bloom in the chill

To help fight the seasonal blahs which usually hit me in the sunless midwinter, I love to bring a bunch of fresh cut tulips home to brighten my kitchen table.  

Last week, as i bought some lovely pink tulips, the florist passed on a wise tip which has stuck with me. She suggested adding an ice cube to the water in my vase each day, to keep the tulips at their best. When I gave her the, “Really?!” look, she smiled and nodded, then mentioned how this only works for tulips.

A good florist knows the quirks of each type of flower they work with. And as God so nudgingly pointed out to me a few moments later, the same applies with people.

When we live or work with other people, we need to know enough about them to know how we can best relate or compliment each other’s skills/talents/gifts.

A good spouse, parent, child, coworker, co-minister gets to know those with whom they are spending their time, because each of us has a quirk just like the tulips do.

We are all made one of a kind, and as a result, what might work with one family member, friend or coworker won’t with another because of their differences, even if they have many commonalities.

The hardest part becomes when someone you work with or love throws an ice cube your way.

And you aren’t a tulip…

  • If that ice cube comes in a harsh word, those who feel most appreciated through kind words will curl their blooms tightly, pulling away.
  • Should the ice come in refusing to block out time together, the one who connects the most through quality time will feel unloved, and begin to wither the longer they are apart.
  • If the ice cube is the only touch felt by those who need caring touch to know they are loved, they feel that chill right down to their roots.
  • When the ice cube is the sole thing you have received from them, and gifts make you spread your bloom towards the sun, you bend over from the weight of disappointment.
  • Should that ice cube be the only gesture they have made, and loving actions is your chlorophyll, the lack of kindness will leave you dry and thirsty.

I have been learning that God is more than enough to help us cope with the icy chills which come our way whether in action or an unkind word, whether unplanned or deliberately tossed towards us.

There is nothing new under the sun, as God knows. As He knows each and every one of us intimately as our Creator, He is the best one to turn to to ask how to deal with the situation, sort our emotions out as we may need to, turn our hurts and anger over to Him, and then to respond as He leads us to.

Last week, I had a doozy of ice cubes tossed my way.  Most unintentionally, a few intentionally.  The resulting chill was intense, and painful.

Yet God knew they were coming my way, and prepared me with wise counsel ahead of time, so I could discern what was actually happening.

Because He did so, most people around me didn’t know there was a heaviness below the surface as I was inviting Him to warm up the chilly places within, and replace them with the warmth of His love.

Beloved, God has made a way for you too to bloom in the chill.

Draw close to the light of the Son. (John 8:12)

Let His Word feed you as you let Him lead you in the growth awaiting in this season. (Matthew 4)

Listen for His love song being sung over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Allow His love to ignite into such a fire in your heart that no matter what icy darts the enemy tries to sling your way, they will melt as you come near to Him.  (Psalm 39:3, James 4:8)PicsArt_02-23-07.43.49

to do continues…

Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace.
– 2 Cor 13:11

I don’t know about you, but when I see a list like this in the Scriptures, I am reminded of my daily to-do list.

We are to show our joy, our maturity, our love for one another through encouragement, and harmonious peaceful living.

His to-do list.

On the days when I can’t see that being possible, God always reminds me that I was never meant to do any of this life on my own. He is with me, in me and guiding me through each moment.

My job? To let Him live His to-do list through me!

Lord, i am ready to do the living You have for me today, as You live it through my words, actions and thoughts. May time with You head up my to-do list every day, and may all I do flow out of where You are leading me, for Your Kingdom & Your glory, always.


kingdom come

With every act of love,
we bring the kingdom come.
-Jason Gray

I heard that song lyric for the first time today, and God floored me as I was headed in to work.

For years, I have felt guilty or ‘less than’ for not being an evangelist, or walking up to random strangers and proclaiming Christ out loud.

This line….God used it to reveal to me that when I smile, and offer a glimpse of hope, His kingdom comes.

When I help a friend, coworker or stranger in need- His kingdom come.

When I sing and invite His Presence to invade whatever space I am on, His kingdom come.

When we use our gifts & talents for His glory, His kingdom come.

Why oh why do we complicate what Jesus clearly showed us?

