Saturday, January 27, 2018

When We're Finally Sick of Our Own Sin and Decide to Let it Go

"The craziest things happen to you," someone said recently, and they were right. Strange things do happen. An eye problem none of my physicians had seen before. A chain that broke because it mysteriously developed rust in one single link. Cane poles that had been substituted for metal fence posts. A broken knife blade left by the front door. A water pipe that froze and blew off its cap, causing a Niagara-sized flood. 

If all the odd things "meant" anything, I didn't understand it, but I'd held on to the assumption that things would settle down soon. They always have. Yesterday, I left the office at noon with plans for a productive few hours. I expected to saw down some small trees in the pasture, study a writing text, start edits, clean house, wash clothes, take out the garbage, cook a real meal instead of eat leftovers.

Very little of that was done. One thing after another happened, some of it catastrophic, some my own fault, some so disappointing I sat on the floor and wept like a baby. 

In the dark night of my soul, I saw my own heart, and the bleak vision brought even more tears. I faced my sin, and I was horrified by the pride, critical spirit, and sense of perfectionism in me. God had removed it all, but I'd allowed a seedling of sin to blossom into a vile, choking weed. Again.

I want all the wickedness gone. You may wonder if attitudes that don't manifest in significant actions are "wickedness," but the answer is yes. Sin is always wickedness. There's nothing sweet or charming about it. 

I want to be perfect, even as my Father in Heaven is perfect, but I have a long way to go. Part of the job of disciples includes quick repentance and progressive growth toward a Christ-like heart. I know none of us will be perfect this side of heaven, but I'd like to be a good bit closer than I am. Wouldn't you? 

I repented. I wept before the Lord, confessed my sin, and asked for forgiveness.

He forgave me.

It was that simple, but it didn't seem like enough. I repented some more. I wept some more. I apologized over and over again. Maybe you've never had one of those "come to Jesus" moments, but they are soul-cleansing hard, and white-as-snow beautiful. 

This morning, I still felt bad about the darkness I'd found in my heart. "I don't feel forgiven, Lord. I feel far away. Snuggle me again, Shepherd of My Heart." 

Have you ever felt this before? 

I opened my Bible to John, and reviewed the verses I'm planting in my heart. Those beautiful words washed over me like the balm of Gilead.

"For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace." John 1:16 nasb

Read those lovely words again, and ponder them with me. 

Forgiveness isn't given because of our feelings. It comes from the mercy and grace of God. He mercifully doesn't give us what we deserve. Instead, through grace, He gives us the forgiveness and cleaning we don't deserve. "And grace upon grace." He continues to give, every single time we need forgiveness. 

There was another passage that spoke to me in my despair and filled me with hope. 

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses." (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 nasb)

The weapon God has given us is powerful enough to demolish even the strongholds and fortresses in our own hearts. Our only offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and it's more than enough. 

The word of God can demolish all the lies we've embraced, all the strongholds we've allowed the enemy to claim. I saw that truth again this morning. It's only effective, however, if we know what it says and allow it to do it's beautiful work in our hearts. 

If we're tired of the load of sin we've been carrying, let's do something about it. Today, let's confess our sin and embrace the forgiveness only our loving, merciful, grace-filled Savior can give. Allow our faith to dictate to our feelings. We are loved, bought with a price, and washed white as snow. 

Let's live clean, because we are. 

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Why My Borders Need to Expand

You might also like: Demolishing Strongholds and Choosing to be Free

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Friday, January 26, 2018

Why My Borders Need to Expand

Six months or more ago, I viewed my blog analytics and realized my "audience" included a smaller age range than I intended. Where were the younger people? I was neck-deep in caring for Sam and writing the Caregiver Chronicles, so I assumed my blog posts might not be pertinent to 30-something's, but the problem gnawed at me.

I looked at my website one day and realized it was terrific for a woman of a certain age, but it wasn't a modern website, nor one that might catch the eye of a younger reader. I talked to a mid-twenties colleague and asked for suggestions. 

"You need to update your site," he told me, so I did. The "new" design looked much better, to my way of thinking. I grabbed my laptop and hurried down the hall to show my young friend. 

"What do you think?" I asked him.

"Do you want me to be honest?" 

"Yeah. I really do."

"Okay. It looks great. For a 1990's site. Let me show you what websites can look like now." With a few clicks, he opened up a new world of technology and design. 

"Can you make something like this for me?" I asked him, dizzied by the possibilities.


I hired him on the spot. It's taken a while, but the new website is finally in the process of "migration." I'm not really sure what that entails, but it's somehow moving from the old site to the new one. The domain's the same,, so I don't know why this takes so long, but it does.

