Saturday, November 21, 2015

Grateful heart: Maggie Protects her Master

I had written for hours and was exhausted from being inside the head of one of my main characters. He's not a nice person yet, and I don't know how he stands himself. The Wonder Dogs and I had gone outside for a break and were sitting on the patio.

When car tires crunched on gravel, both dogs were instantly alert. I assumed it was Sam, coming to walk them. After a few minutes of gravel crunching, I realized the car was coming closer to the house than our much-loved neighbor usually does. It wasn't Sam, after all.

It was the meter reader. More precisely, it was the meter reader's car with an apprentice meter reader at the wheel. Maggie was out of my lap like a bullet from a gun, barking and racing for her target. She did not like this new meter reader one bit. She barked non-stop, circling him and getting ever closer. She was so frantic that I worried she would bite him. 

It was only after he finished and returned to his car that I realized how thoroughly Maggie had tried to protect me. Maggie weighs 13 pounds. The meter reader weighed at least 150 pounds. She was badly outmatched, but she never backed down. Instead, she positioned herself in between the perceived danger and her master. 

If that meter reader wanted to hurt me, he would have to go through Maggie to do it.

I've pondered the ferocity of her protection the last few hours, and I'm still stunned and grateful. (Also very glad she didn't bite the meter reader.) There was nothing she wouldn't do to protect me.

The verses that sustained me through the worst time of my life are from Exodus 14. The children of Israel were trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. They were terrified and didn't know which way to go. Either way seemed to offer certain destruction. 

"But Moses said to the people, 'Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians who you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent." Ex 14:13, 14

 Maggie's ferocity was a picture of our Lord in action, but He is no midget-fighter. He, too, loves us beyond all measure. He, too, fights for us against all our foes. When the children of Israel were in trouble, He positioned Himself between them and their enemies. He fought for them as they crossed safely through the Red Sea.

The Psalmist understood this beautiful picture of going before and standing between. In Psalm 23, David wrote of the Good Shepherd's leading and watch care. He goes before. Danger must pass through Him to get to His sheep, and He is an impenetrable guard. With Goodness and Mercy following along behind, we are cocooned and sheltered from any danger. 

No matter what comes our way, God is there. He is with us. He is guarding and protecting us. Will we encounter trouble? Sorrow? Grief? Yes. This is a fallen world filled with fallen and sinful people. Neither trouble, sorrow, nor grief cannot defeat us, for God Himself will turn tragedy into triumph and defeat into the kind of glorious victory we can only imagine.

He will fight for us, and we are safe. No matter what comes. 

Rest in that truth today. Don't forget to pray for all those around our world who have encountered the world's trouble and are struggling with the grief of loss. 
In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: Grateful Heart: Worldwide Kindness,  Remembering Paris,  Persevering for ParisResisting EvilPraying for PeaceAnswered Prayers in Disguise, and Grateful Heart: Mizpah.

The most viewed post of the last week was Remembering Paris
#Heishere #Godishere #Lordismyshepherd #hope #GoodShepherd

Friday, November 20, 2015

Nigerian Nightmare

Abubakar Shekau

My heart was already broken over the attacks in Paris. After I spent a few glorious days in Paris, that city became "my" city. Her people became "my" people. 

Now, my heart is broken over the latest from Nigeria. Do you remember the Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram?  Most of them are still missing. After I prayed for their release and protection for weeks on end, those girls became part of me, and I have not forgotten them. 

The people of Nigeria became "my" people and I love them. Today, I weep with them. 

Now, my people have suffered yet another atrocity. Two bombers, one in Yola and one in Kano, have caused at least forty-five deaths and nearly 200 injuries in the last twenty-four hours. 

As if that news was not bad enough, there is more tragedy. The bombers were female. One was 18 years old and one was 11 years old.

A child, a little girl, blew herself up. 

The girls were delivered to their bomb targets by a minivan carrying four other children, presumably also potential bombers. 

I can't begin to imagine what kind of madness convinces a child this is a good idea. What kind of evil would recruit a little girl to do this?

No one has claimed responsibility yet, but Boko Haram, closely allied with ISIS, is the leading suspect. Abubakar Shekau (photo above) is the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria. 

Law enforcement personnel are actively pursing those responsible for these latest atrocities, but they desperately need our help, our prayer support.