Inviting children to come.
Feeding the hungry.
Freeing the captives.
Touching the untouchables.
Loving the unlovable.
Teaching the thirsty.
Meeting the needs.

God reminded me we can all be as Jesus was when we remember to love one another.

His love was the conduit for kingdom come. 

His love was the key to releasing His power.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:30-31

Its no accident that Mark recorded Jesus’ words about love.

We are marked by His love.
And that love is to be evident to those around us.

When we love one another with His heart, His kingdom come.
He is here.
With us.

You and I? We are an important part of God’s plan to bring His kingdom down to earth.

All we need is Love!


there can only be One

There can only be One.

We may think that there are more, we may even deceive ourselves that we are it.

But what the world screams the loudest is usually fueled by the enemy, the one who tries to counterfeit the Original, isn’t it?

At the center of humanity’s inability to get along is the lie that we know best. That we are capable of knowing what is best for other people, how they should live, whether they should have a certain job or not, whether they should be a part of the in group or left to the outskirts.

In these ways, and so many more, we judge one another.

But not only do we judge one another on what we think is best for each other, we judge them on what they have done wrong, as if we have never failed or sinned ourselves.

Humanity was never designed to be its own judge.

That role belongs to the Only One who is capable of administering it.

The Only One who has not fallen or sinned or made an error of any kind.

The Only One who was, and is, and ever will be the best for that position.

The Only One who is perfectly suited to judge, because He is perfect.

And He created the system of right and wrong, simply through being Himself.

Not only is He perfect, He is loving, kind, merciful…and eternal.

He is beyond time, this Judge, and so is not swayed by the urgency we have to resolved things in the here and right now.

He is also patient, and with the best purpose behind being so…

God does not want any to perish, and as such, has postponed His judgment until Jesus returns, because Jesus paid the price which allows God to pass over us until that time to come arrives.

When we try to judge one another, we hurt Him.

When we refuse to forgive, and lay down our offenses, we hurt ourselves, the Ones He loves, and muddle up our relationships with those He loves.

And when we judge, withhold forgiveness and hurt those around us?

We join Pilate on the Judgment seat.

We were never meant to judge one another.  God allowed the Israelites to have kings, and governments, full well knowing that it would entangle humanity  into the judgment debate…where before it had only been God’s way, with God as judge.  He knew the enemy wanted this, to turn us against one another.

But God wasn’t surprised, not unprepared for the cost to come to restore proper balance.

Here’s the clincher.

There is Only One judge.


I am not talking about someone judging your work to be substandard because you didn’t put in your best effort kind of judgment here.

I am talking judging over those He created, judging their hearts, their decisions and motives.

Just as Jet Li had to battle his evil duplicate in the classic sci-fi movie “The One”, we have to wrestle down the enemy duplicate of who we are meant to be.

God made each of us uniquely,. and we reflect Him in our only One-ness.

It is time to kick the fake you image the enemy is prompting your flesh to put on back to the pit where it was made for.

In order to  be His hands to the world, our focus is to leave His fingerprints behind, no one else’s.

That means when you are tempted to judge someone over their situation, you ask God how to pray and love up on them instead.

This means we take a good hard long look in the mirrored windows of our own homes before throwing stones at the glass houses of others.

It means we deal with our hearts, decisions and motives on our knees before the Only One qualified to judge us, versus placing blame and deflecting through our judgment.

I soooo get this isn’t a nice soft word today…the mirror in front of me is screaming for me to get clean again.

I am so thankful I can ask Jesus to clean me and make me anew every evening, and every morning, because of what He did for us all on the cross, because He alone has the power to resurrect the dead & restore the broken, and Only he was ever meant to judge us.

I am so thankful His grip will not let go of me, until less of me and more of He is what the world will see.


be kind

There are many kinds of people out there in this world.

Not all of them are kind.

You too may have brushed up against one, have one in your family, or work with one.

Sometimes they don’t know any better, because they have not been shown much kindness in their lives.

Sometimes they know they are being unkind, and they don’t care about the explosive hurt they hurl at those they come across.

What are you & I to do when someone we know, or meet, is unkind to us?

Be kind.

Hurt people do hurtful things, and hurl hurtful words.

That is their choice.

Our choice is to show them the better way. To walk in the kindness of Jesus, and be kind.

