a pose. So you can get a picture of what I look like afraid.

Actually, it’s not a good picture. It’s just for show. It’s pretend. Cause what I’m really feeling right now is a mixture of fear, excitement, anticipation, amazement, and I don’t know if you can understand this one, but it comes to me in waves…P.A.N.I.C.

Yes, in the midst of all that positive energy is some really pitiful stuff.

Please don’t judge me.

A few years ago I spoke to a group of women with a message from the story of Gideon. You can read the story for yourself in Judges 6 and 7. In fact, I encourage you to read it. I want you to read it. You need to read it. Just sayin’…

Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, under a tree, hiding in fear from the terrifying Midianites who were oppressing God’s people. One of the ways they instilled fear was to swoop down and steal the Israelite’s food the minute it was harvested. Yep, for all their power and strength, they couldn’t even thresh the wheat for themselves. They preyed on the children of God by watching them do all the work and stealing the fruit of their labor. Can I hear a “Not fair, Lord, not fair!” 

Scripture tells us that The Angel of the Lord came to Gideon as he was threshing wheat. Most scholars agree that this was the pre-incarnate Christ. It was Jesus Himself who came down to give Gideon some much-needed encouragement. God had heard the cries of His people and had chosen Gideon to deliver them from oppression. It was the farthest thing from Gideon’s mind at the time. I’m sure he had done his fair share of crying out, but never in a million years did he stop to think that God would raise him up to lead an army, carry a sword, and fight some battles.

I love that God came down. Not to the strongest man in Israel. Not to the wealthiest. Not to the one with the most prestige and status, but to a man so afraid he was in hiding, threshing wheat where grapes were pressed for wine, trying to throw his enemy off track by keeping what little harvest he had a secret.

God met Gideon where he was. In all his fear and insecurity and weakness. And, yet, the Angel still called Gideon a mighty warrior!

“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  (Judges 6:12)

Oh, my shivering soul! Oh, my racing heart! Oh, how I love that God saw Gideon not for what he was at the moment of encounter, but for what he would become!

Can I hear an “Amen,” please?!?

God didn’t see Gideon as a coward. God saw a man of courage.

I needed to revisit this story today. I needed to reread my notes. Because sometimes I feel just like Gideon. Small. Insignificant. Definitely not the strongest of the strong and certainly not the wealthiest. Yet, God has called me to ‘go in the strength (I) have.’ Because tomorrow I fly out to California, all by my lonesome, to share a message with some very Jesus-loving women who live in Glendora. Like Gideon, I’ve often found myself questioning God and making excuses, “But who am I? I am the least. I am the weakest.” (Like I said earlier, please don’t judge.)

But, you know what I love about an encounter with The Almighty? I can take all my fears and weaknesses and insecurities to Him and He does the most amazing thing. He changes my perspective. Just like He did for Gideon.

God graciously made Himself known to Gideon. The Lord who is strength Himself gave Gideon a pep talk. Charged him up real good, too! And He gave Gideon a few promises, “The Lord is with you…I am sending you…go in the strength I give you…peace to you…fear not…”

And this encounter changed Gideon’s life forever. He understood where the answers lie to that age-old question, Who am I?, that plagues us all when God asks us to step out of our comfort zones and face our fears…

…he finally realized that even though he battled fear of monumental proportions, God would empower him with courage, strength, and might.

…he finally understood that even though he had no previous experience as a leader, God would equip him with wisdom, discernment, and counsel to rally an army.

…he finally grasped that even though he felt weak and insignificant, God would enable him to see himself as a vessel, an instrument, and a man of great value.

I think the encouragement of God comes to all of us when we hear His call to “Go.” Like Gideon, we come to see that it’s never about us. It’s never about me. It’s always unquestionably, undeniably, unmistakably all about Him. When we realize we have nothing to offer in and of our own then we’re in a good place for God to use us.

And sometimes…most of the time…alright, all of the time…for me, it means I just gotta “Go” scared. Because it’s in my teeth-chattering-biting-nails-racing-heart-shivering-kinda-fear that I am completely, wholely, and absolutely dependent upon God. Like Gideon, I can face my fear head-on because I have the certainty that He is with me…He is sending me…He is strengthening me…He gives me peace.