Please join me in praying for the people of Nigeria and specifically for those who have lost loved ones in these latest attacks. 

Pray, too, for those who are injured, that they might recover from their wounds. Pray that no root of bitterness results from the actions of Boko Haram, but that, instead, people will be drawn to faith in God. Pray for the terrorists who orchestrated these attacks and for the children still in their control. Pray for restoration of a culture of life that values every life, every child and rises up against those who would destroy life.

I realize we could pray non-stop and never completely cover any one of the horrors our world faces today, but we must not become discouraged. Today, the people of Nigeria are heartbroken. As the body of Christ, those believers in Nigeria are one with us. We share their joy and, today, we share their sorrow. 

We weep with you, Nigeria. We pray for you. We are so sorry, so very sorry for your loss.

Pray without ceasing. It's the most important thing we can do.
For other posts on this topic, here are additional links:
Bringing the Kidnapped Nigerian Girls Home, Persisting in Prayer, Persecuted Church in Nigeria, and Aba-na

photo by
In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: Grateful Heart: Worldwide Kindness,  Remembering Paris,  Persevering for ParisResisting EvilPraying for PeaceAnswered Prayers in Disguise, and Grateful Heart: Mizpah.

The most viewed post of the last week was Remembering Paris
#Nigerianbombings #Nigeria #BokoHaram #pray4Nigeria #praywithoutceasing

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Grateful Heart: Mizpah


I was reading about the parting of Jacob and his uncle Laban today and found an interesting word. The two men had a rocky relationship, as you may remember. Laban tricked and cheated Jacob repeatedly. Jacob was no stranger to trickery and cheating, as he had tricked and cheated his own brother and father. 

At last, the two men parted and Jacob headed back to his family. At the parting, they made a covenant and set up a memorial stone, which they named Mizpah. This is a Hebrew word meaning watchtower. 

Jacob and Laban's Mizpah was a rock of remembrance, a reminder that the Lord watched between them both while they were absent from one another.

A mizpah is a watchtower, or a "lofty place" from which you can see far and wide. It's the place where a lookout stands to watch for trouble, and it describes the careful watch of our Lord. 

He can see everything. He misses nothing.  

This principle is the reason I could bear my son going five hours away for college. It's the reason I could bear him traveling with 4H most of one summer when he was in high school. It's the reason I can be away from my family, all of whom live at least 90 miles from me. God not only watches over me, He also watches over those I love who are far from me. 

I can trust Him to care for the ones I love with the same tender love He lavishes on me.

No matter how far away our loved ones are, no matter the circumstances in which they find themselves, we can count on the mizpah of God. He knows. He sees. He cares. 

For today, join me in giving thanks for the tender watch care of God between us and those we love. 

It's a wonderful truth. He is here, no matter where "here" may be. 

In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: Grateful Heart: Laughter and Grateful Heart: Worldwide Kindness,  Remembering Paris,  Persevering for ParisResisting EvilPraying for Peace, and Answered Prayers in Disguise.

The most viewed post of the last week was Remembering Paris
#grateful heart #mizpah #Hesees  #watchcare #watchtower

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Answered prayers in disguise

Yes. That's my greenhouse. I hated to share this photo, but it fits so well with our topic today (and in the interest of killing my pride), I'm sharing it.

I've had problems with the panels in my greenhouse ever since I bought it. It was a kit and assembling it did not go the way I expected. 

Having a greenhouse in general has not gone the way I expected, either. 

The wind-blown look is nice for hair. It's not so nice for greenhouses. 

At first, every time the wind blew (usually accompanied by rain), one of the panels would blow out. After the rain stopped, I would retrieve the panels from the surrounding pasture, climb on my ladder, and replace the panels.

Do you have any idea how many times the wind has blown in the last two years?

At last, I hit on a great idea. I would caulk the panels in place. I've bought so many tubes of caulk, I should get a volume discount. It seemed, at first, as if the caulk-plan was going to work. The greenhouse survived several bad wind storms without problem.

Not long ago, though, we had another storm and two panels blew out from the roof. I wasn't quite tall enough to caulk around them and secure them in place, so I did what I always do. I prayed. "Lord, I need some help with this greenhouse and these panels."

