The process

Everyone loves the product but not the process! After last weeks devo about the Jesus Jar, several people I talked to really liked the idea. I think mine turned out really cute. It turned out way more terrarium, diorama than I envisioned but I like it. I dug through all my craft drawers and found things that represented stuff I need to just lay at the feet of Jesus. It was very therapeutic.

Part of the process

The product:

Some observations:

I love the product, the process was UGLY! I’ve been having a little work done around my house, I love the product the process is dragging on driving me INSANE. The outside work keeps having rain delays. I bought some super cute industrial shelves off of Etsy for my laundry room reno, they went up May 4, fell down May 16th, but were re-installed on the 18th. I’ve always come up with these hairbrained, cockamamie ideas, but lived with an engineer for 30 years who always made them work, he never complained, he just made them work. He was so good at it that I had no idea how crazy these ideas were! Now I’m driving this sweet handyman insane with my crazy ideas. I fear he will not stick around as long as the engineer did, or I may be the death of him too (yikes!).

From conception to process to finished product seems like forever! We live in an Instant Pot, Microwave world. It amazes me that we even have the patience to grow anything from seed these days. I remember having babies and thinking they will NEVER sleep through the night, (in my defense I had one that didn’t until 5th grade, or maybe that’s just when I quit caring due to shear exhaustion), you think they’ll never talk, then you think they’ll never shut up (I had one not talking at 18 months, got tubes in his ears and has literally never shut up!), you can’t wait for them to walk then long for the days they were strapped in a bucket and it goes on and on. We lack the ability to live in the moment and appreciate the now and I got no real remedy for that! Well maybe just the awareness that comes with age — it all flies by so fast — even if it’s awful, just know this too shall pass!

The thing about it is … no matter how good or bad we are at making choices – life is HARD!!! But it really is impossible to find joy in the hard. Faith is a huge part of it. God really is good all the time and when we are in the process we can still look up from the muck and see that he is and know the sun will come out, maybe not tomorrow, but it will come back, and you will too, because we are a work in progress. Only in the process will I ever make progress.

Prayer according to the PSV

We had a long discussion about prayer in Old Lady Bible Study (OLBS) this weekend. I wanted to share some of our conversation because I think prayer is one of the most confusing topics of the Christian Faith. I already thought about deleting this and starting over, but decided it may strike a chord with someone or just be a great reminder.

The conversation started with, “Do our prayers change God’s mind?” “Is it prayer that determines who lives or dies from COVID or cancer or stroke or accident?” “Did this bad thing happen because I didn’t pray enough or right or long enough or I lack faith?” Here are a few things we talked about that this Jesus fellow teaches us about prayer:

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. and whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Mark 11:22-24 ESV

There is not follow up in scripture or history that someone heard him say this and ran out to see if they said to a mountain jump in the sea and it did. That might not be the point! BUT it’s directly followed up with ask anything in prayer and believe you have received it, and while you’re at it forgive those who have wronged you. So just as no one asked God to hurl a mountain into the ocean, because he’s not about tricks and shows, otherwise he’d be like a genie in a bottle and we’d all win the lottery, He is about fellowship, relationship and kinship. When I pray “Help me pick the right lottery numbers.” He’s all like, “Nah, I think it would be better if someone gave you an HEB gift card the day you didn’t think you could pay for groceries.” Your needs are still met, but your flesh is not satisfied, you can’t be tempted to take the credit. The whole lottery thing might have had a wee bit of laziness and greed involved. But I can pray that I would be able to forgive someone who does not deserve forgiveness and believe that I have received the power to forgive because I know forgiveness comes, not from me, but from him.

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Luke 22:41-42 ESV

Don’t you think if anyone could have ever changed God’s mind it would have been Jesus? That idea that He is about fellowship, relationship and kinship requires something of me. Our prayers, like his are honest and heartfelt. I plead, “really God, this family has suffered enough, could you not just give them a break?” But God doesn’t have a formula that if you can get 60 people in the next 60 seconds, I’ll ease up on them a bit. I cry out for those in hardship and He hears me and they feel his presence and we begin to see his hand in their lives and I get some crazy idea that I should do something and it’s a blessing to them, and if that’s not answered prayer I don’t know what is! It is a lot like curbside grocery pick up. I can get online and order whatever I want, but unless I pay the bill and drive there to get it, we ain’t got no groceries! I love Chris Tomlin’s song God Who Listens says: “I’m not just hoping, I’m not just wishing, I know I’m praying to a God who listens.” It always cracks me up when Facebook pops up and tells me it’s someone’s birthday and I might want to send them good thoughts. What’s the postage on good thoughts? Do they go in a box or an envelope? Does anyone have a clue those thoughts were sent? It’s our actions that impact them, a note, a call, a text, and through prayer, I’m prompted to reach out and love on them. It is not the thought that counts!