When the question Who am I? taunts me like a pounding drum keeping in time with my racing heart I answer,

I am a mighty warrior, thank you very much!

My God Is A Cloud-Rider


Before the rains came about a week ago, I was just routinely getting myself dressed when the title for this blog post was impressed upon my spirit. I jotted the phrase down on a scrap of paper in my night stand and left it on my vanity to do some digging into Scripture. One verse kept coming to me over and over again. One that has fascinated me in times past, maybe because I’m a writer and the words are just so poetic.

“He wraps Himself in light as with a garment; He stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of His upper chambers on the waters. He makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” Psalm 104:3

Oh. Be still my beating heart.

If you’re a faithful reader of my blog, you know I’m a little on the sensitive side. My spirit responds to words like these. For all my musings and ponderings, all my passions and imaginations, all my longings and yearnings for things of my God…words like these just make me weep.

For the past 8 years I’ve lived in a tiny town in North Carolina, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours from the eastern shore where hurricane season keeps beach residents on their toes and tourists at bay. I may not live right on the coast, but the month of October brings the rains inland and we find ourselves without sunshine for days at a time. If I wanted to live under a canopy of clouds for days on end I might consider moving to Seattle. I hear it rains 9 months out of the year there, but I have no desire.

Because sometimes, it’s just plain depressing.

The past couple of days the rains have been accompanied by some gusty winds. Forget the umbrella. What good does it do to try and shield myself when the wind just blows the rain aimlessly, soaking my clothes, and dampening my mood?

But then verses like Psalm 104:3 come to mind and I forget the relentless rains. I forget the dark clouds. I forget the gusty winds. And I remember…

I remember Who rules over the weather. I remember Who surrounds Himself in splendor and majesty, whose light shines in dark places. I remember Who is enthroned above the clouds, whose home is arrayed in the brightness of His glory. I remember Who causes all things to fit together perfectly like beams being fitted for a house. I remember Who holds it all together.

“He made darkness His covering, His canopy around Him–the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of His presence clouds advance, with hailstones and bolts of lightning.” Psalm 18:11 & 12

I remember Who the Builder is. Stable. Certain. Steadfast. Sure.

I remember Who reigns over the enemy. I remember Who rides in the front lines of battle, whose righteous right hand upholds in stormy places. I remember Who is supreme above the clouds, whose armor is impenetrable. I remember Who causes enemies to flee, whose Name makes the foe tremble in fear. I remember Who fights for those who love Him.

“See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before Him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them.” Isaiah 19:1

I remember Who the Victor is. Mighty. Powerful. Strong. Formidable.

I remember Who rides on the winds. I remember Who saves in times of trouble, whose person comes swiftly in gusty places. I remember Who is calm above the clouds, whose presence is peace. I remember Who causes hearts to trust, whose very character makes hope come alive. I remember Who helps those who are crushed in spirit.

I remember Who the Savior is. Redeemer. Restorer. Faithful. Eternal.

“Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will  mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.” Daniel 7:13, Revelation 1:7 

There’s just something about the clouds that give me a holy expectation. I don’t have to muse or ponder, pretend or imagine because I can take this Scripture literally. The clouds make the Sovereignty of God and Supremacy of Christ very real, because I believe that one day they will open up and herald the return of the King. I can long and yearn for these things of God to be revealed.

God is in His heaven and He has not forgotten us. Jesus still makes Himself known to people today, but even for those who don’t know Him, or believe in Him, or even want to recognize Him, one day He will appear and all will behold Him. He will descend from heaven. He will come in the clouds. There is no hidden meaning here. Scripture means just what it says.

There is nothing depressing about this. There is nothing depressing about the clouds. Even when the days are dark and there seems to be no light shining in the sky. Even when the enemy is roaring like a lion and there seems to be no end to evil in this world. Even when the rains come and there seems to be no dam to stop the floods. Even then….

even so…I remember.

I remember Who rules. I remember Who reigns. I remember Who rides on the wings of the wind for I know…I believe…

my God is a Cloud-Rider.    

My Strong Tower


I’ve always loved Proverbs 18:10,

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.”