For our actions reflect our choices, not those of others when we remain in control of our emotions & decisions.

“Why should I be kind?” my daughter asked me years ago when she had been picked on at school.

I told her, “You being kind lets people know who you are. Do you want to be known as mean, or kind?”

Today, she is one of the kindness women I know. Kids flock to her because they can sense her genuine kindness and care for them. Her path has not been easy, but she has always responded with kindness to the obstacles she has faced.

Because she too knows the One who is the most kind, who helps us show kindness in the face of opposition.

The One who was so kind, He chose to take everyone’s sins on the cross, even those of His enemies.


The One who went to the cross because of His great love for us all.

The One who offers this love at all times to all people, always.

Such kindness the world had never quite experienced before the cross, not since.

We don’t end up where we were headed because of His kindness.

We were headed for the pit,
now we get to sit at His banquet!

Beloved of God.

I would say that is the beat example of kindness I could imagine. Showing love & care to all, regardless of their response.

If God could show such radical kindness to the whole world, I believe He can help us be kind to the people we come across each day….we only need ask for His help to see them as He does- those desperate for a kind & loving God.

Is it easy to be kind?
Not always.
Some times it is a sacrifice of obedience, showing kindness to someone whose words or actions cause our stomachs to roll or our teeth to clench.

But knowing Jesus, the kindest man I have ever met. The One who doesn’t hold my mistakes against me and always gives me a second Chance when I genuinely ask for one?

How could I not share the kindness He has shown me?

confetti toss


What can you do when you feel low, blah, deflated?

Fight it with one of His secret weapons.

How about if the person you are with is feeling the same way?

Throw kindness like confetti!

I am sure you are saying to yourself, “Okay now, she’s losing it!” or “Just hold on now, that sounds a little crazy!”

And it is.

But I won’t apologize for it.

When we liberally slather kindness on those around us, it seeps into the cracks around peoples hearts, soothes the blisters of their wounds, coats their soul with a warm embrace, and before they know it, it is everywhere.

Confetti is known for being found days, weeks, months later…which is why many have discarded this practice in terms of more favorable rice or doves being released to celebrate at a wedding.

I believe God is best seen when we toss kindness like confetti.

Kindness isn’t always convenient, or practical, but oh how we need more of it in our world, our lives, our hearts.

Kindness is a balm to our spirits, reminding us we are cared for.

One small kind act can have a ripple effect leading beyond our imaginations.

The teacher who tells the struggling student to keep on writing.

The parent who gets us at the crack of dawn to drive their child where they need to go.

The boss who ends the review with the best of their positive feedback.

The one who puts a buck in the outstretched hand.

Randomly giving coffee gift cards away at the mall or bus depot.

Receiving kindness like that catches our attention.

Kindness reminds us of the One who is Kind.

Our showing kindness to one another warms His heart, for we are expressing true value to one another as we do.

We are all special to Him, and He lavishly shows us this, day in and day out.

He doesn’t give us the rewards we deserve, but the best ones He has in store for us.

In need of a pick me up?

Look up for His smile.

Then pass it on.

It doesn’t matter whether the person you are being kind to knows you or not.

God knows them, and longs for them to see His loving kindness for themselves.

When we become His hands, feet, smile and helps to one another, He is being seen.

There may not be an earthly price tag attached to kindness, but there is an eternal one.

Love, and kindness, last forever.

I want to be known as one who tosses kindness like confetti at a wedding, with exuberant joy as i celebrate the kindness my God has show me.

I heard Graham Cooke say many years ago as he shared his testimony how God is the kindest person he knows.

I too have found that to be true.

His kindness tints every loving action He showers my way in the confetti swirl of His Presence!

cry of the broken

You hear the cry of the broken,
You hear the cry of the broken,
You hear the cry of the broken…

You answer the cry of the broken,
You answer the cry of the broken,
You answer the cry of the broken…

Darlene Zschech,
Your Name/Cry of the Broken

Feeling broken?
These past few days I have.
But not broken as in I feel like I am shattered beyond repair kind of broken.

Broken by Him, for Him.

I know God is close to the broken, for I was one puzzle pile of mess when He picked me up out of the pit I had dug myself into, cleaned me up & called me Beloved.