Yesterday, Sam and a couple of my friends came to help. They brought a special (taller) ladder and we began to reposition one of the panels. 

The wind was blowing like crazy. 

Somehow, the wind caught a third panel and blew it out into the pasture. I retrieved that panel and returned to the first one. It blew out. We retrieved the first panel and tried again. We managed to get the first panel in place and caulked around it. 

Another big whoosh of wind blew the caulked panel out. Again. 

I retrieved it from the pasture. Again.

My friend looked at the caulk-dripping panel and said, "Do you have a tarp?"

I did. It wasn't big enough. 

I made a quick trip to the farm supply store and came home with a new tarp. It was too big. We decided to use it anyway. It was an adventure, but at last we had the tarp in place.

When I prayed for help with my greenhouse panels, I had a very specific answer in mind. I expected to have those panels caulked and in place at the end of my answered prayer. Instead, I have a big blue tarp tied with baling string on my greenhouse. The answer to my prayer doesn't look at all like I expected.

I have written and spoken about prayer for more than a decade. I know all the verses about prayer and have memorized quite a few of them. One popular verse is Mark 11:24 nasb:
Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." 

I prayed and asked for help with my greenhouse. I believed and it was granted. It doesn't look like what I expected. 

I know another powerful verse on prayer, however, and that's one I also pray regularly. "Thy will be done." It's one of the prayers I've prayed about my greenhouse, too, because it is the prayer that never fails.

After the caulk-dripping panel blew out, my friend walked around the greenhouse for a careful look. "When the wind and the rain stop, I believe I can fix this problem." He described a solution that will end my wind-tossed-flying-panel problem. It's a long-term solution.

The blue tarp is simply one step on the road to the answer to my prayers. 

The problem I have sometimes is that my view is more short-sighted than God's. He works from an eternal perspective. His answers to my prayers sometimes unfold with a longer view, as well. 

I wanted a quick solution to my greenhouse problem. What God has sent is a temporary measure with a better and more permanent solution yet to come. 

I'm embracing the blue tarp. It's one more reminder that prayer is always answered, but sometimes the answer looks nothing like I expected and takes longer (and more steps) than I planned. 

If your prayers seem unanswered, don't give up hope. God always answers prayers, but sometimes it takes a closer look to recognize His hand. Sometimes, it takes a big blue tarp and a roll of baling string to move you one step closer to His ultimate solution. Don't despair. The tarp isn't the end. There is more on the way. God's answer is still unfolding. And I'm so glad it is.

Pray without ceasing and never give up hope. 

In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: Grateful Heart: VeteransGrateful Heart: Laughter and Grateful Heart: Worldwide Kindness,  Remembering Paris,  Persevering for ParisResisting Evil and Praying for Peace

The most viewed post of the last week was Remembering Paris
#answeredprayer #praywithoutceasing #greenhouseadventure 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Praying for Peace

I wanted to write a "touching story" today. A Maggie story or a farm life story. I long for a dose of fun, easy brain candy. Today, however, is not one of those days. I promise I will write something fun this week, so please don't abandon me.

As I was pondering what to write this morning, I decided to check the news, just in case something immense had happened.

Something immense has happened. 

France has launched fresh airstrikes against ISIS in retaliation for the Paris attacks and acknowledged that they are at war. Russia has launched airstrikes against ISIS in retaliation for the bomb that brought down their Russian airliner. Israel has called for Arab nations to join with them to defeat ISIS. The Pentagon is calling for a "global coalition" to defeat ISIS. 

It has started. 

I fear that World War III, though yet unacknowledged, has begun. 

This enemy must be defeated, but I am frightened by how the coming months and years will go. I've read Ernie Pyle's book, Brave Men. This daring war correspondent climbed into foxholes with our soldiers, ate the rations they ate, slept on the ground as they slept, went unwashed as our soldiers did. He experienced war first-hand and described the conditions of war in clear terms. It's horrible. 

I'm not sure we, in this country, understand war enough to fear it. Those who have had war in their streets, occupation forces in their cities, bombs falling on their homes understand war in a deep way, and they fear it. They run from it. 

This time, ISIS has vowed to bring war to our streets, occupation forces to our cities, destruction to our homes. When they are finished, we, too, will understand war and evil enough to fear it at the core of our being.

