Designed to Bloom in Fire


Monday we mused on
Psalm 66:11-13.
“You brought us into the net;
You laid
affliction on our backs.
You have
caused men to ride over our heads;
We went
through fire and through water;
But You
brought us out to rich fulfillment.”
jump into context for a moment before we get to the meat of the message.
hard hearing that God brought His people into the net (or prison) and laid
afflictions (hardships) on them. Men rode over their heads? Yikes!
waaaay back in Deuteronomy God clues His people in by giving them commands. In
fact, He warns them a billion times it seems not to leave Him to worship other
gods (false gods, idols i.e. anything you put before Him) and then He gave them
clear conditions of what would happen if they did.
One of
those was allowing other nations to come in and take them captive–to net them
so to speak. Many died. But He promised, because He’s
faithful, to keep a remnant of people and that He would deliver them.
The whole point was to turn them back to Him. Away from things that they were
putting first and from ungodly practices.
Psalmist, here, is actually praising God for His wonderful works. Yes, fire and
water came. But yes! God delivered His people through and on the other side
came abundance. Rich fulfillment.
43:1-2 says,”O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for
I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will
be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When
you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames
will not consume you.”
Guess what? You’re going through the fire. And water. Probably
many times. But you won’t be burned. You won’t drown.
take a look at an interesting tree.
Rocky Mountain Lodgepole. The lodgepole “produces serontinous cones which
do not open at maturity because they’re sealed shut by a resin between the cone
and the scale.” *taken from HERE*
trees require heat with temperatures between 113-140 degrees F to melt that
resin and release the seeds.
In nature, only forest fires can produce those kind of
Jackpine, in Michigan, is similar to the Lodgepole. And there’s a bird called
the Kirtland Warbler, which is endangered, that loves to nest in them. So the
Department of Natural Resources actually light fires in these Jackpine
ecosystems so they can release seeds from their cones and thus produce more
trees, thus as more Warblers breed, they have a safe place to live.
In 2002,
“the annual census counted over 1000 singing males…” They can be
heard singing beautiful melodies up to half a mile.
To prepare the ground work, fire is necessary.
I think we’re a lot like Lodgepole pines and Jackpines. We need the fire
cranked up to open us up, to produce seed in order to grow–to bear fruit.
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears
the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and
produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23
When we
allow the fire to come, when God allows heated circumstances to develop us and
open us up for His glory, it will draw others to us and ultimately to Christ.
Like the Warblers. Flocking to us.
Like the
mustard seed in Matthew 13:31, which was a small seed but, when it grew, it
became a tree for birds of the air to nest in its branches. The body of Christ
is like that tree. A place for those to come and nest. Make their home.
Connect. Find comfort–the same comfort we were comforted with when we went
through the fire, when it opened us up and produced good fruit in our lives.
I think
with each Warbler, a new song is sung.
put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our
God. Many people will see this and worship him. Then they will trust
the Lord.” Psalm 40:3
We just
have to get through the fire first. And sometimes, it burns hot. Because that’s
what it takes for us to bloom and grow and produce for the Kingdom. For glory
of our King. And to bring in new birds, with new songs.
hosting at Living by Grace! Like our page on facebook and a new devotional will
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I’m curious, do you have a favorite bird? God’s creatures are

Musing on Psalm 66:11-13: Through Fire & Water

I wanted to
concentrate on this particular part of the verse that’s in the picture, but
here it is as a whole:
“You brought us into the net;
You laid
affliction on our backs.
 You have caused men to ride over our
We went
through fire and through water;
But You
brought us out to rich fulfillment.” NKJV
brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.
You let
people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water,
you brought us to a place of abundance.” NIV
When we
think of God as good, we may have a hard time with verses like these. The key
to understanding them is: word focus, context, and culture. This isn’t a
frightening verse. It’s a comforting verse.
we’ll unpack it and take a look at it from something we can understand. A
particular tree that grows in Michigan and Colorado.
Musing/Meditation Prompts: Remember a time you
felt your feet were in the fire, maybe you’re whole body. Everything seemed to
burn up before your eyes, but you called on the Lord and He delivered you. Can
you picture that time–that season? How did it stretch you? Grow you? How did
you respond–as clay in the Potter’s hands, silver in the refiner’s pot? Did
you buck and fight and grow bitter in that time? What could you have done
differently if you had bucked. What wonderful spiritual treasure developed
inside you from the fire? Have you been able to comfort others with the same
comfort you were given by God?
felt like you were drowning? Being flooded? When the enemy flooded you, how did
God raise a standard and beat him back? Remember the moment your spiritual
lungs were free to breath. Fire and floods are beneficial to our spiritual
journey. Thank God today that He loves you enough to allow those tough times.
You’ll reap rich fulfillment–spiritually.
Where are you? Fire? Going through murky waters? Have you come out
on the other side? If so, do you have any words of encouragement for those are
facing fiery trials and raging storms?