What is a tower anyway? I mean, I have visions of Rapunzel letting down her hair from the tower which her adopted (albeit, B.A.D.) mother, an evil enchantress,  locked her up in with no means of escape so that her prince charming (oh, the depths of undying love) could climb up her beautiful, strong locks (so jealous) to meet secretly with her.

For real? A tower made of stone or brick so tall with no doors to enter in or out and one lone window at the very tip top. A window in which poor trapped-and-unable-to-escape Rapunzel could only look out upon the beautiful world that surrounded her prison and dream about what life was like…out there…in the magical forests and mystical woodlands.

Hmmmmmm. I think I’m missing something.

It’s just so obvious that the enchantress misused the true purpose of a tower.

A tower was built to be a place of safety and protection. A tower was a place of gazing and watching. A tower was built high so one could see far and wide. A tower was strong and built to last.

But a tower wasn’t meant to hold people captive. A tower was meant to hold them close. To give them comfort. To keep them safe. A tower wasn’t meant to keep all of life out as much as it was meant to preserve the life inside.

And God is just so very good and wonderful about preserving lives.

A tower was built to be a defensive weapon. Watchmen in the tower kept watchful eyes on the horizon to distinguish between friend and foe approaching the city behind the safety of the walls. Towers were sometimes part of a huge complex called fortresses. Friends and allies were allowed inside, but enemies were fought and fired upon. It was hard to get inside a city so well protected. Those on the inside felt a measure of peace and assurance that the guards in the tower were ever alert, always awake, always armed.

No wonder David, the great psalmist, acknowledged God as his Fortress, Rock, Refuge, Shield, Deliverer and Stronghold all in three verses of one psalm!

” ‘I love You, O Lord, my Strength.’  The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress and my Deliverer, my God, my Rock, in whom I take refuge; my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”  Psalm 18:1-3

How can anyone sing a song like that and not be strengthened in his inner man?!?

But what I love most about Proverbs 18:10 is that God’s name alone has great power, ‘the name of the Lord is a strong tower…”

There is power in the name of the Lord. (I think we forget that sometimes.)

There is strength in the name of the Lord. (I think we neglect that sometimes.)

There hope in the name of the Lord. (I think we ignore that sometimes.)

The thing is…we can’t dethrone God. He’s always going to be mighty. And strong. And powerful.

He’s always going to be above all things. And in control of all things. And working out His plan in all things.

He’s always going to be ever watchful. Ever armed. Ever awake.

Even when we think He’s not. He is.

Even when we think He’s forgotten us, He really hasn’t, “Can a mother forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

Even when we think He’s lost sight of us, He really hasn’t, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:6

Even when we think He’s uncaring or unmindful of us, He really isn’t, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” Matthew 6:26

We can try all we want to strip God of His character and believe He’s something other than what He says He is, but it’s only a matter of personal belief. God can’t be dethroned. We can’t take away His Sovereignty. Over and over again in Scripture He tells us things like, “I am The Lord, and there is no other…besides Me there is no God…there is no one besides Me…for I am The Lord, and there is none else…”

Sometimes, I think we miss something.

Something that looks a lot like belief. ‘Cause we don’t always act like we believe He is….well…above all!

Because sometimes, instead of finding safety in The Strong Tower, we let down our hair and let the enemy climb up. Instead of using the tower as a defensive weapon, we let the foe climb right in.

Lord, have mercy.

What if, when we start disbelieving, we start calling upon His name? What if, when we start doubting, we start standing upon the Rock, holding up our Shield, blowing our Horn, and trusting our Deliverer to save?

What if we stood tall in our Strong Tower like true watchmen?!? What if?!?

Well, maybe…just maybe…instead of an evil enchantress we might get a prince. And instead of a prison we might get freedom. And instead of fear we might have peace.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me so instead of trying to escape from the tower I think I’ll try running to it. As fast as my little legs will carry me.

‘Cause in my heart I truly believe,    

“No one is like you, Lord; You are great, and Your name is mighty in power.” Jeremiah 10:6

Antics Of A Church Deaconess


I have just completed the first year of my role as a church deaconess.

Before you shut me out because you don’t believe that women should serve as deacons in the church, let me just say, if God appointed Phoebe in biblical Cenchrea, then I believe He can still appoint women to serve in this role today. Phoebe was a woman of means who helped support Paul in his mission work and served the early church near Rome. Women had important roles in the early church and, just so you know, the word deacon in the biblical Greek means a waiter, servant; an administrator or minister.