The thing about it is … I tend to ramble BUT when we pray, it changes us. Our prayers open communication with God and help us see that whatever the outcome, He is in it with us. I do not have the power to change anything, I am not going to impact God’s plan, rather He has the power to change me, He can use me in his plan. Or I can flounder, wondering how in the world I’m going to survive this. When sickness, death, hardship, and suffering come and they will, it’s a storm we can weather by drawing closer to our creator to make sense of the chaos. He knows the desires of our heart, he knows we are going to plead for a positive outcome and in our pleading we find comfort knowing we aren’t in control. But we can trust in the one who does have the power.

I got no words!

I went to bed completely discouraged Monday night cuz I just had no words for a Tuesday Devo. I sat down one last time to come up with something before I went to bed and I had nothing. I flipped over to Facebook and saw an Urgent Prayer Request for a dad at our school with COVID. I added him to the prayer list went to bed praying and feeling defeated. Then came Tuesday and the first thing I read was a blog about Becoming Small in the Lives of Adult Children. by Ever Thine Home. Her point was, if we are so large in our adults kids lives why do they need a Savior? Sometimes we aren’t supposed to have any words. Sometimes we need to just shut up and give it to God. I’m not good at knowing when to shut up. Their is a constant need to fill the space with noise I woke up with two thoughts:

1I have a friend who has several teenagers that are really struggling with some hard issues. She told me that she has made a physical Jesus Jar and when she gets the crisis call or text from one of them, she writes it on a sticky note and gives it straight to Jesus. I need a Jesus Jar, I’m making one today!!!

2My journey to quiet has been a difficult one. I’ve lived many years with people who like noise. The boys have some noise on ALL the time. They listen to podcasts, they listen to books, they have the TV on for background noise at home and the radio on in the car all the time. Then one of them died, then one of them moved out, then another and it was QUIET. I thought I needed to hate the quiet. I thought I needed to fill the quiet. But I discovered I like the quiet. It didn’t come natural. I had to learn to be comfortable with my own thoughts. I started looking at memes about “shutting up” but that got dark real fast Then I thought less is more and finally realized the concept I was trying to convey is … be still! Jesus doesn’t tell us to SHUT UP because darkness isn’t in him, he tells us to “be still” and in being still we know. And that takes intentionality if we’re just still we tend to drift. I can’t just stop or just shut up or even just be still. I have to listen, study, read intentionally choose my words wisely and speak with wisdom.

“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, 
people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. 
We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; 
we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; 
we drift toward superstition and call it faith. 
We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; 
we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; 
we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” 
D.A. Carson

The thing about it is… it’s in trying to fill the space that I mess it up. The world tells us to shut up, no one cares, less is more, quality over quantity. But Psalms tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” The PSV version would read, “Shut up, get out of the way, why do you think you can fix it all.” But my version is warped, it gives me responsibility for all that goes wrong and credit for what goes right and I don’t deserve either. I’m learning quiet is okay, I really do need to be still and let God be God and use me where he sees fit. I got no words, and that’s a good thing if the quiet is leading me closer to him who gives me the words I need when I need them! I pray these words encourage you in some way today.

No dogs were harmed in the writing of this post!

Recently both of my boys called me sounding like their dog had just died. I love that we have the kind of relationship that I’m the one they call when life is hard, But it’s also H.A.R.D. on a momma. We want so much for our children. It’s hard to wrap your mind around how much you love these beings and it never changes.

I can be their cheerleader, although that’s the last thing I ever would have thought myself good at. I occasionally have some words of wisdom, I’ve always told them, “No matter how stupid you may think I am, I have learned a thing or two having existed this long on the planet.” But I can’t be their savior. I make a terrible Jesus. NO ONE should EVER follow me! I can’t make them make wise choices. Nor can a measure my worth on their success or failure, for they will both succeed and fail and both are crucial to their development.

But its hard to watch. I remember begrudgingly studying the Israelites after they are rescued by Moses from captivity. It’s so frustrating how they whine and complain, how they forget about God’s provision five seconds after it’s gone, how they witness first hand the glory of God, then turn around and grumble about how hard the have it. They even long to go back to captivity because at least the food was good there! They are so frustrating! They are so me! I do the very same thing! I have seen first hand God’s provision in my life over and over again. I know that he works all things together for good. I know that it’s in our trials we experience our greatest growth. But still in the moment of crisis, I panic, I question, I doubt and self pity sets in. OH MY GOSH! I AM JUST LIKE THOSE STINKING ISRAELITES.