Real-Life Romance: David and Gabrielle Meyer



  I’m thrilled to have Gabrielle Meyer with me today. Her real-life
romance will conclude our series, for now! I may do another month long series in
the future. We’ll see. Gabrielle is a great lady and a fabulous writer—I’ve
read some of her work. I wouldn’t lie to yah! Thanks for being here, Gabe! And
take it away!

I’m an old-fashioned kind of gal. So it’s no surprise that I
write historical romance, or that I prefer to spend my free time in a museum.
It’s also no surprise that I decided
early on that I would be Sweet Sixteen
and Never Been Kissed
I even had the courage to tell a boy this when
he asked to kiss me when I was fifteen! (Imagine the look on his face.)
The surprise came (at least for me) when I was Sweet Seventeen…and I’d still never been
I was homeschooled from fifth grade through tenth. I loved
this experience, but it gave me little opportunity to find a boyfriend. At the
time, I lamented this fact. But now, after hearing so many horror stories from
friends who had terrible first kisses, I’m happy my options were limited.
I met David Meyer when we were sixteen. I was still being
homeschooled, but I’d become friends with a great group of kids through youth
group. David happened to be among them.
the moment I saw him on stage singing in the production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, I knew he was
something special
…it just took me a little while to convince him
that I was something special, too. Almost a year!
But when he finally decided I was the one for him we’ve
never looked back. I was seventeen when David kissed me for the first time, and
he’s the only person I’ve ever kissed. I like that.
This summer we’ll be celebrating twelve years of marriage,
but we’ve known each other for over sixteen. Through driver license exams, parental
curfews, wisdom teeth extractions, high school graduations, college, first
cars, first jobs and stepping out into the world, we’ve made many memories
together. I wouldn’t want to walk through life with anyone else.
God has
blessed our union in more ways than I can count, but at the very top of the
list are our children.
Eight years ago we had our first child, a
beautiful, imaginative daughter with green eyes and a sprinkle of freckles
across her nose. She was followed two years later by our second daughter, who
charms us with her dimples and blond hair. For five years our life was full of
little girls, but God had an even bigger surprise in store for us.
A set of twin boys! Now three years old, one is gentle and
kind with big blue eyes, while the other is bold and curious, with a mischievous
twinkle in his green eyes. To say we were surprised with twins would be an
understatement! Never, in my wildest dreams, could I have planned such a
perfect family.
Like I said, I’m an old-fashioned kind of gal. I believe my
greatest impact on this earth will be in my home, and I believe the most
important calling is to serve my family. Being a good wife and mother is the
hardest challenge of my life, but it’s also the most rewarding.
Every day, through the good times and the bad, I’m in awe of
the God who has generously given us our hearts’ desires and I pray that our stewardship of all He’s given
us will be a blessing to Him for countless generations who follow.
I’m also tickled pink that my first love became my true love,
and my desire to wait for that first kiss was worth it.
where were you when the one you love kissed you for the first time? I was in a
Connect with 
Gabrielle on facebook too!

The Duality of Toxins with Jordyn Redwood

I want to welcome one of my favorite authors to my blog today! Jordyn Redwood. Not only is she an amazing writer, but she’s a really sweet person. I had the chance to meet and chat with her at ACFW this past year. I gushed. I’m trying really hard not to right now. 
Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense
novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical
authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two novels, Proof and Poison, garnered starred
reviews from Library Journal and
have been endorsed by the likes of Dr. Richard Mabry, Lynette Eason, and Mike
Dellosso to name a few. You can connect with Jordyn via her website at
  Thanks for coming, Jordyn, and take it away!
I like book titles with double meaning. My first published
book was titled, Proof.
There were two types of proof the heroine needed. Proof to convict her
assailant of his horrific crimes and proof of God in her life.

