It has been a few days since I left Paris and returned to my home in California. In some ways it is wonderful to be home, but in other ways I am sad that my great adventure is over (for now). 

Getting back to reality is always difficult as I am now faced with a mountain of laundry, mail stacked to the ceiling, bills to pay, a dusty house (how does that happen when I’m gone?) and my ever-present “To Do” list that is still sitting on my desk where I left it 5-1/2 weeks ago. Plus, I brought home an extra (not to be disclosed) amount of weight that I have to shed before anything in my closet will fit! 


But there’s something else. 

There is a wonderful freedom that I enjoy when I’m traveling around the world without any immediate responsibility. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a feeling of release.  For a while, I am free from the daily pressures of life, and in that place, I experience God’s presence. It’s a rich and satisfying feeling knowing He is near and there is nothing standing between us.  There is no pressure to perform. There are no deadlines. No one is watching or judging. There are minimal expectations. I can simply BE . . . and in this unencumbered state, I am naturally drawn to Him.

The question I am now asking myself is what changes do I need to make in my life that will allow me to STAY in this place of intimacy and encounter in the midst of my daily responsibilities? Why must I allow the pursuits or entanglements of living (sometimes it feels more like survival) choke out The One who sustains me?  That’s not the way it is supposed to be.

The first and greatest command is to love God with our whole being. But isn’t it rare to find someone who is completely God-centered? Isn’t it more “normal” for people to focus on trying to make life work apart from Him? 


Being fully His; staying connected – these pursuits will be my next adventure – right here at home.
Recently, our church was studying a passage in
Revelation.  Our pastor was inviting us to
experience the throne room of Heaven (as described by John) and familiarizing
us with some of the protocol of Heaven.  Later
I went back and re-visited that section of scripture and meditated a little
more deeply on the scene. 

One of the things that caught my attention was this:

I, John, your brother and
companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in
Jesus, was on the island
of Patmos
because of
the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Rev 1:9

Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean
which, in John’s day, was used by the Romans as a place of exile.
According to John, he was exiled to this isolated location for preaching the
gospel of Christ.
In the natural John was about as “shut-down” as a person can
be. He was a prisoner. He was cut-off from all resources, his support group,
and his liberties as a citizen.  It would
have been perfectly normal for him to experience all the distressing emotions a
person would feel in his circumstances – discouragement, disillusionment, depression,
physical pain, frustration, etc.

But the scripture says that John was in the Spirit.

On the Lord’s
Day I was in the Spirit [rapt in His power], and I heard behind me a
loud voice like a trumpet . . . Rev 1:10

John was in the Spirit. What
does that mean? 
According to the dictionary, John
was cognitively communing, enjoying, fellowshipping, abiding, and dwelling
within God.
Wow. Let that sink in for a
Although John was physically
stuck on an island in exile, in the Spirit he was actively experiencing the
presence of God. His circumstances could not hinder him from accessing the
highest place of Glory.
As the story unfolds, John sees
Jesus in His resurrected, glorified state. 
The Lord introduces himself and tells John to write down the messages He
wants to impart to the seven churches.  After
all the letters are dictated, John is invited to come to Heaven.

After this I looked, and there
before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard
speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show
you what must take place after this.”
Rev 4:1
As I meditated, I realized that John didn’t say, “I can’t,
Lord. I’m a political prisoner. I’m stuck on the island of Patmos.
I have to show up tomorrow for roll-call!”
John HEARD the voice of the Lord and he RESPONDED.  The Lord began to show me that so often in my
life the voice of the Holy Spirit beckons me into the presence of God but sometimes
I can’t hear His voice. When I allow the circumstances of life to shut me down –
when I allow grief, sorrow, separation, difficulties, or fear to drown out the
voice of the Holy Spirit – I limit my ability to hear His voice and respond.