Since ISIS took over Fallujah in January 2014, their progress has been relentless. Their gains have been immense. I reviewed the timeline of WWII this morning, as well as a timeline of ISIS activity. The similarities between the rise of the Nazi's and the rise of ISIS are frighteningly similar, as is the pull into world war. 

If you haven't reviewed those facts lately, I encourage you to do so. My intent is not to create fear but to create an understand of the immense need for repentance, humility, and prayer.

God is still in control.  

He was in control before ISIS was formed. He will still be in control after ISIS has been annihilated.

Is there nothing we can do to protect ourselves? Yes. There's plenty we can do, and no political platform is required. Here's three steps you and I, from the comfort of our homes, can take to help end the tyranny.

There is great freedom in truth, so seek it. 

In fact, it was Jesus who said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." (Of course, He was speaking of the truth of the gospel, but there is freedom in truth. John 8:32) I encourage you to learn the truth about current political events. Don't go to "opinion" blogs or news sites. Search for unbiased truth and unvarnished facts.  

There is great power in repentance and prayer, so do it. 

2 Chronicles 7:14 offers a promise for those who will sacrifice to obtain forgiveness and healing. "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

There is great protection in righteousness, so hunger and thirst for it. 

Psalm 9:9-10 promises a stronghold for those who put their trust in God. "The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You."

There is no need to fear, for God is still in control, but there is a need to act with humility, repentance, and prayer.

Today, let us pray for ourselves, to be the kind of disciples Christ intended us to be, to be the salt and light that adds the flavor of Christ and brings the light of His Spirit into a dark and perishing world. 

Pray for us as a nation and for our world. Pray that the reign of the evil one will come to an end. Pray that, as a nation, we will seek God's face, his forgiveness, his healing and, in so doing, lead the world in repentance and healing.

Pray for peace.
Photo courtesy of
In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: Loss of PowerGrateful Heart: VeteransGrateful Heart: Laughter and Grateful Heart: Worldwide Kindness,  Remembering Paris,  Persevering for Paris, and Resisting Evil.

The most viewed post of the last week was Remembering Paris

#Prayers4Peace #ISIS #disciple #JesusChrist #saltandlight

Monday, November 16, 2015

Resisting Evil

Beirut, Lebanon where forty people were killed by ISIS bombs this weekend.

I hate to admit this, but, when I heard that France was bombing the ISIS capital, my first thought was, "Good. I'm sick to death of them." All thoughts of praying for my enemies flew right out of my mind, maybe because praying for my enemies is not as tightly implanted in my heart as I'd hoped. 

My first response was not to pray for our enemy, ISIS. It was not even to pray for those anti-ISIS people whose city has been overrun by these terrorists. 

I don't presume to know the mind of God in this big mess, but I do know that we have a worldwide crisis and an extremely volatile situation. My second thought was, "And so, World War III has started and we don't even realize it. At least not yet."

I want ISIS stopped. Please don't get me wrong about that.

But. I have a son.

I understand the need for a military effort, but I also know that every plane carries humans who do the tasks of war - piloting, navigating, bombing. Every gun requires a human to shoot it. Every tank requires a human to drive it, to fire its guns. 

Those humans are someone's brother or sister, son or daughter, father or mother. They are loved. They are needed.  

Unlike the terrorists, (one of whom blew up his own younger brother) I would not willingly sacrifice my son for anyone's cause. War scares me. I understand its necessity, but it is not to be taken lightly, for men and women someone loves will be in danger. 

In truth, they (and we) are already in danger, regardless. 

ISIS has promised attacks on Washington. It's not a threat. It's a promise, and I have no doubt they intend to fulfill their promise. 

Just this weekend, they attacked both Paris and Lebanon. A week ago, they killed 200 children in Syria. Their reign of terror seems to have no end.

The heinous acts of evil men and women are, however, not new. ISIS is not the first organization to do the unspeakable and call it good. Nearly two thousand year ago, the Apostle Peter wrote of this unending reign of evil. His words are worth remembering.

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world..." 1 Peter 5:8-9 nasb

Just before these wise words, he also wrote of a beautiful, comforting truth. 

"He cares for you."

We serve a God who knows us, knows our situation, and cares. He cares about our loved ones in harms' way. He cares about the ones who will survive their fight and the ones who will not. He cares about the ones of us who will be left to grieve. Whatever happens, He cares.

