An Oyster’s Pearl of Wisdom

Standing in line at the post office, my eye caught sight of an elderly woman.  Her long, straight gray hair tied back neatly in a ponytail, exposing beautiful pearl earrings.  You don’t see many women wearing pearls these days and certainly not pearls that were so rich in color and iridescence.

Whether her pearls were natural or cultured by man’s intervention, what is interesting is that all pearls are a product of an irritation.

When an irritant enters the shell of an oyster, the soft tissue of the oyster releases layer after layer of a material called “nacre,” surrounding the irritant and in the process producing a beautiful, iridescent pearl.

From an irritant comes something of great beauty and value.  Himm!

Sometimes we wonder why God allows irritants to enter our lives.  We want God to remove them, right?  But perhaps God wants us to make a pearl!

He wants us to release some spiritual “nacre” – acts of loving kindness around that irritant, layer after layer after layer.   Got an “irritant” in your life?  It’s an opportunity to create a pearl!


It’s Not Fair!

That was my grandson’s complaint.  He had to help his mom clean up the house while his younger brother attended a school event with his dad.

“It’s not fair!  I have to work while he gets to have fun!”

This refrain was mumbled with more energy than what he was using to complete the chore assigned to him.

“It’s not fair!”

A refrain we are all familiar with.  A refrain we have voiced aloud or mumbled under our breath.  It seems as human beings we are consumed by the issue of fairness, especially when we are on the wrong side of it.

And we are not alone in this preoccupation.  Way back in the 1st century, Martha, a friend of Jesus, was upset.  Her sister Mary was listening to Jesus teach instead of helping her prepare a meal for everyone, so she complained to him:

“Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? “ (Luke 10:40 NLT)

As human beings it seems our natural inclination is to view life through this filter of fairness.  We want everything to be fair, but everything isn’t fair.  Even the necessity of Christmas wasn’t fair.  Think about it!

It wasn’t fair that God the Father had to send His Son to redeem mankind.  After all, it was man who brought sin into this world, not God.

It wasn’t fair that God the Son had to empty himself of his glory, majesty, and power so he could be born into humanity.

It wasn’t fair that he then had to die on the Cross for our sins, to pay the penalty of death on our behalf so we can exchange a destiny of eternal death for one of eternal life.

No, Christmas isn’t a celebration of fairness.  Christmas is a celebration of His love, His grace and His mercy, making possible the gift of salvation – a gift that wasn’t “fair” for us to receive, but one we so gratefully accept!

The Why!

We drove 12 hours from Detroit to Boston to help our daughter and her family pack up for a six month sojourn in Rwanda, Africa. After packing and cleaning, and then more packing and cleaning, we drove 12 hours back to Michigan. True, it was work, but it wasn’t a hardship.  It was something we wanted to do for them.  It wasn’t demanded or even asked for, we offered – and the offer was appreciatively accepted.

So why did we sacrifice five days out of our lives when we have a to-do list of our own that fills several pages? What was the motivation? It wasn’t because we feared that our daughter would be displeased if we didn’t help her.  Rather, we gladly did it out of a heart of love for her and her family.  As counterintuitive as it may seem, even though it required sacrifice on our part, there was a delight, even a joy, that we derived from doing something that blessed her – that pleased her.

Which got me to thinking!

Do I do the things that I do, what the Bible calls “good works,” out a fear of displeasing the Lord or do I do them out of a heart of love that delights in pleasing Him?  Sometimes when you’ve been a Christian for a while, the good things you choose to do – the good works that are to follow your faith – can slip into being motivated by feelings of obligation and duty.  The motivation shifts from a delight in pleasing the Lord to a fear of displeasing Him.

It’s a slight shift but one that makes a profound difference to the Lord.  He desires that our “works” be motivated from a heart of love rather than from a spirit of fear.  It’s a difference of viewing Him through a lens of judgment and condemnation or a lens of grace and love.

So you see, sometimes I just need to readjust my lens!  To focus once again on His great grace and extravagant love for me.  What I do may not change, but certainly the “why” will.

God’s Facebook


What if God had a Facebook page?


Certainly His following would be immense and the number of “likes”off the chart.

But what would He post?

What words of wisdom would fill His timeline?

What pictures would He share?

But wait a minute! God already has a “Facebook” page, in fact not just a page but a book of pages that reveals to us His “face.”  He posts a picture of who He is when we read about His Son Jesus who entered humanity.  For even Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father.”  Our God has posted thousands of words sharing His gift of salvation, His wisdom and guidance.