It’s a ministry role, people! And I just happen to like serving people.

I found out years ago when I gave up my self-employment as a decorative artist back in the nineties (that’s the 1990s, f.y.i.) and took a job working in a very historic old-fashioned soda fountain-slash-pharmacy that God has gifted me for service. I loved all that preparing food and making milk shakes and having a laugh-a-day with the customers. I knew the regulars by the sandwiches they ordered. There she is (big smile), my Egg-Salad-Sandwich-On-Toasted-Rye-With-A-Slice-Of-Tomato-And-Don’t-Forget-The-Pickle-And-Chips! Coming right up. How ya doin’ today?

Yes, I happen to love serving. Call me crazy. I don’t care. The service role suits me.

Being a deacon is more than just serving a meal, though. Sometimes the need is more spiritual or emotional. Anyone, really, can be a deacon at heart. I admit I feel very inadequate at times and I tend to berate myself because I don’t feel like I’m doing enough but remembering that the heart of a deacon is really ministry I only need to look to Christ to show me how to minister.

Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’ Matthew 21:25-28

One of the things I enjoy about ministering is visiting the families placed under my care. When at all possible, my husband and I like to do this together. After all, I’m hearing impaired so someone’s gotta be my ears. Lucky Wayne. The man is a saint.

Before accepting this role, Wayne and I talked and prayed and agreed that we would serve together whenever possible. He makes all my phone calls since I don’t hear well on the phone. He’s actually quite fun to have around. Like when he calls a friend down the street on my cell phone for me and pretends to be me by talking in a high-pitched twiny voice, “Debbie, this is Nina. Are you home? I want to bring you something.”  This is the man I married. I’ll love him forever and ever. Amen.

So we were visiting one of my families a couple of months ago. About 20 minutes into the visit, the battery went dead in one of my hearing aids. This was the one and only time I left my purse at home. I always carry extra batteries with me for this very reason. No purse. No batteries. All I could do was remove the hearing aid and stick it in my pocket. In the process of taking it out of my ear, though, the mold fell off the tube and rolled under the couch.

As Wayne was in the middle of sharing a story or joke, whatever…he likes to do both…I got down on my hands and knees searching for the runaway mold. Upon retrieving it I got back up and realized by the looks on everyone’s faces that an explanation was needed. I think my husband said something like, “I can’t take her anywhere.”

I prayed for the family before we left, but I was thinking someone needed to pray for me.

We then walked across the lawn to this family’s parents’ house who lived right next door. Hey, let’s just keep this ministry-thing going like an Energizer battery! ‘Cause we’re still on charge. Just because I was down one hearing aid due to a dead battery was no reason to quit, right?

No sooner had we begun listening-sharing-and-all-that-other-good-stuff, my other hearing aid battery died. I’m telling you, that pink bunny stopped playing the drums right in mid-strike and left me in complete silence. The nerve. Move over you worthless rabbit, I’m switching to the copper-top.

As I took my last hearing source out of my ear and stuck it in my pocket my husband looked at me and, when he realized what had happened, a very Grinch-y smile spread across his face. He proclaimed intentionally loud enough for me to hear,

“OH GOOD! Now we can talk about Nina!”

We didn’t stay long after that. I was afraid that all my dirty secrets would be laid bare before God and everybody by a husband who claimed it was payback time.

You know, the funny thing is, I almost used my hearing disability as an excuse not to be a deaconess. In some ways, I thought it would be a hindrance. How can I effectively minister to the needs of others if I can’t always hear what they’re saying? If I can’t talk on the phone? If I can’t listen and respond appropriately?

But then, I thought about how much I enjoy serving people. I couldn’t always hear the customers when I worked at the soda fountain, either, but I like to think I made up for it with good service. I think the customers liked me as much as I liked them. I did what I could and I always tried to give my best. Isn’t that all our Lord requires of us?

Serving others isn’t about doing it right as much as it’s about doing it well. And what is right, anyway? How I serve may not be how you serve. God uses my gifts differently than He uses yours, but He’ll use us all if we have hearts willing to serve. All He wants is our best. And I can give Him that.