The choice is mine.  Like John, my circumstances do not have the power to limit my life. Thank
God!  I can dwell in the presence of God any time I hear and am willing
to respond to His voice regardless of what is going on in / around me. It is so
encouraging to me that although John was on the island of Patmos,
in the Spirit he was given the climax message of the church concerning the Last
Days and the Second Coming of Christ!
What will God be able to do in me when I am tuned in to His
voice, hear His invitation to come into His presence, and respond?
I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23
I have read this verse countless times before. Although I can’t remember specifically, I want to believe I have at least thought about its meaning at some point along the way.

The truth is, I can’t remember.

How is it possible that I have made it this far along life’s journey without understanding the severity of this warning? 

“Above all else, guard your heart . . .”

Above all else?  That’s pretty strong language. I am certain I have put many, many priorities above guarding my heart. You know, important things like making sure all my files are neatly labled in the same font size, or making absolutely certain there are no expired items in my pantry.


Today I went before the Lord and asked Him about this heart thing. I needed to know why such a high importance was placed on guarding my heart. What is my heart, anyway?  How do I guard it? What does it mean that my heart is the wellspring of life?

It turns out, my heart is key. My heart is the core of who I am. It is the source of my love, my creativity, my strength, my convictions, my personality, and my beliefs. My heart is ME – the wellspring of my life; the essence of my existence. My heart is “command central”. It is vital. No wonder the scripture urges me to guard it with vigilance.

Well that explains a lot.

When my heart (the core of who I am) becomes infected, contaminated, injured, broken, deceived, damaged, or worse – destroyed – I cease to be ME. And since I am created in God’s image, I cease to be a reflection of God’s own heart. It is tragic. Hence, the warning.

Jesus put it this way, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’. ” Mark 7:21-23.

He could have gone on to add depression, insecurity, fear, shame, rejection, resentment, abandonment, and anxiety to the list. Because let’s be honest, aren’t those evils so often found in our un-guarded hearts as well?

On the other hand, good things (treasures) come from the heart too: Love, hope, truth, confidence, compassion,  dreams, talents, values and potential. No wonder Solomon says the heart is the wellspring of life – it is the place from which the essence of my life flows. Good or bad, success or failure – it all comes from what is going on inside.

It is apparent I have a lot of work to do. Realizing I must vigilantly guard my heart is only the first step. The next step is uprooting all the harmful lies I have allowed to be planted in my heart. Lies about myself, lies about God, lies about my past, present and future.

A divine cleansing. Reclaiming my heart. Actively replacing all the negative with the truth of God’s Word. Embracing His love for me and allowing it to take root in my heart. Walking in it. Living it. Experiencing it every day.

It’s do-able. And I’m starting now.


Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name. Psalm 100:4
God delights in our worship. He responds to our thanksgiving and expressions of gratitude. It’s so important for us to incorporate the daily habit of worshiping the Father throughout the day.  

There are choirs in Heaven made up of angels and the redeemed who are continually before God’s throne singing songs of praise and shouting declarations of His Glory.

Can you imagine the sound? Voices lifted up in unison glorifying His Name in spirit and in truth? I bet it rocks the house down!

But today I realized that MY praise and thanksgiving is distinctly audible to Him.

Wow! That is a sobering thought.

I am not lost in the crowd. My worship counts and it delights the Father. My gratitude connects us in a way that goes deep. He is near and I experience His blessing.   

It’s so simple and the benefits are so great. Why do I make it so hard? Why do I allow the distractions of this life to keep me from something that is so rewarding? 

Worship can happen in a moment; in an instant. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple acknowledgment of His greatness when we see a beautiful sunset. A “thank you, Lord” when we receive an unexpected blessing or when the Holy Spirit whispers direction in a time of need.  We can stop, just for a moment, and tell Him He’s awesome. We can thank Him for His Goodness. We can acknowledge His Lordship over all creation. And we can tell Him there is none like Him, He has no equal, no competition for our love and hearts.

John 4:23 – Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

“Father, help me to always be the kind of worshiper You seek.”

“Let go.”
I don’t even like the sound of those words.
“Let go, H.”
I grip tighter.  Maybe if I re-group, re-evaluate. There must be a way to make this work. What am I missing?
Romans 8: 32 – He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son, but gave Him up for us all ~ will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?