The new website's been a lot of work and has required a lot of thought. There's been expense, too, for the new site, the new hosting service, new software to allow me to work more efficiently and with greater skill. The blogging course to help me "up my game" wasn't free, and it's taking quite a bit of time to work through.

Why all this effort? My objective in the blog is not to have a cool bit of technology or capture millions of views, although I'd like to have both. The goal of this blog is to demonstrate the life of a disciple by sharing the stories of my faith and God at work in my life. If I can expand my audience with sharper technology, if I can draw younger people to a life of faith lived out loud, my words can help expand the Kingdom of God, change lives, and make a difference in the world around me.

This morning, I read Mark 1 and the words confirmed the importance of what I'm trying to do. Jesus was in Capernaum. He'd taught in the synagogue that morning, then healed Peter's mother-in-law. The news spread like wildfire through the little town. After sundown, the "whole city" came to His door. 

They'd heard about the miracle of healing and wanted Jesus to do a miracle for them, and He did. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and loved the people who came. 

Just after dawn, Jesus slipped away to a quiet place to pray. Before long, His disciples found Him. (Leanna paraphrase coming up.) "Hey, Jesus, everyone's looking for you."

"I know. But we need to move on to a different town."

"What? You're an overnight sensation. Everybody wants to see you!"

"I didn't come here to be an overnight sensation. We need to move to another town so I can preach the good news. That's the reason I came."

There were sick people who wanted to be healed. Jesus cared about their illnesses, but He cared about their sin-sickness even more. Preaching, sharing the good news, was His priority. He chose to move along in order to accomplish that goal.

Therein is the reason for the new website. If sharing the Good News of Jesus is my priority, I need to continue to move in a direction that allows me to share with all who will listen (or read). If I can widen my technological borders, it's important to do so.

This is Great Commission work, and one to which we're all called. Share Jesus with all who will listen, as effectively as possible, wherever we are. For me, that includes time in the digital space. 

Today, let's spend a few moments considering our own witness. How effectively are we communicating the love of Jesus and His soul-saving power? Are we living out the Great Commission in our slice of the world? Do we need to "up our game" to widen our own personal audience? 

The Great Commission is not a suggestion. It's an assignment. Let's be sure we're doing our part.

"And He said to them, 'Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for.'" Mark 1:38 nasb

In case you missed it, here's the most recent post: The Walk Down Memory Lane that Filled Me with Joy

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Walk Down Memory Lane That Filled Me With Joy

My life changed irrevocably on September 24, 2013, at 6:21 am, when I posted my first blog post. For more than four years, I've chronicled my adventures, faith, and the work of God in my life on a daily basis. I've shared my highest highs and lowest lows, my griefs and joys. 

The blog will soon move to my personal website. It's considerably more modern and more beautiful. This blog space, however, is very precious to me.  Last night, I spent several hours in the "old" blog's archive, and realized the photos represented every major event of the last four years. 

My fledgling attempts at fiction writing, my son's graduation from college, the time The Clay Papers e-book went to #1 on Amazon and stayed there for four days, my dogs, my trip to the Bahamas, my trips to Jordan when I fell in love with a nation and her people, holidays, Bible studies, volunteering, becoming a missionary, caring for Sam... Everything is documented in the photographs I've shared.

As I roamed through the digital archive, I re-read the stories, as well. You've lived life with me, and I'm eternally grateful. I hope you'll continue through this transition and beyond. You've made me a better writer, because you've been such faithful readers, and I hope I never stop thanking you all for such a precious gift. 

My trip down memory lane took me inevitably to my first blog post, when I trusted God and you with my writing. I'm still grateful for that leap of faith. Reading it again was a blessing to me, so I've included it below. I hope it's a blessing to you, as well. Thank you for making my life so very rich and full by reading and loving what I write.

Much love and thanks, 


Deadwood and Divine Pruning

The shrubs and landscaping in front of my house were overgrown and threatening to completely block the sidewalk. It seems crazy now, but even though it looked messy and was becoming an azalea jungle, I couldn't figure out how to fix it. 

I didn't realize it, but I needed an expert.

My friend, Linda Buchanan, mentioned her new yard man one day. Mr. Bailey was a wonder and a great help, she said, so I called him. That first day, I instructed him to clean up the front and trim the shrubs a little. 

I had no idea what he was about to do.

A few hours later, I walked outside to see an enormous pile of brush. Mr. Bailey had trimmed more than I expected. My heart sank as I thought, "My azaleas! He has cut down my azaleas!" I hurried around front to find, not destruction, but order. He had trimmed up the mess and brought it under control. 

Instead of a jungle, I had lovely landscaping again.

John the Baptizer's listeners were in a similar situation. They knew they had a mess in their lives and that something needed to be done. That's why they had come out to the banks of the Jordan to hear him. Their heritage wasn't enough to save them, nor their sacrifices. They were in a quandary. What then? What could they do?

