Combating Worry–Love truth and peace

I am officially an ‘older woman’.  I attended a baby shower recently and realized I was old.  I came bearing gifts but perhaps the greater value I have to offer is the gift of having been there and now seeing from afar some things I wish I’d had a better handle on when I was in the trenches of mothering little people and then gangly taller ones…Now my adult children have homes of their own with a burgeoning force of little people under their roofs, and I get the opportunity to play with markers and read picture books and share my awe of nature and my love of the Word.  And on occasion I have words to share, to encourage a mom who is anxiously running the race to grand-parenthood, but whose breathing is out of control.  This was one of those weeks, so I was perusing some ponderings to jog my aging memory.  I pass this one by you again, from one who cycles through these lessons herself at every age and stage in the quest for peace of mind…

The older I get, the more I value it—peace and quiet.  Not just a literal quietness but a calm unruffled-ness, an absence of strife… but what is a mother to do?  The kids may get older, the tensions subtler, (or at least not over blocks and toys), but the concerns of a mother only get larger and the necessity of a peaceful heart more pronounced.  I may have been able to quell the conflict of two toddlers forcibly, and even to enforce a measure of peace and quiet in my household but I cannot enforce it in my own heart!

What is a mother to do?

Is it really a mother’s ‘job’ to worry, as a friend jokingly suggested this week?  Is it really inevitable as long as we are living and breathing that we as mothers should bear the quiet strain of anxiety (legitimized as ‘concern’) for our children’s welfare, or our aging parents, or any number of other relationships under our jurisdiction!  What of the peace that defies understanding?

And guilt, that insidious slithering fellow that insinuates itself into my consciousness and strangles peace and contentment… must I live with it?  Whether it be a vague consciousness that I just haven’t ‘measured up’ as a mom and that the kids are suffering for it, or that I ‘really should be doing more’ in one way or another… it strangles peace and puts a damper on joy.  Can I not be freed of it?  Is there no sure-fire formula?  I asked these things of a friend older than I, whom I know lives with these would-be peace-robbers, anxiety and guilt.  Her answer surprised and disturbed me.  A sigh, a resigned shaking of the head, and a ‘not in this lifetime; that’s what Heaven is for’.

Not to be too hard on her, having caught her off guard perhaps and in a moment of weakness, still, this is not an answer I’m willing to settle for.  I want, if not a ‘formula’, at least a strategy, for recognizing and deflecting those things that rob me of peace.  It’s got to entail more than turning down the sub-woofers and background noise in my environment!  (Though there’s a great analogy there waiting to be milled.)

The Word of God invites me to lay hold on a quality of life unlike any that I can naturally know—eternal and abundant.  It promises the unfathomable peace of God will guard my mind as I turn anxiety into prayer and thanksgiving (Phil 4:6,7). I know this verse. My mind can rattle it off.  But my heart is prone to actually turn prayer into an act of worry, like a dog gnawing on a bone till his gums bleed.  I intend to bring my worries and leave them but in the process of opening the ‘can of worms’ I am overcome with the tangle of them and want only to quickly close the can, putting them out of my mind, and go do something else!  Have you had this experience?

This is where I have found it so valuable to be a part of a bigger Body.  There are a few of us women who get together every weekend that we can to enjoy a hike and pray together.  There is something very encouraging about hearing someone else bring your requests to God that makes believing not seem so impossible after all.  Their faith for your situation is a great uplift.   Another outcome of praying with these women has been to learn by example the art of praising God and thanking him as a precursor to presenting requests.  The focus changes.  My ‘can of worms’ is not so big or so bad in light of a great and awesome God who is over all, through all and in all!  And little by little this stronghold of faithlessness in prayer is being torn down, displaced by praise and worship.

I stumbled upon another great help in overcoming my propensity to anxiety and guilt with the coming of this new year.  The idea kept popping up (in blog-land anyway) of choosing a word to be your word for the year.  It could be anything—like, “Yes”, as a reminder to say yes to God and opportunities He would provide.  Someone else chose, “No”, needing to refine their priorities.  I didn’t pay too much attention, as I wasn’t sure I could ever settle on one magic word anyway.  But then tentatively I began to consider the word: “HIS” as one that would do me good to remember all year.  I’m His (referring to God, of course).  His problem.  His work in progress.  His to take care of.  His beloved.  Just, His.  Now I can’t even find in my chaotic journal scribblings the day when that word began to percolate peace into my soul, but it has been a concrete reminder that I’m not in charge of my life (or anybody else’s lives!).  It is a freeing thing to be the slave of a good master.  You are then His responsibility.  Everything you need is His problem, not your own.  There is great peace in knowing this and keeping it at the forefront of my thoughts.