God is close to all those of us who desperately need Him to put us back together.

Jesus became God with us to show us all how broken we are without Him.

But there is another kind of broken I am referring to.

Being broken for His purposes.

I recently heard about a course being offered at my former university. Like many of you, I did not complete my degree. I began my family, hubby lost his job & we had to relocate all within a brief period of time.

Now I love learning, so it made sense to try and go back when I was able about 6 years ago. I took two courses and loved it.

Then hubby hurt his back, had the first of two surgeries, i switched jobs, and child number one started university.

Child number two has recently decided to work next year and take some time to figure out which of two paths to take ahead.

Back to the course I found…It is a dream course for me, and hubby gave me his blessing to audit it, and I got the days booked off to take it.

So off to the university I went yesterday to apply. I met with the admissions counselor, and because this course falls within course requirements for a different program than I was in when I was there before, I grew excited about the possibility of finishing my degree as we chatted.

Then I saw the program outline, and my heart sank. I would need to add another year to do so, and the cost when I already have one at university? A mild panic and huge disappointment simultaneously rose within me.

And then God whispered to me:
You don’t need to finish this degree. I have qualified you to do what I have called you to accomplish, and I am using you. You don’t have to look back with regret anymore. I am enough.

My heart broke at the kindness and love in those words….

And I realized that I had been disqualifying myself because I didn’t feel I had the right background or qualifications to do what I am already doing.

When He revealed that reality to me, my soul in its brokenness was set free from the lie I have been believing.

God broke it off in one sentence.

I feel broken but in a good way.
Moldable, use able, despite my flaws.

God is shining through the cracks of this vessel as I continue to become more aware of how He can use me when I am broken of myself and seeking to be used however He chooses.

Broken in God’s hands can become something beautiful.

caught in the headlights

The other day, someone was speaking highly about a skill I have while I was in the room, and I felt uncomfortable.

I felt awkwardly caught in the headlights!

The issue wasn’t that I had overheard, because the person knew I was there.

The real issue?

I am not used to praise and compliments, especially in public.

I had a normal upbringing, but as I entertained myself pretty well (as readers and kids on bikes tend to do) I didn’t tend to be on my parents’ radar much unless i did something wrong.  Which, like any normal kid does, I did.

Both my parents were raised with the same style of parenting. Other than I love you’s, there wasn’t much verbal encouragement unless it was related to grades, again very normal for that generation, and NOT a negative reflection on my parents. Just an observation.

The result in my mind?  When I did get called on my behaviour, it felt like being in the principal’s office waiting for the chastisement to begin. Which is now sort of funny, because as a singer and musician, I am used to being seen…. but I am not a head right for the spotlight kinda gal

As a result, I have had a hard time with criticism, as I didn’t often get its counterpart of encouragement. If you offer it publicly, I used to be even worse accepting it. Occasionally even full blown panic attacks. If it was written down, not so bad, as I could digest it in private.

I did have a few teachers who tried to build me up, but to a kid who doesn’t get a lot of attention unless its negative (again, my perception) I didn’t really know what to do with it.

Into the locker of my brain it went.

As a young adult, I grew a hard skin to compensate, until I ran head first right into His embrace.

God’s words bypassed my hardened shell and shot into my heart, so I was able to receive the words of love and hope He had for me, and could accept the promise of restoration.

Fast forward to my marriage.
To a man who got no attention unless it was negative.

See the pattern here?

I got some counseling & mentoring over the years, but nothing seemed to come close to this issue.

Three years ago, I started working for my first really encouraging boss. On a regular basis, this person tries to speak encouragement to keep using your gifts, his appreciation for the hard work we do, and general blessing. A year later, I began working for another boss, who has a similar thankful & encouraging style.
More encouragement started being spoken to me on a regular basis, but usually on a small scale.
Last year, I added a few more freelance bosses as i began to run my own small business, and each of them has also been a blessing, and express gratitude.

I am very grateful to God for the blessing it is to have such great people to work for and with. It has taken almost 3 years for me to accept verbal kind words my direction.

Then the worst thing (in my imagination) happened to me just over a month ago.

I was sitting in a prophetic service (which I am fine with, btw!) where the pastor began publicly sharing the words He was sharing through him.