Like Phoebe. I can serve like Phoebe.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.” Romans 16:1

A Simple Faith


Okay. So I’m going to regale you with a story.

When I was a little girl I remember getting my panties all in a wad when I went to the grocery store with my mom and watched the grocery store people stuffing bags of chips on the shelf, mercilessly reducing the chips in those bags to rubble.

I wanted to poise my little-girl self with hands on my hips and cry out, “Don’t crush the chips!!!”

If looks could kill.

No wonder there are so many tiny broken pieces of chips in the bottom of the bag. When I was little I didn’t like the crumbs. I wanted my chips completely whole and unspoiled. I wanted them all in one divine piece when I put them in my mouth (never mind the fact they were immediately crushed between my teeth),  but n0-o-O-o-o…the Chip-Crusher had to push and shove and smash. (they’re chips, people! not sardines!!)

I just could NOT understand why it was necessary to shove so many bags of chips onto one measly shelf. Couldn’t the grocery store people be a little gentler? Kinder? After all, chips are fragile. It doesn’t take much to crush one.

Well. I have a bit of irony for you.

I am now the Chip-Crusher. Don’t hate.

Yes. I stock chips at a local Piggly Wiggly.

And yes. I push and shove and smash every single one of my chip bags. Sometimes I think I hear Taps playing as I push my cart from the stockroom to the floor, loaded with boxes of Original, Ripple, and BBQ potato chips.

Breaks my heart to pack ’em in and reduce ’em to rubble like that. Sometimes I still hear my little-girl self, “Don’t crush the chips!” I even feel an urge to tell them I’m sorry.

It’s such an unglamorous job. Stocking shelves and sweatin’ like a pig at The Pig. But seriously, we sell a lot of chips. There’s the ever-so-popular sour cream and onion chips. The green onion chips. The no-salt chips. The jalapeño chips. The hot chips. The dill pickle chips. Then there’s the pretzels in all shapes and sizes, cheese balls, potato sticks, onion rings, and pork rinds (picture me sticking my finger in mouth and gagging. can i say, disgusting? but hey, i think it’s a southern-thang. can you believe there’s actually at least 6 different varieties of pork rinds? Pul-EE-ze).

And I pack ’em ALL in. The more the merrier. ‘Cause chips sell.

Here’s the thing, though. I do a lot of thinking when I work. Except when my stomach is rumbling and I need to feed it. That’s the only thing about working in a grocery store. You can’t get away from the food. Usually my stomach rumbles right on time. I’m very good about packing my lunch because, No, I do not eat the chips.

I like to think of ways to make my work more spiritual. I don’t know. I can’t help it. God is on my mind a lot. So I was thinking how it grieved me as a little girl to see the stockers crushing the chips and how I’m now the one doing the crushing. For some strange reason this bothered me even more.

My little girl’s mind was so simple and basic and pure back then. Not perfect, mind you. But pure in the sense that I didn’t know a whole lot about a whole lot, but I knew a lot about what I knew and I knew  chips were fragile. They were easily broken. In my simpleness it seemed so unnecessary to treat them like they weren’t. What was so hard about stocking bags of chips without crushing them? All that was needed was a softer touch. A gentler hand.

It wasn’t really practical, though, but sometimes practical is good. Simple can be a good thing. Not foolish simple. Or dumb. Or even boring. But simple…easy. Or easier.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t make things so complicated.

Adult-ing is hard work. Sometimes I don’t want to adult. Sometimes I just want to think simple. Like a child. ‘Cause children have a purer faith. Whole and unspoiled.

“People were bringing little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, 

‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’

And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.'” Mark 10:13-16


Coming to Jesus for salvation was a no-brainer for me. I still remember walking down the church aisle at the age of 8 and taking my father’s hand. He actually got down on his knee to receive me. It wasn’t long after that he baptized me in the river. Things were simpler then. I still believe in my salvation, but I have trouble sometimes in the trusting department. And faith requires trust.

Faith doesn’t have to be hard, but sometimes I make it hard. 

I push in doubt. Smash in fear. And shove in worry.

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to crush me. I’m kinda fragile like that.

