From Thorns to Throne


A dear friend, whom Joe discipled, made for us the crown of thorns you see in this picture. I tenderly take it out from storage each Easter. Tenderly, because it is very sharp and very difficult to handle without getting scratched or poked.

Our friend had to use great caution as he weaved this crown because the slightest mis-movement would have been painful.

The crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus didn’t even have to be forced on him for it to be painful.  When I consider the harshness of a crown of thorns it is hard for me to imagine the pain Jesus endured when it was put upon his head as they mockingly said, “And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews!'”

He was mistreated and suffered death for our sins. He endured the pain of the crown of thorns, floggings, and death on a cross. It’s hard to comprehend that He did that to fulfill the Old Testament scripture. It’s hard to comprehend how we continue to sin; thus mocking what He endured for us.

Yet, because of His death, He now triumphs in heaven. Isaiah 66:1, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.'” He reigns. He was victorious.

May you enjoy this Easter week as we prepare to celebrate that HE IS RISEN!



Giving Flowers – A Good Practice or Not Practical?  (Read in <2.5 minutes)

10421231_898232170198652_3857147976533219012_n (1)These flowers were given to my daughter by her boyfriend. Did she love the gesture or tell him never to do that again because it’s not practical and a waste of money? She responded like most women do! She loved it!

Years ago my mom repeatedly said to my dad and us kids, “I’d rather people give me flowers while I’m alive so I know I’m loved and appreciated…not just something sent to a funeral home after my death.” It didn’t matter if it was a dandelion, a fresh bouquet, or an arrangement. She loved flowers and the thought behind it.

Dad, not necessarily a romantic, went to a nearby florist and said to the owner, “Every week I want to send my wife flowers. You choose the arrangement or bouquet and bill me – every week.” This went on for years. Over 25 years if my memory serves me correctly. Mom loved every expression of love through those flowers.

Somewhere along the way, my husband Joe started doing that. I’m not sure of the exact time, but each week, when he does our grocery shopping, he brings me flowers. I never take them for granted. I don’t tell him to stop bringing them because it’s a waste of money. I love the thought, and though we’re not particularly “romantics” I do think it’s very romantic!

Practically speaking, it’s a waste of money to buy flowers that will wither and die and be thrown away; but the practiced gesture is never wasted and lives on in our thoughts and memories. Practically speaking, sometime a single flower is just as special as a huge bouquet. As I consider different scenarios of people I know receiving flowers, I can’t think of one who didn’t appreciate it and love the gesture.

Joe shares, when we speak on the topic of marriage, of a local florist who said that many of his best customers are men who buy flowers every week for years-then vanish forever. The problem: they get married.

Many of the things we practice along life’s way may or may not be practical. It’s just a good reminder, that while we can go through life being practical about money, gifts, time, etc. it’s never a waste of money when we practice things that are enjoyed and appreciated.

Getting my vase ready…….right next to the one my daughter will have ready!



People tend to give us their advice and a piece of their mind even if we don’t ask for it. Whether we ask for advice or counsel or it’s simply given to us without a request, we might do well to follow some guidelines to seek and know if what we’re hearing is wise counsel or not. I’ll share with you some of my guidelines to help you think about what you’d like yours to be:


I’m a Christian, so while many people – Christian or not – have good thoughts and insights, I’d like to be sure there is a biblical foundation to what I’m hearing and that I’m following God’s word. A financial advisor might not be a believer, and be an excellent advisor. In a case like this, I need to have the biblical foundation to discern if they’re advice is good to follow. I want to follow honest (and biblical) principles.


I’d like to know that the person giving me advice is in God’s word daily. This person will (if in the word consistently) and should know truth from lies, being able to recognizing the right next steps and hopefully desiring to lead me in that way. I want someone who won’t compromise God word and who is unafraid to stand firm. I don’t want “off the cuff” advice for it will likely fall on deaf ears. I can heed it but I might not take it! I’d like this someone to be making biblical, smart, savvy, and wise decisions for themselves. If they are living life without consulting God, willfully sinning and saying what they’re doing is Okay, well, that is not one from whom I’ll take advice – ever.


It would mean a lot to me if they were praying daily in general and praying for me regarding this counsel. By them taking the time to do that before giving an answer would be very meaningful to know. I would know that they cared and were invested in the process.


It’s important to me that someone who will invest into my life through what they think is important would also make the effort to walk with me through the more troubling or challenging things of life. The person willing to step into my life (and possibly the mess that there is) makes me realize their sincerity and desire for my good.