In my previous post I shared that I am growing in the understanding that by failing to walk in constant communion with God (in every moment, in every situation), I am choosing to rely on my own ability, my own wisdom, my own insight, and my own strength to live. As I have struggled to give up my independence, I am beginning to realize that when I am connected to the Creator of the Universe I don’t need anything else!  In those times when I feel lack, it is because I am not connecting with God at a deep level.  That’s when I feel anxious and my mind takes control.  I think and plan and worry and stew.  I am determined to make things go MY way. I pour all my resources into finding a way to make it work.
Heaven help me! I forget that He is in charge of my life.  He has the answer.  He is the solution.  I am only required to do two things:
1) Let go. Refuse to worry about anything.
2) Switch my focus from the problem to His Presence.
It sounds so simple but it is so hard (at least for me, it is). It is a constant discipline which I have yet to master. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit continues to invite me to come; and when I do, I am never disappointed. To the degree that I submit, I am filled.

2 Corinthians 4:18 – So we fix our eyes ~ not on what is seen ~ but on what is UNSEEN, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

In my continuing quest to meet God right here, right now, I have been struggling with laying every thing else aside and focusing on Him.  One of the roadblocks is my To Do List.  (Ah, yes . . . the perpetual To Do List.)  It’s that running list I keep in my head at all times of all the things I need to do to gain control of my life.  The idea is that if I can just cross everything off my list, I will find peace and be able to relax.

The problem is that I never seem to get ahead of my list! No sooner do I make some headway, when a whole new batch of things crop up that need attention.  I try harder. Run faster. Work later. There is just no time to meet God NOW and take advantage of my access to His presence.

Isn’t that crazy?

If I made time for His presence, He would help me sort out what is important. He would give me the strength I need to face the challenges in my life. He would make me more efficient and effective.  Even my failures would be recycled into something good! In His presence I would find the peace I am trying so hard to achieve in my To Do List.

Going back to my previous post . . . I am trying to give up my self-sufficiency and embrace unashamed dependence on Him.  It’s difficult, but I’m working on it.

I was reading a daily devotional recently and the writer was making the point that, “the PRESENT is where God always awaits you.”  For some reason those words ~ and that realization ~ struck me.  I haven’t been able to get the idea out of my head.

I decided to dig a little deeper.

What is becoming a revelation to me is that I am meant to live in the present. Right here, right now.  Most people (myself included) let their moments slip through their fingers, half-lived.  They avoid the present (either consciously or unconsciously) by worrying about the future or longing for / regretting the past.  Unfortunately by avoiding the present and failing to meet God NOW, we do not take advantage of our access to His glorious presence and all that that entails.

Why is that so important?

I know I am only beginning to scratch the surface of understanding in this area but what is becoming clear to me is that by failing to walk in constant communion with God (in every moment, in every situation), I am choosing to rely on my own ability, my own wisdom, my own insight, and my own strength to live.  Heaven help me!

This was never God’s design.  Since the garden we were created to be intimately connected to Him.  God wants us to give up our self-sufficiency and embrace unashamed dependence on Him knowing that His power is made perfect in our weakness.  He wants us to seek Him for the answers we need to even the simplest questions; He wants to be our Source; He wants to guide and direct our decisions and choices; He wants to equip us and train us to maturity; He wants to supply what we need when we need it.

It sounds wonderful.  The hard part is yielding my stubborn will to utter dependence on Him.  I want to voluntarily learn the discipline of meeting Him in the present and learning to see everything from His perspective.   I don’t think I know how to actively, consistently do this . . . but I am on a quest to find out.
One of the first and most important truths we should know about choices is that we all GET to make them.