It’s in this weakness that I feel most like a little girl again. Because I can’t even tell you how much I love it when Jesus places His hands on me and tells me to “Come.”  It’s the thrill of my heart to know I can go to Him when I feel I’ve been packed in like too many chips and there’s all these tiny pieces at the bottom of my heart. That’s when He takes me in His arms and blesses me good.

This is the simple child-like faith I strive for every day of my life. Whole and unspoiled. Because it’s uncomplicated. And, truthfully, I like simple things.

So this is my story, but it’s not over, yet. God is still writing it. It’s a good thing, too, ’cause crushing chips isn’t who I am. Deep down I’m not a crusher. I’m a builder,

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Impromptu Worship


This morning I was feeling a little giddy about sweeping my kitchen floor.

“What’s that, you say?!?”

Yes, I was feeling happy that I could actually sweep any floor at all.

For those who have ever put your back out, you know exactly what I’m sayin’! It’s a Hallelujah-moment when you can move and twist your body in blessed normality after a week of suffering through the pain of just walking across the room. If sitting in a chair was a bear then standing still in one place was a grizzly. Made me act like one, too. (Actually, I think I held up pretty good. If you ask my husband he may testify to this…I think.)

All I can say is…Thank You, Jesus, for takin’ my pain away and strengthening the muscles in my back once again! I can actually breathe with a huge sigh of relief.

My house has been sorely neglected the past week and a half, so today I’m attempting to do a little house cleaning.  There I was…in the middle of sweeping my kitchen floor with some I Love Lucy dvds on the telly to keep me company…when all of a sudden, my spirit began singing,

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature, O Thou of God and man the Son;

Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, Thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown. 

When was the last time I heard this song? I have no idea, but this heart of mine has a lot stored up from days of my youth. Years of Sunday School, Bible study, Scripture memorization, and listening to the words of the old hymns of faith week after week have left an imprint on my soul I just can’t wash away.

It’s such a beautiful thing.

Oh, Jesus, You’re my soul’s glory, joy, and crown! 

Anyways, I stopped sweeping right in mid-swipe and went to retrieve my hymnal. After checking the index I sat in a chair and sang all 4 verses. Before I knew it, the tears were flowing and I am…well, what am I? I guess I just love it when my heart sings.

It occurred to me that I’ve had several moments of impromptu worship the past couple of weeks in spite of the fact that my ordinary life has encountered some unordinary circumstances. Like putting my back out. Like learning to keep myself moving in spite of the physical pain. Like making myself do things that my body screamed NOT to do. Like learning how to focus on doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways. Because I think it becomes extraordinary whenever we have to make changes in the way we normally do things to accommodate the abnormal.

Can I just say? Sometimes I think my whole life has been learning how to accommodate my ‘abnormalities.’ In fact, I’ll tell you the honest-to-goodness truth. When I found out I had a brain tumor back in 2002 and the doctor told me there was a very good chance I might lose ALL of my hearing in my left ear I actually said, “Well maybe God has been preparing me for this my entire life!”

Since I was born with hereditary, degenerative hearing loss I learned early on how to read lips fairly well. Not perfectly but well. It was such an amazing thing for me to realize that losing my hearing completely would not mean the end of the world.


I just love how God gets in a plain ol’ ordinary day. I love how He stops me in the middle of sweeping a dirty kitchen floor and calls me to worship. I love how He stopped me in the middle of a painful day just last week and called me to worship in spite of the pain. He sang to me that day, too. (You can read about that on my Facebook Page, Reflections On The Word.)

See, God gets in the middle of my messy days, no matter what. Whether I’m cleaning my messy house with Lucy Ricardo making messes on the tv screen or I’m pacing my house praying my little heart out fighting waves of panic and fear for those I love, I just love how God stirs my heart to stop and worship.

How can I not cherish and honor the One who has captured my soul with the light of His glory, the wonder of His joy, and the beauty of a crown on my wrinkled brow?

To focus praise on Jesus in the messiness of life is worship.

He is the fairest of them all. I guess my spirit just responds to that and my heart just had to stop and tell Him. So sing I did…

Fair are the meadows, Fairer still the woodlands, Robed in the the blooming garb of spring;

Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, Who makes the woeful heart to sing.*

And this woeful heart cannot be woeful forever when Jesus gives me a song to sing.

*(Fairest Lord Jesus, Anonymous German hymn, source unknown)