Poison, the
second book in the Bloodline Trilogy, is releasing this month and in this
instance—there is an actual nefarious agent (not giving away too much) and a
side meaning as well.
poisons your life?
Is it a bad relationship? Is it believing a
lie? Is it an actual toxin like drinking too much liquor, using illegal drugs
or prescription drugs in ways they weren’t intended?
Writing suspense, particularly with a heavy medical edge, I
think requires something unusual to be found. I’m a research hound. I love to
learn about new things. And for 
I read a lot on different types of toxins.
Aren’t toxins interesting? How minute substances can make a
person ill or end up killing? This is the stuff suspense novels are made from
and the lure for every author—finding that one poison—undetectable,
fast-acting, easily transmittable or ingested without the victim knowing.
I remember as a youngster hearing the story of how a
long-dead great uncle had passed. According to my grandfather, he’d served in
the military during WWI and had died as the result of complications from
mustard gas exposure.
So lately, in thinking about toxins, I began to wonder what
exactly mustard gas was and how did it kill.
Interestingly, I discovered that term “gas” can mean more than just a vaporous substance and can be any
chemical substance.

: Lead
to disablement or death.
Disrupt enemy soldiers.
: Gases
encountered during war that are not related to a chemical agent like excessive
gases from gunpowder during a fight.
Mustard gas falls into the first group—lethal gases. Tear
gas, for instance, would fall into the second category.
But how does mustard gas kill?

gas is also called sulfur mustard and
its name is derived from its foggy yellow appearance and mustard like smell.
It’s a
blistering agent/alkylating agent and comes in many forms: vapor, liquid or
solid. When a person comes into contact with the agent, it damages the skin and
mucous membranes inside. The chemical liquefies tissue.
Since it freezes at a high temperature, it’s not very
effective when it’s cold. It doesn’t spread easily and would fall to the ground
before soldiers could be exposed. This property also made it a good weapon
because it could stay low on the ground for weeks depending on the temperature
and expose unsuspecting troops going into the area. Another factor that made it
a good weapon—people adjusted to the smell quickly.
Mustard gas was used first by the Germans in 1917 and was
born out of the trench warfare era where new military strategies had to be
devised to get men out of their bunkers. The agent was fitted onto artillery
shells which were then shot to toward the enemy lines without the accompanying
explosion which I’m sure seemed strange to the soldiers at the time.
Hey, why didn’t that thing blow up? What exactly is that
yellow fog?
Unfortunately, mustard gas doesn’t often kill expediently.
The first symptom was generally red blisters to the skin that developed within 2-24
hours. If the gas was inhaled, these blisters would slowly develop and seal off
the airway.
Other symptoms:
  •    Eyes: Irritation, redness, burning, inflammation and even
  •   Skin: Itchy redness that is replaced
    with yellow blisters

  • Respiratory system: Runny or bloody
    nose, sneezing, hoarse throat, shortness of breath, coughing, sinus pain

  •   Digestive system: abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, nausea and

It was possible for the body to heal if there was a short,
brief encounter. Longer, more frequent exposures proved to be more deadly.
By the end of WWI, chemical agents inured 1 million soldiers
and civilians and killed 100,000 people.
Likely, mustard gas wouldn’t be considered favorable to use
in chemical warfare these days because of its prolonged activity.
This link goes to a very
powerful article on mustard gas and its effects and was used heavily in the
writing of this piece—the italicized areas are from the article. It is
definitely worth the read.

about you? What interesting things have you researched that have ended up in a

(Jess) like to know, if you’re a reader, what interesting thing have you read
about in a novel that was used by the villain?