The freedom to make choices for ourselves is a God-given right and He is extremely committed to that right. God is the ONLY being in all of creation who could justifiably CONTROL our decisions, and yet He refrains from doing so. He has carefully and clearly laid out a path for us to follow which will lead to blessing. And He has repeatedly warned of the path that leads to destruction. But in the end, He gives us absolute freedom to choose which path we will walk and He weeps when our choices lead to ruin. God places such a high premium on our freedom that He even shies away from forcing us to do things that would benefit us! He understands that we will never learn to love or respond to Him without that costly freedom.

Awareness of our power to choose and our responsibility for the outcome is the first step in understanding choices, decisions and discipline.
Sometimes a thought gets stuck in my head and I can’t shake it. It pops up at random times for no apparent reason at all. It starts as a miscellaneous thought and then begins to develop into an “understanding”. That’s when I know the Holy Spirit wants to teach me something. I love these moments of revelation because they remind me that He is real, He is present, and He is very interested in me and my spiritual growth.

So what happened was . . .

About two months ago, I began to think a lot about CHOICES. It all started in the area of healthy diet and exercise. (I guess I was focusing on making better food choices.) One day in my prayer time I asked the Father if He had any thoughts on the subject and if so, would He please give me some insight.

Note to Self: Don’t ever ask the Creator of the Universe if He has any thoughts on any subject unless you are prepared for an avalanche! Oh my goodness! (I thought He might say something simple like “lay off the soda”. I wasn’t prepared for an entire life lesson. Geez!)

Thoughts and insight began to come. All of a sudden I became keenly aware of my choices. I started to realize with deeper understanding how my choices impact my life (and my eternity). And I became more aware of God’s participation (or lack of) in my choices. He also began to teach me more about DECISIONS and DISCIPLINE. For the past two months I have been trying to take notes as my teacher (the Holy Spirit) has revealed truth to me. He has had to go very s-l-o-w-l-y as my human, stubborn and sinful mind resists the process of renewal. One thing is certain; this is a very important subject to the Lord.

Romans 12:2 (NLT) – Don’t copy the behavior and customs of  this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

I know this lesson is far from completed. In fact, I have only scratched the surface. I am struggling to grasp the higher ways of God and let go of traditional, worldly thinking. It’s not easy, folks! It’s a process.

At any rate, in the next few posts, I will attempt to share some of the insights I have gained. To some readers, this stuff may be “old news”. To others, perhaps this will be a good “refresher”. Or to still others, maybe you will experience a few “ah-ha” moments. Either way I would love to hear your thoughts along the way.

More to come,

NEGLIGENT:  failing to exercise the care of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances.

Three years ago today, my daddy went in to Las Palmas Hospital in El Paso, Texas for surgery. Because of the negligent, deplorable action of one nurse, he never made it home.


I will admit it is very, VERY, difficult to swallow the pain that chokes me as I remember the 10 weeks following daddy’s surgery that changed our lives forever. It’s still so fresh. It is so hard to look back on events and not wish for a “do-over”.  Why didn’t we choose a different hospital?  Why didn’t I take daddy to Chicago or L.A. instead?  Why did we leave daddy alone that afternoon and go get lunch?  If only, if only, if only . . .


Now, three years later, I must reconcile one fact.  Sometimes there are no “do-overs”. Only lessons.
Upon reflection, here are a few things I have learned:
   I have gained a greater and deeper compassion for others who have suffered an “unfair” loss.  Before Las Palmas Hospital, I could not in my wildest imagination fathom the depth of someone’s pain at losing a loved one because of a care-giver’s fatal mistake.
   I have stood before God – sometimes strong, sometimes weak – and learned to trust Him regardless of the pain, anger and disappointment I sometimes feel.  I trust that He loves me. I trust that He is the God Who Sees.  I trust that He will restore.
    I have learned what a great and precious gift “hope” is.  The hope of His return.  The hope of His promise. The hope of being united together with Christ in glory forever.
   I have learned that I am not alone. Jesus understands my pain. Remember, He’s the One whose sweat became like drops of blood in the agony of the cross.  If anybody undertands trauma, He does. Completely.


Well, these are all good lessons . . . no, great lessons.  I just wish I didn’t have to learn them the hard way.