I’m sure this entire list isn’t full proof. I’m sure I’ve given advice that I wished I could take back and I’m sure I’ve received advise I should (or shouldn’t) have acted upon. These simply help outline for me the most important things I look for as I hear from others.










It was very time consuming. It was designed, cut out, marked, and sewed with delicate precision and it was a labor of love. It was my daughter’s wedding gown.

While I’ve sewn many projects over the years, including my own wedding gown, making my daughters’ was probably the finest item I’ve ever had the pleasure of creating and sewing. I was meticulous. I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I wanted it to be perfect. I made sure every seam was finished. Each of the 37 button loops fit perfectly over the silk buttons sewn on by hand. Hand stitches on other parts of the dress were so delicate you couldn’t see them.

The inside was constructed as detailed and beautifully as the outside. I tried, just for fun to keep track of how many hours I worked on it. It took about 150 hours to the point that all I had left was the hem. The final work required approximately 2000 inches of hand turning the delicate and individual 6 layers of fabric to a tiny 1/8” rolled hem. I felt it might get monotonous. It was at this point I asked myself, “What if I took a short cut here? What if I all of a sudden didn’t care about the final detail because I just wanted to get it done? What if I felt it would just be too much work and effort!?” Wanting to finish well what I had started, I prayed through the parts that were tedious until I could say it was completed with excellence!

Such is my/our Christian walk. We can all be meticulous – doing a very good job in loving and serving the Lord, but how will we end up when things get tiresome or maybe even a bit uninteresting, unadventurous, or even boring? It might be in my job, my marriage, or at church? I’m watching a few relationships fail as I stand in amazement at foolish and unwise choices being made – choices that affect an individual and the ripple effect to family, friends, and even people in the church. It causes me to ask myself, “How will I finish what the Lord has started in me?”

Just like with the dress, when it comes to the final touches, I want the final years of my being to be ones that continue with excellence, serve in obedience, and have prayed my way through it all – the fun parts and the tedious parts! I want to finish what was started….with excellence.

What’s YOUR plan to finish with excellence?

Don’t Be Jealous of Our Romantic…(WOW! Write On Wednesday! takes 1.30 min. to read)


I’m glad I got your attention. Romance always does, right? You wonder where we might have gone that you’ll get to try some time. Or perhaps you’re thinking we found a great new spot for dinner and you’ll be adding it to your list of places to go!

Well, lane change! That’s not exactly where I taking you. Instead, I’m taking you on a little trip. Oh, yes, it’s a real trip. But it wasn’t the trip I was expecting and neither were you.

Recently, we realized in planning a trip for ministry, that the hopeful 3 days we’d hoped to have (just the 2 of us seeing the sites after the meetings) would need to include our son. The usual care options for our 33 year old son with special needs weren’t available for that frame of time and we would need to take him with us or not go. Delete the words not go and romantic. Even though the trip had nothing to do with romance, just the two of us getting to be together can be romantic because we’re not really alone that much!

We’ve come to realize that sometimes that “romantic dinner for 2” will actually be 3, or the trip that was to be just the two of us will be including our son. It’s a matter of vocabulary and attitude. If we want to do these things, sometimes we need to think outside the box and just make a new plan.

When your plans get changed, the romance you hoped would happen – doesn’t, or you can’t do what you’d thought you might, can you change the vocabulary and attitude to fit the circumstances and enjoy the journey?

I haven’t arrived yet; I’m still learning, but now I generally make sure I reserve a table for 3!


I don’t often mention people by the color of their skin or ethnicity, but because I didn’t know (two of) these people to call them by name, and because of what I’m about to share, I will be doing both.

Just yesterday this white girl (me) was in line at a local discount store. At the checkout in front of me was an Indian man. Behind me was a black man who had one item in his hand (I had a cart full.)

I looked at him and asked, “Would you like to go ahead of me?” He was, of course, delighted.

He patiently waited while the Indian man finished paying his bill….and who was .10 short.
The black gentleman gave the Indian man a dime. Both men graciously accepted the gesture and thanked and appreciated one another.

He was quickly done checking out and looked back at me as he was leaving and said, “Thank you.” We exchanged smiles and good bye pleasantries.

I stood there thinking, “Wow, if we all just treated each other like this more often and let the news report it!”

I know issues of prejudice and biases go much deeper than what I’m describing here, but this is where change can start to be kindled. It starts with treating others (everyone!) with kindness, generosity, civility, and love. In just a 2 minute time frame I watched and enjoyed a very nice transaction with 3 very different people.

We just need to take notice….not so much of skin color or ethnicity but of opportunities to show kindness and appreciation…everywhere and to everyone.