But the hope lies in the fact that while I struggle and while I am too dense to remember the rainbow follows the storm, God is unchanged. He doesn’t get tired of my short term memory. He doesn’t get tired of my inability to learn from the past. He doesn’t give up on me and that gives me the strength to get through the days when the crisis roll in like ocean waves. In the midst of hard times it seems like its forever. I remember raising babies and thinking they will never sleep through the night, never be potty trained, never not have to suffer through spelling tests, the hard things always seemed like forever. Until they weren’t. Until REALLY hard things came next.

Save me, O God!
    For the waters have come up to my neck.
 I sink in deep mire,
    where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
    and the flood sweeps over me.
 I am weary with my crying out;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
    with waiting for my God.

 More in number than the hairs of my head
    are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
    those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
    must I now restore?
 O God, you know my folly;
    the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

 Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
    O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
    O God of Israel.
 For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
    that dishonor has covered my face.
 I have become a stranger to my brothers,
    an alien to my mother's sons.

 For zeal for your house has consumed me,
    and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
When I wept and humbled[b] my soul with fasting,
    it became my reproach.
 When I made sackcloth my clothing,
    I became a byword to them.
 I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
    and the drunkards make songs about me.

Psalm 69:1-12

The thing about it is… God is Good – all the time. Sometimes my vision is clouded and life is stinking hard, but God is Good. And while it may seem cliché even on the days the tone of voice on the phone is wretched with crisis and heart ache, God is Good. I must focus more on Psalm 69:13-15 :

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
    At an acceptable time, O God,
    in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
Deliver me
    from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
    and from the deep waters.
Let not the flood sweep over me,
    or the deep swallow me up,
    or the pit close its mouth over me.

May the Fourth be with you

I suppose many of us can trace our life events around the Star Wars movies. Interestingly, Star Wars day was purely a fan thing, it had nothing to do with George Lucas or the film studio. The phrase “May the Fourth be with you” was first used in an article published in The London Evening News back in 1979 and the date was, you guessed it, May 4. This was the day when Margaret Thatcher first took office as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It was supposed to be a congratulatory advertisement by her political party and it read, “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations.” It wasn’t until 2012 when Disney bought Star Wars that it became a shameless marketing ploy.

While I was typing this post – one of those little boys posted this on Facebook!

I have such fond memories of preschool boys playing with Star Wars figures will the movies played in the background over and over again until we all had them memorized. Thanks to Dyslexia, for years past their toddlerhood, I read to them Star Wars series. I still have the complete Jedi Apprentice Series, Jedi Quest Series, Boba Fett Series and Young Jedi Knights Series. I’m not exaggerating, my boys loved Star Wars, all three of them.

Around 2003 Russell taught a LONG Sunday School Series to middle school boys paralleling Stars Wars to the gospel. For a couple of years they dissected the characters in the movies and searched to see who they represented in the gospels. He kept that group of boys captivated for a long time.

My Star Wars Timeline:

  • 1977 – Star Wars : Episode IV – A New Hope releases to an unsuspecting world. I was 14 when the movie released and my Uncle Joe drug us girls to see it. I had no idea the impact this little space story would have on my life.

  • 1980 – A boy who held my hand took me to see The Empire Strikes Back. I would have watched anything with that boy!

  • 1983 – That same boy is excited about Return of the Jedi, I happily go along.

  • 1999 – We have a three year old little boy who falls in love with Star Wars with the release of Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.

  • 2002 – We have a new three year old and six year old that are super excited about the release of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

  • 2005 – The boys are in First Grade and Fourth Grade and while we never miss school, we leave early on May 19th to see Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith at a theater in Pflugerville because it was the closest theater selling advance tickets for the first showing. Dad was out of town, but I took the boys. We were introduced to the Sith in a theater filled with men from Dell Computers! We gladly went to see it again when dad got home.

  • 2015 – Ryan is home for his first college break and we go to the midnight showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

  • 2017 – The boy that held my hand has been dead for 462 days, but our boys who are now men take me to the midnight showing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

  • 2019 – Our boys are now men but still they go with me to the midnight showing of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Dad now gone 1197 days, life and the legacy continue.

The thing about it is… It’s not just a movie, it’s been a big part of life for forty four years, and thanks to Disney, it will go on. It’s a classic tale of good vs. evil and the powerful impact of our choices. We can still use this timeless story to present the galactic gospel to the Jedi in your life!