He began by giving practical examples of sacrificial behavior. Shortly, however, Jesus would come for baptism, and John would recognize exactly what they all needed. The Lamb of God would take away their sin. They couldn't do anything to rectify their guilt but Jesus would do it for them and He would soon set them free.

Maybe you, too, are wondering what to do about problems in your life or in the lives of loved ones. You may not realize it, but, like me, you need an expert. 

The answer is incredibly simple. Look to Jesus. 

He can clean up the mess of your life as well as that of your loved ones. He can clean up the guilt and shame and set you free.

Today, let's pray for a heart willing to accept the kind of divine pruning only Christ can do. 

And the crowds were questioning him, saying, "Then what shall we do?" (Luke 3:10 NASB)

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NASB)
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: When the Lion Roars: Five Promises Christians Can Claim

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

When the Lion Roars: Five Promises Christians Can Claim

Blog posts ideas don't always pop into my head fully formed. Sometimes, I open my computer and stare at the blank page, my brain equally blank because I have no idea what to write.

On those days, I use an unusual story prompt: my photo app. I open the photo file and scroll through until something catches my attention or an idea comes to mind. Today, I decided to try a variation on the story-prompt theme. I opened a free photo site and scrolled through until I saw the photo of the roaring lion. A verse from 1 Peter came to mind and a blog post was born. 

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8 nasb 

The lion's roar is a terrifying sound, and can be heard up to five miles away. According to, "lions roar to tell other lions where they are, to show how big they are, and to warn lions from other prides to keep away from their home territory."   

The lion's roar is a loud message that says, in a way, "I'm here and so big you can't get away. Don't tangle with me. Don't invade my space." It's a message of pride that defies other animals to venture into his territory. 

How does that translate to the spiritual realm? 

1) The lion's roar proclaims his size. The evil one roars to proclaim his dominance over us. He would have us believe he's the biggest, baddest lion in the area, but that's a lie. 

"Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4) 

If Scripture is true, and it is, Satan is not greater, or more powerful, than our God. 

2) The lion's roar proclaims his proximity. In a way, the roar says, "I'm right on top of you. I have you now." The enemy of our souls would have us believe he's so close we will not be able to resist or flee. Jesus, however, said He and His Father would live in us. 

"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." John 14:23 

No matter what the enemy says, He cannot evict our Father. 

3) The lion's roar proclaims his ownership. When the lion roars to proclaim his territory, he defies other lions to risk entering. As Christians, however, we do not belong to the world or the powers of this world. 

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body."  1 Corinthians 6:19,20 nasb

Regardless of what the enemy claims, he does not have authority over us. 

4. The lion's roar proclaims his power. The roaring lion would have other lions believe he is big enough and powerful enough to defend that which is his. In that same way, the evil one would have us believe he is powerful enough to destroy us and that God cannot snatch us from his claws nor deliver us in time of danger and temptation.

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13 niv

5. The lion's roar proclaims his victory. A victory in advance of battle is nothing more than a prideful boast. We may experience battle with the evil one, but we have all we need for battle, and we fight a defeated foe.

"Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Ephesians 6:13 

God has already given us the defensive weapons to protect ourselves from the onslaught of the evil one. He has also given us the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, which is the only offensive weapon we will ever need. We must know Scripture, however, to use it. We do have power, but we must be prepared before the lion roars. 

Lions roar, because that's how they're made. The evil one also roars with pride and defiance, because that's who he is. Fear and defeat are his objectives, but we can stand firm in the face of his tactics, if we remember the truth God has given. 

The power, authority, and ownership of our souls were bought by Jesus with His precious blood. The enemy's claim on us has been broken. We have been set free, from sin, death, and the roar of the lion. 

Today, let's evaluate the roar of the evil one in our lives. Do we tremble with fear when he threatens? Does fear cause us to run straight into his lair? Let's remember Whose we are and live as those who have been redeemed. 

We have been freed, so let's live free.
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: When Where You Arrive is Not Where You Meant to Go

Monday, January 22, 2018

When Where You Arrive Is Not Where You Meant to Go

I've been super-busy preparing for the new website and the new blog. Everything will finally be in one place. You'll be able to go directly to the blog without social media links if you want, although those links will still be available. You'll be able to comment on the blog without signing in to Google or going back to a social media site, and I'll be able to easily reply.

There will also be a store with a variety of items for sale. One item I've worked on recently is the James Bible study. When I finished writing it, I posted it as a dropbox file for readers to download to their computers. What I quickly learned was that most of my readers use their phones or tablets to access the blog, not a computer. 

I tried converting to a series of six blog files, as well as to a print version, but neither worked well. Recently, I decided to do what I should've done all along. Make an e-book. 