I am working my way through a practical book designed to promote spiritual growth and especially the putting of Scriptural truth in practice.  Being of a bent toward accumulating knowledge at the expense of acting on it, this has been helpful to me.  Each short reading is accompanied by an ‘experiment’, something to put into daily practice.  Today’s reading talks about becoming ‘a person of joy and peace’:

 “The secret to this peace, as great apprentices of Jesus have long known, is being abandoned to God.  Since God is love and is so great, I live beyond harm in his hands.  There is nothing that can happen to me that will not turn out for my good.  Nothing.  Because of this, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.’ (Is.26:3)” (Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice, p.94)

“Peace and joy are based on confidence in God (faith).  In this confidence, I can abandon myself to God, even die to myself.  As I do these things, striving will cease [sounds like peace to me!] and joy will naturally flow.” (Renovation, p.94)  And this hints at one other implication of surrendering my autonomy to God.  My interests must be for HIS will to be done, not necessarily my own.  I can’t assume that what I want for those I love is precisely what He wants.  For instance, am I prepared to forfeit my desires for their happiness, if trial or loss is part of God’s will for their best good.  Hmm…there is great peace in aligning my desires with God’s and freely welcoming His will to be done in the things that concern me.  On this count I am definitely a work in progress—His work!

What then is a mother to do when she longs for peace and quiet in the throbbing ‘woof’ of life?  I think Paul sums it up pretty well here:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

A song I’m listening to today has these lyrics:

“Oh let Your will be done in me
In Your love I will abide
Oh I long for nothing else as long
As You are glorified”

(Altrogge, ‘As Long as You are Glorified’)

There’s peace to be had in such a declaration.  Enjoy the rest of the song here [Click HERE]—(  —a challenge to trust God no matter what the circumstance. He’s always worthy.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” (Col.1:2)

The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept…will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah.  So love truth and peace. Zechariah 8:19

*Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation is by Dallas Willard & Jan Johnson, NavPress,2006,185pp.

Originally published as “Peace and Quiet” mar.4,2011 –LS

What Joy!

What joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!  

 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.—So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!—Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.  

Keep your servant from deliberate sins!Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.—Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life. 

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!

Ps.32:2NLT; I Jn.1:6,7ESV; Ps.32:11NLT; Prov.29:6NLT; Ps. 19:13NLT;  Ps.139:23,24NLT; Rom 6:17-18 ESV; Ps. 144:15 ESV

Sin looks like freedom to choose but it enslaves.  Righteousness can look like restriction; it can even be painful, but it frees.  Our heavenly Father disciplines us in love in order to produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness.  He is a good, good Father and the very best Master to serve.  And the rewards are beyond anything the world can offer, among them is JOY! 

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.  Mt.25:23ESV

Seeing sin for what it is

He will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea!  

The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.—Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.—For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

But you were unwilling.

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him…

He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.  And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

Micah 7:19ESV; Ps.103:13NLT; Ps.116:5ESV; Prov.28:13ESV; Is. 30:15,18-21ESV; Ps.116:5KJV

God does not pounce on our sins for the sake of shaming us.  He does not pronounce us sinners with delight.  Instead, like a Father, he sees the sins that wreak havoc in our hearts and even affect us physically and He longs to be gracious to us, to wipe the record of them away, to show us better ways to think and to live that will not be so hurtful, so damning.  

He waits on us to admit where we’ve fallen, to recognize the sin that mars us and to confess it to Him, to hold it up for Him to take away and trample underfoot and toss into the deepest sea where it shall never be seen again! He is only too glad to forgive and yes, to forget.  He invites us to do the same.  All that stands between us and freedom is our own blindness and stubbornness to let go of the sinful habits we’ve come to see as a way of life, rather than the paths to stress, strife and strain that they truly are. 

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long….


Take Courage and get to work!

Some days all the different passages in a day’s reading* point to the same theme: Today’s was “Courage!”