Pfysical year

In the corporate world it is common for companies to have a fiscal year that does not coincide with the calendar year. Over the Christmas Break I saw lots of people posting about all these new plans they had for the new year. A new diet, a new read-the-bible-in-a-year plan, an new exercise regiment, etc. Several of those things looked interesting to me but by the time they were all divulging their plans I was left scrambling to catch up feeling very behind the curve and ended up doing none of them. I couldn’t psych myself up to tackle something new in a couple of days.

I’ve decided that I need to have a New Year that doesn’t start on January 1. But will I have a fiscal year or a physical year? Which, of course, sent me to dictionary. Fiscal refers to taxation, public debt, public revenues or finance in general. I certainly don’t want anything to do with those things! Physical on the other hand relates to natural science, material existence or material things. It can also relate to the body, carnal, sexual or forcefully rough behavior. I vote neither of those work for me. Some use the abbreviation BC (before Christ) BY (before Yavin in Star Wars) but mine would have to be BS (before school) that’s probably not a good idea.

So I’m creating my own word PFYSICAL–P because I like it, I’m making it up and it’s my word, FY -meaning to make, SIC – intentionally so written and AL pertaining to, therefore, from here on the word is PFYSICAL – pertaining to being intentional! I am looking forward to beginning my Pfysical year! But when? I thought June 1, but in the educational world May is THE WORST month ever. One year I lost my cell phone in May and found it two years later in a file, in a file drawer. I seem to lose something, I mean in addition to my mind, every May. So I’ve decided The-PSV Pfysical year will begin on July 1st. That gives me the month of June to regroup and make my big plans for the year to come. I will reach my New Year’s Day on July 1 refreshed, revived, ready to conquer the world (theoretically).

The thing about it is. …we need a fresh start. We need to take time to prepare to start fresh, to start over, to reset, regain optimism, perspective, slough off the old. And if I am not intentional about something it is never going to happen! I’m going to start in the back of mind preparing for my pfysical year now so come the big day on July 1st I will be pumped, planned, prepared and primed to start fresh. Let’s get pfyscial!!


I could do a ten year series on things I suck at … but I’ll spare us all that! The thought occurred to me as I read in our study of Mark in Old Lady Bible Study about humility. We were studying Mark 9:33-37, just after Jesus tells the disciples that he will be killed and rise again, their next conversation behind his back is:. “Who do you think will be in charge once he’s gone?” Miss the point much? Jesus goes on to make several illustrations about priorities and how ours just don’t match up to his. So how do we bridge the gap? How do we metamorph ourselves to have the mind of Christ?

The commentary points out that

… the closer we draw to God, the more humble we become. The more we are overwhelmed by His holiness, the more we will be aware of our unholiness–a realization that produces humility.

Engaging God’s Word: Mark

This answers the question: How do I develop the traits I lack? I don’t develop them, they are produced. They are fruits that grow. If I want to grow fruit I have to first plant a tree. I have to care for that tree and provide the right conditions for the tree to produce fruit. But we live in a world where if we want fruit we just go to HEB and get it. We don’t even have to wait for much of the fruit we eat to be in season. We have the means and the opportunity to just reach out and get whatever we crave.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:15-18

My friend Reed says the fruits come in order, they grow from each other. So I can’t decide I want to work on kindness and just skip love, joy, peace and patience. I don’t get to pick the fruits in my life as conveniently as I go to HEB. I can work to grow closer to God and in doing so the spirit will display those fruits in my life. As I focus on his holiness he works to form me into his likeness. I have to keep studying, keep seeking, keep obeying and trust that will be reflected in my life–not some crazy concoction I tried to staple together but fruits that can only be orchestrated by the one who created me, in his image.

Nature abhors a vacuum

One of Russell’s favorite sayings was, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” It was his smart people sciency way of saying if you don’t do it, someone else will. I don’t know about that nature’s vacuum thing, but if it’s anything like that one I have to use to keep the dog hair and paw mud at bay, I have a love/hate relationship with it. I do know that like in most things, he was so right! I studied in Mark last week, 8:32-33 where Peter takes Jesus aside and begins to rebuke him, after just acknowledging a few verses back that he was the Christ. Peter knew that Jesus was the very son of God, yet he thought he had a right to rebuke him. I read this and think “How in the world could he have the audacity to rebuke Jesus?” But Jesus response after referring to him as Satan (ouch!) is “…you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man”. It’s so easy in education for negativity to set in this time of year. We tend to focus too much on those kids who aren’t where we want them to be, we’ll never get everything in we need to, no one is coming back next year, I can’t do this anymore! But somehow it all works out, therefore — I don’t know about you, but I need to go to detox!