Here’s a peek at Poison!
Poison synopsis: Five years ago, Keelyn
Blake’s armed, mentally ill stepfather took her family hostage in their house
in rural Colorado. She and her half-sister Raven made it out alive, but others
did not. Authorities blamed the father’s frequent hallucinations about a being
named Lucent, but in the end, even the best of the FBI’s hostage negotiators
failed to overcome the man’s delusions and end the standoff peacefully.
Lucent is back, and he’s no hallucination. In fact, he is a very real person
with dangerous motives. He has kidnapped Raven’s daughter, and–Keelyn
worries–maybe has hurt Raven as well. Though she is estranged from her sister,
Keelyn feels the immediate need to find Raven and save what family she has
left. But when others who were involved in that fateful day start dying, some
by mysterious circumstances, Keelyn wonders if she can emerge unscathed a
second time.
You tube video link for Poison book trailer:
Link to the first five chapters of Poison:

Relax, Don’t Do It!


If you were an 80s
child, you’re now going to be singing Frankie Goes To Hollywood all day, or
referencing Friends. Die-hard fans of the show know exactly what I’m talking
On Monday we mused
and meditated on Exodus 14:13-14. This past week, I had a terrible few days of
fear. A fear of failing in a certain area of my life (no, it wasn’t
writing–for once). I’ve been circling a mountain, so to speak, that I can’t
seem to get victory in. Surely, I am not alone.
These verses means so
much to me.
In context, He was
talking to the Israelites. His chosen people. The ones He went into covenant
with. They were leaving Egypt, which represents bondage; slavery. And
also…Egypt. Ha! God had judged the nation and its gods with 10 plagues.
Fascinating stuff.
On their way out,
Pharaoh decided to come after them. He brought all his army, horses and
chariots, with every intention of enslaving them again. Victory would not be
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but
we trust in the
name of the Lord our God.”
Psalm 20:7
The people shook in
their boots sandals. They said to Moses,
“Didn’t we say to you, ‘leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’?
Better for us to serve the Egyptians than die in the desert!”
Wow! They would
rather go back to affliction, pain, slavery, bondage, and misery than trust
God. Ultimately, that’s what they were saying. God had no intentions of leading
them out to let the enemy slaughter them.
has no intention of leading you out of whatever you may be enslaved to, only to
let the enemy defeat you when you get a taste of freedom.
Then the LORD speaks
and that’s where our verse starts.
Let’s look at our key words: Stand firm, deliverance, fight, be
Stand firm in the
KJV is “stand still” and in the Hebrew, the word is
“yatsab” which means, “to station oneself or to present
 Now this next little
ditty is interesting. The word is deliverance. In the KJV, it’s salvation.
Let’s take a good look at it in the Hebrew, because I want to show you
something super fascinating!
In the Hebrew, that
word deliverance or salvation is “yĕshuw`ah” Say it
out loud. Does it remind you of another word you may have heard in the Hebrew?
guessed right. (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt!)
Jesus. In Hebrew. Yĕhowshuwa`
You may not be able
to read Hebrew, but can you see the similarities? Why do they sound so similar?  Because the name Jesus comes from two Hebrew
root words.
Yĕhovah meaning, Jehovah–the existing One.
The proper name of the one true God. And the other root word is yasha` which means, to save, to be saved, be
We may
not be facing the literal Red Sea or the Egyptian army. If so, I’d really like
to hear your story, but we do face impossible obstacles and sins that hold us
captive. Sometimes we call those sins bad habits or social faux paus. But they
are sin. Maybe we can’t get a grip on our anger, bitterness, lewd tongue,
gossiping mouths, selfishness, pride, the list goes on.
So we could say: ” The LORD says, ‘Don’t be afraid of the
obstacles or the bondage in your life. Present yourself to Me and see Jesus
Christ work in your life today to set you free.'”
we’re not done yet!
Egyptians (sin; bondage) you see today you will never see again.” () mine.
God is going to not only set you a little free. He’s going to set you all the
way free.
But how,
you may cry out? I can’t do this. It’s too hard. I’ve tried before. I’ve cried
out before. I’m afraid I’ll fail again.
LORD will fight for you…”  He will
engage in battle; make war.
“The Lord is a man of war;
The Lord is His name.” Exodus 15:3
You only
need to be still.
Is God
telling us that we don’t have to do anything?
Yes and
No, we
don’t have to worry and try to take matters into our own hands. No we don’t
have to fight the battle in our own strength, which so many times we do, even
when we think we’re not.
Yes, we
have a part.  God said, “stand firm” for one thing. Okay, how?
“…because it is by faith you stand firm.”
2 Corinthians 1:24 When you engage your faith, you stand firm. That’s how you
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:3
him, standing firm in the faith…” 1
Peter 5:9 (him = enemy)
Look at the verse in
the New Century Version:
be afraid! Stand still and you will see the Lord save you today. You will
never see these Egyptians again after today. You only need to remain calm; the
Lord will fight for you.” Not do nothing, just…
Remain calm. 
So we could say: ” The LORD says, ‘Don’t be afraid of
the obstacles or the bondage in your life. Present yourself to Me and see Jesus
Christ work in your life today to set you free.’ I’m going to wipe out that sin
in your life. I’m a skilled fighter. And I fight for you. Remain calm, have
faith. Put on your armor, and know that I AM.”
Relax. Don’t do it! Don’t wig out and
take matters into your own hands or flip out so bad you buckle your knees and
give up. So many times the Israelites did that and it always cost them. It’ll
cost you. It’ll cost me too.
part of this verse brings you most comfort? I love the whole verse, but
“The LORD will fight for you” really gives me goosebumps in a warm,
delicious way. 
*I normally don’t post on Thursdays but tomorrow I am thrilled to have Jordyn Redwood in the house and she’s talking about a deadly poison. Stop by because the medical facts are intriguing to say the least!