Therefore, Peter wrote, humble yourselves... cast your cares on Him... trust Him... and resist evil.

We are living in perilous, explosive times and there is one response that we must not forget in all our resisting. 

Pray without ceasing...
     for our nation
     for our leaders
     for our soldiers
     for an end to the evil in this world 
     for protection from evil until our Lord returns to carry us home.

This is a beautiful but dangerous world we're living in, my brothers and sisters. We will never be safe until we reach eternity. Until then, let's serve well, pray well, love well.

In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: The Blessings That Were Not,  Loss of PowerGrateful Heart: VeteransGrateful Heart: Laughter and Grateful Heart: Worldwide Kindness,  Remembering Paris, and Persevering for Paris.

The most viewed post of the last week was Remembering Paris
#ISIS #resistevil #Pray4Paris #Pray4Syria #Pray4Lebanon #Praywithoutceasing

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Persevering for Paris

In April of 2014, 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from their school by Boko Haram. More than eighteen months later, those girls are still missing. A few have escaped, but many families still grieve as they fearfully wait for news of their girls. 

At the time, there was a surge of worldwide compassion. There were more than a million #bringbackourgirls tweets. I wrote blogs and calls to pray for the girls. Now, we seldom hear about those missing girls. 

There is so much evil in this world that our compassion for one need quickly cools as a "hotter" need draws us away. 

So it was with the schoolgirls. So it was with the videos of the beheadings of more than a dozen young Egyptian Coptic Christians. 

I fear our compassion for Paris will soon cool, as well, drawn away by yet another outrage. I fear my own compassion will soon cool.

This morning, I looked back through my "terrorist" blogs and found a plethora of posts. Prayers for the kidnapped girls, prayers for a variety of terrorists, prayers for terrorist organizations. (Not that they prosper, of course, but that they be brought to a halt.) 

I long to move past outrage to action. I long to make a greater difference in this war. 

Is no one attacking at the source of terrorist recruitment? Is no one targeting their funding? It turns out that they are. In April, CBS news reported a joint effort by the US and UAE (United Arab Emirates). The Sawab Center has been formed to counter the terror organizations' intense presence in social media. It's worth looking at their website for more information.

I long to help, but I am just one woman in a tiny town in a small state in a great big world. 

What can I do? Perhaps you feel that way, too. 

Let us not lose sight of the fact that we are not without hope. We are not without "connections". We serve a great and mighty God who leans forward to hear when His people pray. There is a point, a purpose to our efforts in prayer. They do make a difference. 

If our prayers can make a difference, why, then, do we not pray as if our very lives depended upon it? As if our world depended upon it?

After the people of Israel asked for a flesh-and-blood king, rather than the Most High God, they begged Samuel to pray for them. His response was one we, too, should have concerning the issue of terrorists and their victims.

"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you..." 1 Samuel 12: 23 nasb

This time, let us persevere for Paris. Let us continue to pray. 

As we pray, let's not lose sight of all who suffer, all who have suffered at the hand of these brutal terrorists. Let's not forget that Saul was once a brutal terrorist before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and became the Apostle Paul. 

He who changed a Saul into a Paul can still transform terrorists today. Let's pray He does.

Here are links to previous blog posts about this issue: (They are designed to open in new tabs) If you have time, read through them as a reminder of the needs for which we battle and as guides as you pray. 

Fight well, fellow warriors. 

Bringing Nigerian Schoolgirls Home

The Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls
The Missing Nigerian Schoolgirls
Praying for Nineveh (Assyrians)
Persecuted Church in Nigeria
The Terrorist Prayer List
Radical obedience: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi\
Radical obedience: Hamas and Khaled Meshaal
Radical obedience: Boko Haram and Abubakar Shekau  
Radical obedience: Ibrahim al Asiri
Radical obedience: Nasir al Wuhayshi     
Photo courtesy of In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: The Blessings That Were Not,  Loss of PowerGrateful Heart: VeteransGrateful Heart: Laughter and Grateful Heart: Worldwide Kindness, and Remembering Paris.

The most viewed post of the last week was Remembering Paris

#Prayers4Paris #ISIS  #Paris #PowerofPrayer #JesusChrist #disciple #BringBackourSchoolgirls