All of a sudden my heart started racing, and I clearly heard “He is going to speak to you next.”

I am so thankful God gave me the heads up, because if He hadn’t I would have missed what was said in my shock at being singled out.
Coz the word was so encouraging.

And God knew I needed to hear it out loud, in front of witnesses.

Because not only did it answer a question I had, but it released something in the heavenlies.
I don’t need to be afraid any longer of every word I am about to hear being a negative one.

God has been using others and His word to remind me I do have good characteristics & skills, which has helped me become more balanced in my own thinking about myself.

I still need correction, as we all do. Now, I can take it as a part of the picture, instead of perceiving every thing to be a mountain out of a molehill. And I am getting used to it coming out in ways I cannot always expect.

I have learned I don’t want to limit how God wants to encourage or bless me, and as I trust Him more, He reassures my heart as to who i am to Him.

And the fear begins to ebb, and I can take in what He wants me to hear and learn.

So no more awkward deer or moose caught in the headlights for me, at least after the initial few seconds any ways!

when you are far from Home: 3 tips to help you through

Like Mary, Joseph & Jesus, you too may feel far from home…. in a strange city, foreign country or in an awkward family gathering.

You too may be longing for the familiar surroundings or faces you are missing.

If you too feel far from home right now, here are a few tips to help you find your way back:

1. Love the ones you’re with:

You are never alone. There is someone around you most of the time- whether family, friend, coworker, barista, boss, server…

If you can’t be at home, make others feel at home around you. Throw out the welcome mat to your kindness.

2. Ask for help:

If you are struggling, speak up. Get help if you can’t cope. The beat thing I ever did when I hit a sudden depression many years ago was make a list of how I was feeling & what I thought was contributing factors, after praying about things. List in hand, I ran it by a wise person I respected to ask if they thought I should talk to my doctor. She said yes.

My doctor read my list, asked me a few questions to clarify, and then told me he would have been in his doctor’s office getting help if he had half a list as long as mine. Six weeks later, I had improved enough to stop taking meds.

You may not need physical help, you may need spiritual or emotional help. Whatever the help you need, find the right resource and ask.
Not asking for help when you need it makes you the main problem.

Don’t miss this step if need be to help make it back home.

3. Remember, home is with you everywhere you go.

You carry home with you everywhere you are. All the good memories? With you!

Tune out the loneliness by taking a trip down Remember Road and reexperience the joy Home brings you.

Have you caught sight that Home is not just a place yet?

Mary & Joseph weren’t the first to bring God home with them at Christmas.

Holy Spirit resides in all who believe. He moves in and begins to make Himself at home.

Home moves outside our walls and within us.

We take Home with us everywhere we go.

As we end this year, and this series, you may be dreaming about when you will get back Home. It may not be about missing a physical place or loved ones. It may go deeper than that.

When you feel far from Home?

A simple prayer invites Him to move in.

God with us.
God within us.


PS. Don’t forget to pray before you act. God will lead you, just as He used angels and a star to bring the Carpenters, the shepherds, and the wise men to Himself. If you need another reminder that He is trustworthy? Reread the Christmas story 😉

how great is Your love?


How great
is Your love
for me, Lord?

If I went
to the unknown depths
of the ocean bottom,
I’d find You there.

If I flew my way
across the universe,
You would welcome me
everywhere I went.

If I hid
under the covers,
in the crowd
or with an alias,
You’d still find me,
because You
never leave me.

If I were on a boat
in the middle of the ocean,
Your love would still
flow my way.

If I were spelunking,
in the darkest of caves,
Your love
would be there
to guide
me home.

I could be standing
in a desert island,
not another living creature
in sight for miles or days,
and the clouds above
would still capture
my attention,
reminding me
the Creator
is always showing
me & His creation
signs of His love…
in the clouds,
in the quiet whispers,
in a baby’s first cry,
in a glistening rainbow,
in a warm embrace,
in a kindness shown,
in an extravagant sunrise or sunset,
in extended grace
displayed on the cross.

Your love, Oh Lord,
reaches to the heavens,
Your faithfulness
stretches to the skies.
Forever & ever
Your love endures.

I find my hope
in Your Presence,
in You alone, God.