But we need to like His Facebook not just by giving it a thumbs up.  Not just by having His Facebook as an app on our phones.  But rather we need to intentionally set aside more time to delve into His Facebook.

Perhaps like me, you need to set aside your phone more often – spend less time catching up with FB friends, checking for the latest Instagram pics, tweeting on Twitter or linking up on LinkedIn – and set aside more time to seek the Lord, to see His face in the gift of His book, the Bible.

Just saying!

No “Delete Button”

Sometimes I wish there was a “delete button” in life.  To be able to “backspace” the words I have spoken; to delete the deeds I have done.  I can be forgiven, but I can’t change the fact that I spoke the words or did the deed.

And sometimes, that is where we get stuck.  That’s where we dwell.

We believe that God has forgiven us, but we struggle to forgive ourselves.   We dwell on the memory, like a dark cloud hovering over our life.  No matter the joys of life, they are dampened by the regret, dampened by hurt we have caused.  But God doesn’t want us to dwell on what He has forgiven.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”  (Isa. 43:18)

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)

Yes, the Lord wants us to learn from our mistakes. Yes, we need to repair relationships by asking for forgiveness from those we have hurt.  Yes, there may even be consequences we have to accept.  But, God does not want our past to keep us mired in despair and regret, robbing us of peace. – hindering us from moving forward.

Sin nailed Jesus to the Cross and that precious sacrifice miraculously makes forgiveness a reality.  Forgiveness, when embraced, brings peace and joy – the joy of one perfectly forgiven, though we live imperfect lives.

Don’t dwell on past mistakes.  Dwell on His mercy, His grace, His love.

Just a Thought



A Compassionate Embrace

Exhaustion.  A word that summed up what I was feeling on a day filled with purging and packing 25 years of living.  We had sold our home and in just a few days the new owners were scheduled to move in.

Needing a few more boxes and some cleaning supplies, my husband Joe and I, along with our 7 year old grandson, Joel, piled into our car and headed to Home Depot.  Since Home Depot is not my favorite shopping venue, Joe said he would just run in and get what we needed.  Gratefully I accepted his offer.

Alone with Joel in the car, I turned to him and with a deep sigh said, “Joel, your grandma is sooo tired!”  Sensing my weariness, Joel unbuckled his seat belt, jumped up to the front and sat on the armrest next to me.  Then he put his arm around my shoulders and leaned my head against him.  Not a word was said.  The embrace said it all.

I was still physically exhausted, but my heart and soul were refreshed by his loving and thoughtful act of compassion.

That day Joel reminded me of an important truth.  The power of a simple act of loving compassion.  Seeing a need and responding to it – not with grand gestures but with quiet compassion.

When you look at the ministry of Jesus, at the heart of his great miracles is compassion.

You see it when Jesus touched the leper before he healed the man.

You hear it in his kind response to the woman who touched the hem of his garment.

You observe it when Jesus tells the widow of Nain, “Don’t cry!” before he resurrects her son.

Sometimes while we focus on His miracles, we miss out on seeing how Jesus was moved by compassion – a compassion we are to emulate.

It doesn’t matter whether God has called you to be pastor or a greeter; an evangelist or a nursery worker.  It doesn’t matter whether you are called into full time or volunteer ministry in a church.  What we are all called to be is compassionate.  Not just with words but with simple, yet genuine acts of compassion.  Sometimes all it takes is just a compassionate arm around a weary shoulder!

The Field Trip


My daughter, Allison, called with an unexpected request.  Our grandson, Owen, wanted his grandpa to be a chaperone on the 5th grade field trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts.  Honored by the request, my husband cleared his calendar and gladly accepted the invitation.

As the date for the field trip drew near, Joe received all of the requisite instructions regarding the duties of a chaperone, but he also learned there would not be enough room for the chaperones to ride on the bus with the students, so he would have to drive to the DIA and meet the students there.  (You are correct, if you right now you are thinking that Joe was not a bit disappointed about that news!)

Well, on the day of the field trip, Joe drove to the DIA and soon located the other chaperones – all mothers.  As he walked up to them, he introduced himself.

“Hi, I’m Joe”

There was a polite reply.


Then Joe added:

“And I’m Owen’s grandpa.”