*And Friday will conclude our Real-Life Romance series with Gabrielle Meyer

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Devotionals for each day!

Musing on Exodus 14:13-14: Winning Battles


This could be one of
my favorite verses in the Bible. Of course, I say that about every verse we
muse on. What I’m going through at the time determines my favorite verse for
that moment.
On  Wednesday we’ll unpack this verse. Does being
still mean doing nothing? What is the difference between standing firm and
being still, or is there one?
Meditation/Musing Prompts: Look at the picture
with the little girl walking alone on the beach. Miles of sand. A huge ocean at
her back and sides. How does this photo parallel to these verses? Put yourself
in the place of the child. Think about times God has fought for you. Meditate
on the deliverance He brought, the victory you felt, let it encourage and
strengthen you for the next challenge/battle/war that comes.  Examine yourself; do you let God fight for
you? Think of some times you tried to fight in your own power, how did it turn
out? Picture the LORD as a “a Man of War, trained for battle” take
comfort in His expert skill and leadership.
Prayer for today: Lord, with all the miles we
have to walk, the hot sand on our feet and an endless ocean of battles that
seem too hard to beat, with taunting waves that threaten and overwhelm us, we
know that you fight for us. That you love us. We are not alone. Thank you for
the times you’ve delivered us, extended and lavished grace and mercy. Thank
you, that you never fail us. You never leave us deserted and alone. Even when
we feel like you do. Thank you that we don’t have trust our emotions, even when
our faith sinks and we can’t trust that, we can trust the facts. The facts of
your word are true and faithful. They are reliable. They are guarantees. And
your word says, that you will fight for us. You will deliver us. You will show
yourself might and strong on our behalf. That you are with us to the very end.
Bless your name, Lord.
picture says a thousand words. In your own words, what do you see when you look
at the above picture? It can relate to the verse, but it doesn’t have to. It
can be serious or funny. I love to see how each mind is unique and thinks
differently. It’ll be fun reading the comments, come back if you have time and
see how we all look at one picture but see many different things!

Real-Life Romance: Tim & Jess


Imagine a young seventeen year old girl heading off to Bible college after a good long stint of running from Jesus. Naive. Impressionable. Rowdy….selfish.

God had his work cut out for me. He still does. I’m grateful that He’s long-suffering. I walked onto campus ready to do things right after doing things so wrong for so long. Everything was new and fresh. 

And I had all these ideas about who I was going to become and what my life would be like. Much of it meant using my dad’s credit cards and not having to get a job during college days. What? I said I was seventeen. 

I was going as a missions major with a heart for India. I was going to marry a missions major. We would graduate and then we would head for the mission field to work with girls rescued from brothels. Children of my own weren’t even on the radar. 

I’m a planner. 

Planning is great. “A man’s heart plans his ways…” Proverbs 16:9 God never said we couldn’t make plans. The plans I had going on were good. God-glorifying.