I have to remember that I control my brain; it does not control me. It’s tempting to think of the brain as our control center but Paul tells us he have to take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). I get to choose what I think about, what I focus on and nature does abhor a vacuum so if I’m not actively choosing what to think about, I drift to the negative. It’s all horrible, terrible, awful, impossible and despicable. The negative is automatic, it takes effort to overcome. So we must purpose to be intentional overcomers. I have to wake up every morning with my ‘Jack Handy Deep Thoughts’ and claim today as His! Claim the victory that I am assured. Determine to be positive and not sucked in to the default of dread. I have to change my thinking from 28 days to dread to 28 more opportunities to impact the next generation. And that impact goes way beyond the trigonometry, percentages, works cited, digestion or even punctuality. We have less than 28 days to make an impact in their lives this year and then the opportunity is gone. Someone else will step up and fill the void.

The only prisoners you should take today are your own thoughts!

Happily Ever After

The story of Jesus guarantees how your story will end.

Paul David Tripp, Journey to the Cross, Day 33

I have to admit that the last post left me feeling very unsatisfied, but evidently Dr. Tripp felt the same and comes back to the topic today. We looked last time at how our biggest issue is that we are satisfied with that which we should be dissatisfied. Today Dr. Tripp talks about how we will never be satisfied by “temporal human happiness”. It’s unsettling to me that we are guaranteed to be in a place of constant dissatisfaction, yet I know it full well, because I work with students with learning disabilities. ALL my students struggle. EVERY one of them has some obstacle to overcome to survive in school. I’m tempted to feel sorry for them, me, us because it looks like others don’t have these obstacles to fight through to get an education, but then I read on page 191:

There will be chapters in the story that God has written for us that will be very hard. But we must remember two things. First, he has written himself into the story so that he will always be with us, giving us what we could never give to ourselves. Second, what your Lord has written for you is not less than the plot you have written for yourself, but infinitely more.

Paul David Tripp, Journey to the Cross, p 191

I think I want the struggles I face to go away. I wish these kids obstacles to education could be removed. But I forget that these struggles we face are part of our God-authored story. They are what will form us. They are temporary. These kids won’t be in school forever, they do go on to live healthy, productive, even wonderful lives, but more importantly, “God doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your temporary dream; what he guarantees you is forever” (p 190).

So if you find yourself uncomfortable with where you are, or as Dr. Tripp says, dissatisfied, you are right where you are supposed to be! We are supposed to be satisfied with eternity. We are supposed to be dissatisfied with this temporal place. What does a dissatisfied life look like? I think it looks like facing the struggles of today, knowing that there are hard lessons to learn, BUT we know the story has a happy ending and can face each day hopeful!

Pay attention

You can’t repent of what you haven’t confessed, you can’t confess what you haven’t grieved, and you can’t grieve what you haven’t seen.

Paul David Tripp, Journey to the Cross, Day 30

On Day 26 Dr. Tripp talks about how he believes that “satisfaction is a much bigger problem than dissatisfaction” (pg 150) in our lives. I struggle with putting that into perspective with Paul’s words when he says, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). How do we balance this satisfaction with contentment? I started with the dictionary. According to satisfaction comes from meeting expectations, while content means peaceful happiness. Therefore, Dr. Tripp is talking about sin in our lives with which we have become complacent about. We become too comfortable with sin we should be confessing and grieving. But we can’t grieve that which we don’t see. I can’t confess that I’ve hurt your feelings if I’m oblivious to it. I’ll make excuses rather than accept responsibility. But while Dr. Tripp is calling us to be dissatisfied with the sin we refuse to see in ourselves, Paul is calling us to be content with that which we cannot change. Dissatisfaction leads to change, we will not change that which we are satisfied with as that implies that we are done, but I can be content with where I am without being satisfied. I need to be content with my salvation, knowing I am loved by God yet pay attention and be dissatisfied with my sinfulness–see it, grieve, confess it and do better. I can’t sit her content with my sin, because I know it separates me from God. I can’t hate on myself because I am a sinner because I am made in the image of God. Therefore, balance is again the answer. Because I am made in the image of God, my sins are forgiven and I want to honor that image by doing better. I can’t walk away unchanged.

There are several areas in my life I need to be dissatisfied with! I need to see them with eyes anew, grieve them and confess them while being content that I am a child of God sins and all.

What do you think?