Paul to the ship’s crew: So take courage!  For I believe God.  It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island. Acts 27:25

David: Yet I am confident that I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LORD.  Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Ps.27:14NLT

Ezra: I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the LORD my God was on me.” Ezra 7:28NLT

The Lord to His people: Take courage and work, for I am with you, says the LORD Almighty.  My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt.  So do not be afraid. Haggai 2:4NLT

In Haggai the people having returned from exile to the shambles that was Jerusalem, were dilly-dallying on re-building the temple.  They had built their own houses but just weren’t quite ready to commence the daunting job of erecting God’s house.  Enter: Haggai with a message from the Lord.  “How are things going for you? Why are you living in luxury while my house lies in ruins? Now get building!” And the text says the Lord stirred up the spirits of the leaders and of the people and they got building!  I love it that God not only directs us to the tasks He has for us but He is able to encourage us in spirit so that we can rise to obey His will and He assures us of His support in facing the subsequent obstacles! (Haggai 1)

I can’t help wondering if Paul was meditating on this very story when he wrote to stir up the Christians in Philippi to obedience with these words:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil.2:12,13ESV

Paul knew what it was to find comfort and encouragement from the Lord himself which he regularly dispensed to those he discipled:

Paul to the believers in Corinth: Be on guard.  Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.  And everything you do must be done with love. I Cor.16:13,14

The Lord to Paul in prison waiting trial: That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. [Lit: be of good comfort or be of good cheer]  Just as you have told the people about me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome.” Acts 23:11NLT

No matter where you may turn in Scripture there will be fearful circumstances being faced with courage because God is with His people.  They are written for our instruction and encouragement.  In what situation do you need to take courage today and perhaps to get down to work?  Go to it; God is our very present help.

So be strong and take courage, all you who put your hope in the LORD! Ps.31:24NLT

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Asaph) Ps.73:26ESV


*I commend to you a plan for reading Scripture that demonstrates so clearly its unity of theme and purpose. Try reading consecutively through a variety of genres every day and you can’t fail to see the big picture of God’s character and redemptive plan for us, His people. More info under “Bible Reading Plans” in the sidebar menu.  ‎

Clearing Streams that hinder Calling

The grands came out to spend the day this weekend.  Inevitably we found water to play in, even if it’s really too cold to be playing in water.  Of course there were many admonitions about ‘don’t get your feet wet’ but actually they thought they would like to take their shoes off and really get into this! We obliged, figuring these city kids may as well find out about the effect of changing seasons on water temperatures. Determined to love it despite our caution, they did!

We made our way to the stream where they’d played earlier in the summer and began building dams and sailing ‘boats’ of sticks and generally making up for lost time away from water!  And I was reminded of my own childhood near a stream. I didn’t build dams. For me the challenge was to see the water flow better.  I loved to clear leaves from the stream that ran through the little woods in back of our house…

Life is like a stream. It can get clogged with non-essentials that impede the flow of life as it was intended for us.  I’ve been enjoying Wendell Berry’s book, Jayber Crow* this month with some other blog readers at Living our Days. In it Berry explores the idea of calling from the perspective of a man who has lived out his days in a way he hadn’t at first intended. He had thought he should make something more of himself than his mere humble beginnings suggested. And he set out to become a preacher. When that option fails him, he ends up following the river back to his humble beginnings and taking up quite naturally the role of small town barber.  The imagery of the river figures largely in his story and so it seemed fitting to return to a post I wrote a few years back as I was muddling through change and trying to sort out my own purpose in life.  This seems to a perpetual issue for me, so it was instructive and encouraging at this bend in the stream of my life too.  I trust it will be for you as well:


I’ve been thinking lately of my life as an obstructed streamlet. As a kid our house adjoined a small woods through which a stream trickled carrying run-off from the surrounding farmland to the small lake where we skated in the winter and might catch a fish or two in the summer. Every year leaves would fall and rot and clog the flow of water to the lake.  I appointed myself the task of dragging the leaves and muck away so the water could run freely. In company with my dogs and a stick it was a happy pastime.

Now, at this stage in my life, this lull between stages actually,  I am taking stock of the baggage I’ve hauled around for all these years, both literally and figuratively. I’m not only cleaning out drawers and whole rooms for better utility and greater beauty but I’m looking at long-held habits– ways of thinking, acting and reacting. Habitual burdens that make life heavy and clog my streams. And I am thinking the time is now, if ever they are to be jettisoned—these fears I haven’t challenged and the pride that fuels them. These endless reasons why this or that is not feasible and really not a good idea after all…  I long to be done with them.