However, I needed cash. Dad cut me off! And um…I wasn’t selling plasma. Needles. Not happening. Someone told me about working on my own time (good for a planner like me) telemarketing.

Yes, I was one of those people you hung up on…or told dirty jokes to. I have a whole other post on this. But hey, it was money and it was fun. 

One particular evening a blond-haired guy with smart-looking glasses set down beside me. Big blue eyes. Full lips. Wide smile that sent crater-like dimples into his cheeks. I thought, “A shy, smart guy. Cool.” So much better than the perv on my left. 

I was wrong. He wasn’t shy at all. In fact, without the f-bombs, he could have been a white Eddie Murphy. He leaned over my cubicle and made a witty remark about my phone skills and I don’t know if he had the intuition or was just so competitive himself that it didn’t matter, but he challenged me. 

Love to hear my man sing
and the sleeves rolled up…bonus!
What is it about a man with
his sleeves rolled up?

Um…don’t challenge me! Don’t make bets! I get all crazy-competitive. Ask Susan Tuttle and Julie Jarnagin. 🙂  I won btw…making the most calls without hang ups that night.

He offered to give me a ride back to my dorm, and I found out he attended the same college. I’d never seen him before. But later I found out, he’d seen me. 

I declined his offer. 

The next work night, I accepted. We sat in his truck until curfew laughing and talking. I found out he was an Evangelism major which immediately threw him off the radar. I was marrying a missions major. And I told him that. 

I will never forget that smirk and arrogant twinkle in his eye. “Okay.” His tone? Smug. But I let it go. No point arguing.


Me and my evangelist…in Thailand together
ministering to the children!

And then he asked me out for Valentine’s and again, I reminded him. I was marrying a missions major. “Come on, as friends.”


“Alright. But just as friends. I’m serious.”

Arrogant eye-twinkle. Smug smirk. “Okay.”

When he showed up at my dorm, he had a dozen roses, heart-shaped box of chocolate, and a card. Inside I was giddy. On the outside, I frowned. “I said, as friends. This is a friend date.”

“Well, you don’t know me very well yet. I do this for all my friends.” He grinned, opened the door for me and we drove into Branson and had a steak dinner. It was fun, I had to admit. But I wasn’t marrying an evangelist. And I was going to India. 

That evening on the way back to the dorms, he pulled off a secluded road. I knew exactly what that meant. Oh my good gravy! I am not parking with this evangelist! Ack! I remember freaking out inside. He turned to me and grinned. 

“What are you doing?” I asked, a cautious look in my eye. 


Thai kids take ice cream sandwich literally.
They eat it on bread. Look closely!

He fiddled with the radio. “Hop out.”

“I’m sorry, what?” 

“Get out, Jess. Come on.” He opened his car door.

I thought, “Hey, better than the back seat.”

And that’s when he took me in his arms and we danced. Just a sweet, soft slow dance on the side of a road overlooking a field.

Yep, REO Speedwagon blared I Can’t Fight This Feeling. LOL But it was so romantic and sweet and I think at that moment, my heart slipped away.

The following year, we were married. He wrote me a song and sang it to me on our wedding day. 

No, we’re not in India…yet. But we’ve ministered to so many people as a team, a partnership. I can’t imagine my life with anyone else. We laugh, we act like complete idiots…well, I do! Tim is my best friend.  Here’s an example:

That’s a photo he sent me.
My ruts in the yard backing out!

I’m thankful for the latter half of Proverbs 16:9 “…but the LORD directs his steps.” 

Maybe you’re out there and you’re a planner. Like me. Remember, God has your very best interest at heart. And when He changes your plans, it’s okay. You always get something better than what you thought you ever wanted! I’m living proof. 


What was your first date like? I’d love to hear in the comments! And have you ever been on a missions trip before? Where did you go? How did it change your life?

Words From the Lover of Your Soul


I can think of nothing that gives me warm shivers like the book of Song of Solomon, especially when I understand the meaning according to my Savior–the Lover of my soul. It’s a beautiful love letter (like all of the Bible), but it’s intimate. Lovely. And yes, even romantic.