THE SPIN ON SIN – (WOW! Write on Wednesday is back! Read in <3.5 min.)

10405259_873484722673397_8460082224567518866_nWe’re so good at putting a spin on sin, that we almost don’t think we sin or that there is even such a thing anymore!

The word sin is seldom used. We might hear someone say, “I made a mistake,” or “I wasn’t thinking when I did that,” or      the all too famous, “It wasn’t MY fault.” We say everything we can think of besides the word “sin.” We justify, lie, blame  others, etc. but the truth is: that is all just a spin. When we sin there is only one person to blame and that is ourself.

Sin (according to Webster) is defined as “an offense especially against God; a weakened state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.” Perhaps the reason we don’t use the word “sin” much anymore is because we have conveniently, even as believers in Jesus, talked ourselves right into thinking we’re not wrong, we’ve not wronged anyone, and why would Jesus really even care.

The problem is this: He does care, and He knows when we sin. Furthermore, so does everyone else. It’s like the big hole I had in my kitchen ceiling that needed to be fixed. For years I left it. I didn’t want to deal with the mess of dry wall, sanding, and repainting. I didn’t even have to fix it; I just had to clean the mess. So after a while, I didn’t even notice the hole. Everyone who walked in however, did notice it. Yep – big hole…asking themselves, “I wonder why nobody bothers to fix that. It’s a mess.” The reason? It was just plain easier to leave it alone than to deal with what it would take to clean up the mess and fix it. It’s not bothering anyone and who really notices?

Sin is just like that. When someone walks into a room with their adulteress – everyone sees it. They see the sin. They also recognize that they don’t want to do the work to fix the marriage they’re still in because, you guessed it, it’s just too much work to clean up the mess. There are other sins. Fill in the blank and put your own sin spin to the test.

Gossip? We don’t want to stop talking badly about someone because it’s easier just to keep the lies going and it feels good. It feels good to be better than the person we’re gossiping about. It feels good to be “one up” in knowing something no one else knows. (Sadly it’s usually a lie…)

Lying? We don’t want to stop because we sound good. We sound “big.” We like knowing (or thinking we do) information no one else does, and who cares if we’ve stretched the truth a bit? It’s okay if we steal a person’s reputation or character. What does it matter to us? It’s not my reputation!

Stealing? People’s reputations, items from work; clothing from stores….it’s not hurting me personally, right? Someone else can pay for it. Other people can afford it.

Well, some day, the spin on sin will affect you. Suddenly it won’t be you who’s doing the sin and hurting others, soon you will be the one betrayed by an affair or a friendship, or it will be your business from which someone steals and it’s not only going to hurt and devastate you, it will have a ripple effect on others. Suddenly there is a sting to sin because it touched you.

Let’s start to call it what it is. Let’s hold others accountable by helping them stop their sin instead of pampering and coddling them through it. Help them grow up and take responsibility rather than demanding what they think are their rights. We all totally understand forgiveness and God’s redemption but let’s not forget that He can and will provide consequences – and not always in the same way in which sin was committed. The consequence will be manifested somewhere. We can mock sin (“Fools mock at sin,” Prov. 13:9) and think we’ll never get caught, that God doesn’t care, or that others don’t notice or aren’t affected by it. But He does notice and “God will not be mocked” (“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows this he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7)

Whatever you need to do to fix the mess, get started. Make apologies and stop sinning. Turn around and away from the sin. Flee from it. They’ll be a mess to clean up but it can be done.

And when that gaping hole in your heart, like my ceiling, gets fixed…things will look a lot better, and it will be noticeable and oh, so very worth it.


TAKE IT BACK! (WOW! Write On Wednesday!) Read in < 2 minutes

Behind every

  • Disagreement
  • Argument
  • Mean spirited word or action
  • Abuse
  • Murder

are maybe 5-10 things that COULD have been changed if we were to trace it back and TAKE IT BACK to make a new and different decision along the way. We watch the news, our families and friends, and things happening in our work place or community and realize a few wrong decisions lead to (sometimes) very bad places!

I won’t belabor your time with examples of how this works. i actually want YOU to find YOUR own. Think of your most recent (and likely hurtful) argument or disagreement. Trace it back to who said what until you see where the confrontation/difference started. Then, recognize and OWN UP to YOUR PART and TAKE IT BACK. TAKE IT BACK as you go back in time and then also as you ask forgiveness of the person(s) you hurt.

What could you (and/or the other person) have said or how could either of you responded differently? Was it:

  • an action
  • a look
  • a remark
  • a sigh
  • a rolling of the eyes
  • other? _________________

that got it all started? Well…then TAKE IT BACK. Apologize. Make things right.