As part of the preparation for uploading the file, I spent days reworking my document endnotes ("footnotes" placed at the end of the book instead of the bottom of the page). I went through every link to be sure it worked. I reread the text several times to check for errors. I studied James, and was kicked in the repenter again.

Once all that was done, I signed in to Amazon's easy create-a-book site and went to work. I designed a lovely cover, uploaded the photos and file, corrected formatting, and was almost ready to hit "publish" when I noticed something odd. There was nothing about e-books on the web page. 

I fretted with this for an absurdly long time before I realized a critical fact. I was on the site to publish print books, not e-books. 

I had gone to the wrong website and was seconds away from a book I didn't want. Where I meant to go was not where I'd arrived.

I backed out of the print site and went to the e-book prep site. An entirely different bit of formatting needed to be done. Because I work on a MAC, the e-book Table of Contents and internal links all had to be done by hand. It was way past bedtime when I finished last night.

The problem of arriving where I didn't intend to go was quickly solved by opening a new tab on my web browser. The problem of an eternal destination error is not as easily solved, however. 

Just as I had two publication options (print or e-book), we have two eternal destinations. Heaven or hell. We choose our destination in advance and, unlike publication options, once arrived, the choice cannot be undone. 

As James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote, our faith is revealed by our works. Faith that isn't manifested by works is dead. In other words, if our faith doesn't change us and make us more like Jesus, we need to consider whether we have saving faith or not. 

Those are hard words, but they come straight from Scripture. I'd soften them a bit and wrap them in flowery prose. James does not. He'd rather offend and save a soul than cushion someone in comfortable words that usher them straight to hell.

James urged those to whom he wrote to examine their faith. We'd be wise to do the same. To what kind of faith do our works give evidence? Is Christ clearly seen in our words, our actions, our deeds? 

If all we do is sit on a pew once a week, can we, realistically, expect that kind of faith to take us to heaven? According to James, it's life-altering, behavior-changing faith that assures our eternity with Jesus, not attendance at a series of meetings, not matter how well-intended. 

If heaven's where we want to spent eternity, let's be sure that's where we're headed. None of us can enter God's home on our goodness alone. We're all sinners. It takes faith, covered by the grace of God, to enter Heaven.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 niv 
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Importance of Mucking Out the Stalls
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Importance of Mucking Out the Stalls

The photo today might be a little bit shocking, but bear with me. Yes, the contents of the wheelbarrow are exactly what you think. Manure. It's a part of my daily routine. 

When the temperatures are low or the weather is stormy, my horses go into the barn for their evening meal and to sleep overnight. The next morning, they have breakfast and go outside again, where fresh water, grass, and hay await them. 

My job is to prepare the stalls in which they reside. Every day, I fill the racks with fresh hay and the water buckets with fresh water. I also scoop out the waste from the night before. Part of that waste is hay that's been trodden underfoot. Part of it is the droppings they've left behind. 

There's something oddly appealing about the job of "mucking out" the stalls. I take great pleasure in a clean stall that, moments before, was filled with the stench of waste.The work results in clean stalls in which my horses will be more comfortable. It makes a safer environment for them because the bacteria-laden manure is not left as a breeding place for disease. 

When the wheelbarrow is full, I roll it to a hole that needs to be filled, and dump it. Nothing is wasted. In a year or two, the manure and hay will degrade into composted soil that will make a happy home for grass or flowers. 

I pray as I scoop out the waste. Earlier this week, I had a conversation with the Lord that went a little like this:

"Whew. Calli sure was busy last night, Lord. There's a mountain of pooh in here. I could smell it when I walked in the barn."

I scooped for a bit, then something occurred to me. "Lord, I hope my sin doesn't seem as unattractive to You as this stall is to me."

That Still, Small Voice didn't hesitate for a moment. It wasn't an out-loud voice, but in my heart, I knew. "It's much worse."

I leaned on my scoop and pondered that for a while. The stench of sin rises up to the Lord, just as our offerings of praise and love rise up. Our prayers are a sweet smelling incense to Him. Our sin is not. It's offensive and foul. 

Our job as disciples is to muck out the stalls of our hearts every day and remove the droppings of sin and our encounters with the world. When we do, we present a sweet-smelling home in our hearts for our Lord to reside. When we don't, we risk the disease of sin breeding in our hearts and minds. We also leave an odor that's unpleasant to the Lover of our souls. 

Today, let's take a closer look at our hearts. Is there anything there that needs to be "mucked out?" If so, let's do the work of repentance until it's done so that we can present our Lord a heart that's beautifully cleansed. Done daily, the job is repentance is quick work, so let us not delay. 

"Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you." Romans 8:8,9 BSB

"And the smoke of he incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand." Revelation 8:4 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Footprints in the Snow