Wednesday, we’ll unpack this verse. I think it’s fitting since this week we’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day. There is no greater special Someone than Jesus Christ, Himself. 

Musing/Meditation Prompts:  Reflect upon the times Jesus has spoken to your heart words of affirmation, reassurance, hope. When was the last time He asked you to rise up and come away with Him? What did winter look like in your life before Jesus blew in a new season of spring? Muse on His goodness for seasons. The passing of old ones. The springing forth of new ones.


What season would you say 
you are in at the moment? 

Real-life Romance: Pastor Greg & Nancy Davis


When I think of love enduring, I think of my Pastor and his
wife. Their story is an inspiration to anyone. I hope you’ll be encouraged
today even though she’s only sharing the nutshell. Thank you, Nancy, for being
here today!
Don’t despise small beginnings.  Isn’t that what you’ve always heard?  I would add “or young beginnings.”  I’m sure my mother never had any idea that
when she dropped me off for my first day of second grade at a new school that I
would meet the man I would marry. But there he was. About half way through second grade Greg asked me to marry him, and;
obviously, I said yes.
Despite a couple of short-lived dramatic breakups
during elementary school we were an item. By the time we were old enough to
date there was no turning back.
Pastor Greg & Nancy Davis
Cornerstone Church
Newly married right out of high school we moved off to
attend Bible College (and, yes, the above-mentioned mother was a basket case)! Just
me and him and absolutely NOTHING else. We lived like paupers-as most students
do-and those were some of the most fun years of our lives. We discovered you
don’t really have to have much as long as you are happy with each other. Love doesn’t cost anything except time,
thoughtfulness and commitment. 
a small price to pay for something so rewarding.
You know, in 32 (almost) years of marriage I’ve learned some
things that are ageless.  Love doesn’t have to be complicated.  It doesn’t have
to be demanding or smothering.  It does,
in fact, take work and effort.  It cannot
grow on its own without attention and nurturing but it can flourish greatly when fed a constant diet of respect and
Not to say that marital love is perfect.  No love, other than that of our heavenly
Father, is. But you can certainly weather a lot of storms and face a lot of
“stuff” if you have someone to lean into. And, if handled correctly, the storms of life can make your love stronger –
more solidified.
That’s right! I really did say that! Not that you invite
bad times – absolutely not!  But, you
have to know those times will come.  Just
as sure as life rolls on, those times will come. And how you walk through them
as a couple will make, break, strengthen or weaken your relationship.
Our 32 years (almost) has brought with it many “opportunities”
for strengthening: Eight years of infertility eventually resulting in the birth
of our son, Colton, being born with 6 separate heart defects and facing a total
of 6 open-heart surgeries before his 18th birthday; my battle with a
blood disorder that almost killed me and took two years for recovery; our newly
adopted 12 month old Chinese daughter being diagnosed with a large, cancerous,
potentially-lethal brain tumor followed by a 12 hour brain surgery and 1 1/2
years of chemo and radiation; full time ministry for 25 years (need I add to
that one?) with 15 of those being the Lead Pastors; and, much more – but who’s
counting, right?
In all of these storms came times of despair.  A moment – even if fleeting- when the
darkness seemed greater than the light. We’ve all been there at one time or
another for one reason or another. 
Without Greg, I might have remained there. He held me close when I
shivered from the fear. He allowed me to process my grief knowing that he would
pull me back to deal with the present. He whispered words of hope and love into
my life and into my heart.  We cried
together. We talked out our frustrations and our fears. We contemplated our
options. We talked about everything-whether or not it was easy to say or to
hear. Then, and this is important, we
celebrated all of the good things in our lives.
We counted our blessings in
our times of want. We agreed that even though we might not understand our
situations we were certainly going to invite God into them. We also agreed that
we could allow our trials to make us bitter or to make us better. It was our
choice and we chose better every time. It’s always the best choice. Bitter gets
you nothing. Ever. That’s how we still handle our storms and we’ve yet to meet
a storm we couldn’t endure together.
A lot of our success comes from the little things. He fills
my car with gas because he knows I hate to. I buy whipped cream even though I
hate it because I know he loves it on everything. He buys me flowers on
Tuesdays because he says nobody expects to get flowers on Tuesday. I get up
early to turn the heat up and get coffee ready because he hates to get up to a
cold house. He tells me I’m beautiful
even though I’m constantly getting my hair colored to cover the gray and trying
new face creams to reduce the wrinkles. 
tell him he still makes my heart pound and even though he has a little less
hair now I don’t even notice.  It’s an
ongoing cycle of giving.  What happens,
though, is when you continually give you – continually receive. Pretty nifty
how it works out that way!
There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since he popped
the question way back in 1971 in second grade! 
There is no one in this world I would rather paddle my way through life
with.  Marriage is designed to get better and better every year if that’s how
you build it.
The trick is to get busy building.  
Thank you so much, Nancy, for guesting today. I never get
tired of your love story or watching it unfold every day. You inspire me!
If you’re
married, what are some things you do, to stay busy building a healthy and
successful marriage? If you’re not married, what are some qualities you’re
looking for in a spouse? (my questions)