What am I waiting for?  Why do we cling to our baggage instead of checking it through to never-never-land!  What would it take to drag all this muck out of the stream so it can run freely.

If I wait till I have ‘ME’ all figured out

my fears, doubts and foibles

ironed out—solved—vanquished

my purpose in life clearly charted and understood….

All questions answered

All uncertainties clarified.

When then will I begin…

to try my hand at the things I am drawn to

to serve in love according to my design


a living sacrifice


imperfect, weak, and ineffectual in glaring ways,

BUT chosen, appointed, useful, and declared ‘just right’

because of Jesus—who died on my behalf

—who lives to intercede for me (and you)

Who infuses my mind with truth,

my heart with desire,

my hands with strength,

that is equal to His purposes for my life.

Not equal to my ideals perhaps,

nor to my envies

nor to my every whim or compulsion

But equal to His calling and intents—

His image overlaid on my uniquely created personhood.

He is prepared to take me ‘as is’,

His servant,

for His own glory.

What am I waiting for?


A scene from my childhood comes back to me now.  I have long had this compulsion to be more dedicated, more holy, more ‘something-I-don’t-seem-to-be’, more pleasing… In this instance I recall I had plunked down with my journal in a quiet place in the wood, not far from that streamlet I had cleared, and I was considering what it would mean  to be a ‘bondservant’. Marked for life, by one’s own choice, as the slave of a cherished Master.  Paul called himself ‘a bondservant of Christ’.  I wanted to be that too.  My reasons may have been more a prideful compulsion to please, than a pure love of my Master.  I remember being sober and fearful to trust Him with my life.  But I wanted to trust.  Little knowing what this would entail in the years still ahead of my young-teen self, I wrote out my commitment in words that day, pledging to be a bondservant of Christ.

And here I am, all these years later, still clearing leaves from streams, still sensing His Spirit beckoning me to trust Him to complete the good work He has started–to make of me all He has designed for me to be. But I find it is He who has done the serving. He who has been committed to me through the thick and the thin of my professed love.  And I know it will be His doing if living water is to flow through my streamlet or burdensome baggage yet be jettisoned from my life.  It is good to be bonded to such a Master!

With living words He woos me to more effectual service:

“Walk by my Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh… Whatever you do, do it as unto me. Abide in me. Walk in my yoke. It’s easy. It’s light….”

He beckons me to lay aside every weight to which sin clings so closely– these weights of expectation. These ‘should’s. These demands for things to be other than they are.  Unbelief and discontent with His provision cling closely to these weights. He calls me to lay them aside and run with endurance the race marked out for ME. (Heb.12:1) Not another’s race, but mine.

To trust God to complete the work he’s begun in us, this is the ‘obedience of faith’.(Rom.16:26) To live in confident hope of a yet-to-be-revealed righteousness, this is our salvation (Gal.5:5).  And for our every need, our every weakness, our every propensity for sin Jesus’ blood intercedes and grants us free access to God’s mercy and His grace. (Heb.4:14ff)  What more do we need?

What pleases God?  Jesus does.  He in me and I in Him,  this is enough. (Jn.15:4) Here may I rest my case, beside the quiet streams…

  1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee;
    Let the water and the blood,
    From Thy wounded side which flowed,
    Be of sin the double cure,
    Save from wrath and make me pure.
  2. Not the labor of my hands
    Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
    Could my zeal no respite know,
    Could my tears forever flow,
    All for sin could not atone;
    Thou must save, and Thou alone.
  3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
    Simply to Thy cross I cling;
    Naked, come to Thee for dress;
    Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
    Foul, I to the fountain fly;
    Wash me, Savior, or I die.
  4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
    When my eyes shall close in death,
    When I rise to worlds unknown,
    And behold Thee on Thy throne,
    Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee.

Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778


‘…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress.  And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.’ (Hebrews 12:1,2 NLT)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mat 11:28-30 KJV)

“… being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phl 1:6 NKJV)

*P.S. If Jayber Crow’s story interests you drop by my alternate blog, Dawn’s Quotes and Notes, for some more quotes and thoughts, posted Thursdays till the book is done! or come by Michele Morin’s blog at Living our Days for more discussion!