If we’d stop “in the moment” and make a different and better decision, we’d have less arguments, less crime, less divorce, less of all the things that tear up individual lives, families, and communities. TAKE IT BACK to the next right step and make a new, better, and right decision.

We might just find, if we TAKE IT BACK that we’re:

  • making more responsible decisions
  • not blaming others for OUR errors, sins, and mistakes
  • better off at work, with the family and in all relationships
  • happier in our marriage
  • supportive in our communities instead of hostile
  • forgiving one another
  • working together instead of tearing apart

If you’re not sure about this….TAKE IT BACK to the top and read it again!
If you’re ready to go, TAKE IT BACK!

And HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!



What We “Take” After our Parents Die – None of the STUFF Matters


As a little girl I remember RIBBON CANDY setting on a corner table at Christmas. It was Grandpa’s table; not fancy table; not really great of wood, but I remember viewing it at eye level and admiring the candy. It wasn’t just the candy. It was the people. I remember the kitchen being busy with that ladies cooking and as a little girl getting to help “dry” dishes. I remember all the laughter and conversation. I remember eyeing that ribbon candy and being so excited when Grandpa offered a piece of it to me. It didn’t taste as pretty as it looked….but I loved it! Year after year until my grandfather’s death, there was ribbon candy on that table at Christmas….and it eventually the table wound up in a corner of the dining room of my own parents home. Each time I saw it, I saw the ribbon candy… my mind.

I’ve watched many families implode after the death of one or both parents – and not because of how much they miss them or the grief that overtakes them. Kids want the goods and the money, and will often fight each other for it to the point of destructing what’s left of the family unit. (This happens in divorce, too, even though they “think” it’s going to be amiable.)

My parents died 5 days apart from each other 13 years ago just before Thanksgiving – seems like only yesterday. Mom, the well one died of a massive heart attack ending the 6+ years of caring for my dad with Alzheimer’s. He was already fading fast and died 5 days later, shocking us once again within a week!

My sister who had lived with my folks all those years sat my other sister and me down to discuss what we wanted. Honestly, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind – I figured it was all hers. Where most stories turn to the “I WANT THIS” with bitterness and raging, we actually sat down and discussed it. She was to re-decorate to her tastes, and wanted us to “take” the things we might like for ourselves.

I thought about all the furniture, jewelry, and household trinkets, but it was the memories of laughter and fun that really came to my mind, and the memory of that table. I pointed to it, “And if you don’t want that table in the corner – I’d love it….but it’s not something I have to have.”

Without evening knowing the “why” of wanting that table, my sister soon delivered the table. It was then, that I unfolded the story of the ribbon candy to her. I now grace the table with ribbon candy at Christmas. Sometimes no one eats the candy and I have to through it out, but I never discard the memories.


The memories are the relationships; somehow memories translate to “things” but we can’t let things override relationships. When marriages fail or when people die, none of the STUFF matters in the same way anymore. It’s the memories….and I’d rather enjoy the old table in the corner of anyone’s house than even my own if I had to exchange bad memories of nasty words and bitterness because I had to fight for it. I’d rather fight for strong healthy relationships; I’d rather have my folks than that table; but I’m grateful for all they gave me in memories over the years, and for the little table that now reminds me of them and Christmases and holidays we all spent together.

I hope we’ll all find one fond memory from this year that we can take with us into the New Year to enjoy in all the years to come!




No You Wouldn’t….(WOW! Write On Wednesday! read in <2 min.)

“If I win a million dollars I’ll give more to my church.”

“If I get that raise, I’ll treat  “so and so” to dinner.”

“If I could get a day off, I’d try to spend some time with my folks.”

No You Wouldn’t. And probably I won’t either. Here’s why:

If we’re not GENEROUS now, with the little we have, having more won’t make us more generous. Generosity is a matter of the heart not just the wallet or the ticking of time on a clock. If we want to treat others to something special, maybe we can’t go to the fancy-schmancy place, but we can treat to something….how about pizza!? Taking time from our busy day to talk with someone who needs a listening ear or to visit someone who’s lonely is a matter of priority not minutes on the clock.

It’s clear that generosity isn’t just about money; it’s about time, talents, treasures, listening, caring, etc. If our attitude is that we can’t do things for others until something else happens, we’ve already shown a wrong attitude. It’s an attitude and habit developed over time, not just when the time is right.

We’ll all fail from time to time, but how do we normally operate in our day to day living? Are we willing to stop our busy day and meet a need? Are we willing to reach a little deeper into our wallets and share with others?

Are you willing?

Would YOU do it?