Then almost as if it had been scripted, in unison with great enthusiasm they declared,

“Ohhh!  You must be Allison’s dad, too!”

Not only is Allison a teacher in their school, but her children attend there as well.  So these mothers know her both as a teacher and a fellow mother.  It wasn’t my husband’s name; it was his identity that triggered their enthusiastic response – his identity as a father to Allison and a grandfather to Owen.

As Joe related this story to me, I couldn’t help but reflect on the significance of our spiritual identity.  Certainly I am a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, teacher, friend and more.  But my earthly identities are all grounded in that most vital spiritual identity – my identity as a child of God.

An identity I didn’t earn.

An identity not based on any measure of perfection or worthiness in me.

My core identity as a child of God is all because of His love.

“So what kind of love the Father has for us, that we should be called the children of God, and so we are.  (1 John 3:1)

Each of us have a name.  But when we get to heaven(that eternal field trip), we will be welcomed by the Father and his angels with a joyous  response, because our name is wrapped in the identity of who we are – a child of God!

No Clap Needed

hands clap

“If you can hear me, clap once.”

“If you can hear me, clap twice.”

“If you can hear me, clap three times.”

With three simple claps my sister, a teacher, could quiet a room of rambunctious students.   They would quickly move to their seats.  The talking was stilled.

Three simple claps and quiet!

Not long ago, I read this scripture in a book of the Bible that I rarely read, and it jumped off the page.  The prophet Zephaniah was inspired to write:

“He (the Lord) will quiet you with his love . . . “  Zeph. 3:17 (NKJ)

God doesn’t need a clap; He quiets us with His love. 

A love that quiets our fears in a world filled with turmoil.

A love that reminds us He is sovereign; He is still in control.

A love that comforts a troubled or broken heart.

A love that renews our strength when we are weary and overwhelmed.

A love that quiets the lives of His children even though we live in a world filled with the “unquietness” of discord and umrest.   He is peace in the midst of the storm.  He is the calm in the tempest.

When the noise of this world becomes too loud, you don’t need a clap, you just need to embrace His love and be “quieted” in your soul.


In our house we had a Saturday morning tradition.  We would watch a PBS favorite called, “This Old House” followed by its sister show, “Ask This Old House.  While “This Old House” focuses on a total renovation of an old home, “Ask This Old House” focuses on specific projects that can be accomplished in just a few hours.  In one such episode a woman requested the expertise of Roger, the landscaper.  She needed help planting a garden in her backyard.

For me this was nothing new.  Years ago my dad had commandeered a section of our backyard to plant a garden.  Having grown up on a farm, he relished this opportunity to teach us how to grow all kinds of vegetables.  So we learned how to plant beans, beets, carrots, zucchini, and lettuce – all from seed.  But when it came to tomatoes, we always started with small tomato plants – which is exactly what Roger did.

Planting-tomato-plants-deepBut to my amazement, he did something we never did.  Roger instructed the homeowner to plant the root of the tomato seedling deep into the ground, so that even the stem of the tomato plant was covered with several inches of soil.

Now this was counter to anything I had learned from my dad. We always planted the stem or stalk of any plant a few inches above ground.  So I was puzzled.  But fortunately Roger explained his reasoning.

While the stalks of most plants need to be planted above ground, the stem of the tomato was unique.  When it is planted deep into the ground, horizontal roots grow out from the stem.  Thus a strong root system is developed – roots growing vertically and horizontally – providing the tomato plant with much needed stability to support the tomatoes it would produce.

As I pondered Roger’s instructions, I couldn’t help thinking how it parallels a spiritual truth.

In Col. 2:6-7, we read this exhortation:

“Let your roots go down deep into him (Jesus) and let your lives be built on Him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught.”

We need to be planted “deeply” into the soil of God’s grace.  We need a strong root system for our faith so we can bear the “weighty” fruit of Christ’s character in us:

  • the fruit of love for the Lord and for one another
  • the fruit of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, obedience, and self-control
  • the fruit of good works

But how do we “let our roots go down deeply into Jesus?”

By making the intentional choice to be:

  • Planted deeply in God’s Word where His truth can take root in our heart and mind.
  • Planted deeply in His presence by carving out dedicated times of personal prayer.
  • Planted deeply in a church where our spiritual growth can be nurtured.

Then our faith will grow strong and our lives will produce the “fruit” of Christ’s character.  Who would have thought that a tomato plant could teach us such an important lesson!