How to Make it Through Tough Times


On Monday we mused
over Proverbs 19:23.
“The fear of the Lord leads to
And he who has it will abide in satisfaction;
He will
not be visited with evil.” NKJV
So what
does this verse really mean and how can we apply it to our lives? After all, we
live in evil and harmful times. We’re not immune to it. In fact, James says in
chapter 1:2, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various
trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
Harm and
evil are part of this fallen world. It’s inevitable.
said, “All things come alike
to all: One event happens to
the righteous and the wicked;” Ecc.9:2
Then we
need to dig into this verse and pull out the hidden gems. Because we know that
the Bible does not contradict itself. It’s infallible.
let’s look at our…
Key Words: Life, Abide, Satisfied, Visited With
in Hebrew is “chay” and it means, “living, alive, flowing (of
water), reviving (springtime). From the root word, “chayah” meaning
“to live, have life, remain alive, live forever.”
is “luwn” meaning, “remain, cause to rest, to lodge.”
“satisfied” is “sabea” meaning “sated, satisified,
abounding” from the root word, “saba” meaning “to be
fulfilled, sated (with food), be filled, to have in excess.”
So we could say, “To have a deep awe and respect for the Lord
brings us alive like living or flowing water, like the budding flowers at
springtime and we will live forever–eternally and because of this, we can rest
in excess and abundance of Jesus Christ….”
But what
about the latter half of the verse? “He will not be visited with
evil.” NKJV
reminded of the story of Joseph. A young teenager who was thrown into a pit by
his brothers. Begged to be drawn out, only to be sold–bound and fettered
before their calloused hearts and evil eyes–and taken to Egypt. (Genesis 37)
as a slave to an Egyptian captain. (Genesis 39:1)
Yet he
continued to fear the Lord. And he abided in abundance. Everything he set his
hand to, God was with him.
Potiphar’s wife nagged him everyday, working her best to seduce him until he’d
come to a point of weakness and he fled. “How can I do this wickedness
against God?” (Genesis 39:10-15)
instead of a, “Well done, Joseph! You passed another test!” He was
falsely accused or rape/attempted rape, and thrown into prison. (Genesis 39:20)
tells me that evil–calamity, sickness, disaster happens to anyone. Even those
abiding in the Lord. It happened to Joseph. It happens to us.
says in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may
have peace. In the world you will have
tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Abiding in Christ brings an inner peace when everything on the
outside is falling apart.
with evil” in the Hebrew means, “to pay attention to.” So we
could say:
have a deep awe and respect for the Lord brings us alive like living or flowing
water, like the budding flowers at springtime and we will live
forever–eternally and because of this, we can rest in excess and abundance of
Jesus Christ and when calamity or bad things of this world happen, we don’t
have to be bothered or fixate on it because we know that all things work
together for good for those who love God.”
Joseph’s brothers meant for evil, God meant for good. (Genesis 50:20)
things work together for good. Not all good things happen. We have to trust
that the hurt, disappointments, calamities, sickness, deaths, rejection, abuse
can be used by God for good in our lives. (Romans 8:28)
hard to do sometimes, isn’t it?
said, “You have made me fruitful in the
land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:52)
It’s in
the worst of times, we learn to trust the most.
Would you say that you have learned to depend on God most in the
good times or the tough times? Why?