Tuesday, June 28, 2011

End of school year

Well it is that time of year again. Time to write up my final paperwork for the school year, our 4th quarter reports. It is a time to reflect on the past year, what we covered and what we didn't. What we enjoyed and what just didn't work for us.

I find it so hard to believe that another school year has already come to an end. To say it passed quickly would be an understatement. I am still a little in shock that it is officially summer vacation at our home, and maybe even a little bit in denial.

Don't get me wrong. I love summer vacation, probably as much as my children do. But I don't feel prepared for it. I don't want it to fly by and think, "Wow what did we actually do this summer? Where did all those weeks go?"

So I have done a little brainstorming, but want to do much more and come up with a more solid plan or at the least, an outline of what I would like to get out of this summer.

We have started a list of ideas for field trips. A list of fun things to do on days we stay home. Even a list of things I would like to accomplish, such as working on my daughter's domestic skills and getting in lots of summer reading. I hope that this will help us have lots of fun, but to also get lots of things accomplished. That at the end of the summer, we can look back and feel good about it.

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Response-Able by Matthew Hagee - A Review

I honestly didn't know what to expect from this book when I requested.  But I liked the sound of the title.  It took me a few pages to get into the book and figure out where it was going.  But then I was intrigued and curious to see what all it had to show me.

One of the main themes of the book is about how you respond to situations and problems in your life and in the world.  Be ready to respond.  You might not be able to fix everything and you definitely might not be able to fix it instantly, but do what you can to get it started.

I like quotes and mottoes, and this book had plenty of them.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:


Charisma House (June 7, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Matthew Hagee is the sixth generation to carry the mantle of gospel ministry in the Hagee family. He began preaching at seventeen years of age and is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He serves as the executive pastor of the twenty-thousand-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, and is the author of Shaken, Not Shattered. He lives in San Antonio with his wife, Kendal, and three children.

Visit the author's website.


You Can Make a Difference!

What if the churches of America could feed every hungry person in their cities? What if we had the resources to educate every child in an environment where respect for God was encouraged? What if we could help create jobs that empowered people and gave everyone the opportunity to give back in the same way that they had received?

As a pastor, Matt Hagee recognizes that there are things in our world that need changing, and, like many younger Christians, he wants to be a part of the solution. In addition, Matt has received a rich legacy from his father—pastor and best-selling author John Hagee—that includes experiential wisdom rooted in solid biblical principles.

In Response-Able he combines the passion of youth with the wisdom of his father’s experience to provide both the inspiration and the steps for a lasting change in each of five key areas:

Your personal life
Your finances

You can make a difference if you will become personally committed to doing so. No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you are going through, the time has come for a turnaround, and being “response-able” begins with you.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (June 7, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381361
ISBN-13: 978-1616381363


You Are Always Able to Respond

Seven Lessons of Personal Responsibility
As I learn more about my life and observe how others live their lives, one thing has become crystal clear: You are always able to respond.

In 2006 my father led the effort to unite Christian leaders from around the country for the sake of the biblical mandate to support Israel. In February of that year, the first-ever meeting of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) took place. Later on that summer, in the month of July, the four hundred plus pastors and leaders who were in the February meeting brought more than three thousand people to Washington DC to meet with senators and congressmen to let them know personally that as voting Americans, we were very concerned about the welfare of the nation of Israel and that we fully expected them to be supportive of our ally in the Middle East.
The success of the event, by all observations, was overwhelming and indeed surpassed expectations, but for me, there was a moment in that first Christians United for Israel Summit that I will never forget. My father, along with select members of the executive board, was holding a press conference in the Hilton Hotel. Members of the media from all organizations, both friendly and hostile, were there with their questions, which ranged from suspicious and accusatory to investigative and journalistic. I simply took a seat in the back of the room to observe him, as a son who was watching his father do what he has always done, stand up and speak up for Israel.
It didn’t take long for the question to be asked, “Pastor Hagee, why did you start this organization, and what are your long-term goals?” My father began the answer with a very familiar story to me about what had caused him to have the very first “Night to Honor Israel,” which was held in in 1981 in San Antonio, Texas, following the world’s outrage over Israel’s strategic military strike on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor in Iraq. Could you imagine anyone attacking Saddam Hussein for representing a threat to the security and well-being of the rest of the world?
I was three years old when the first Night to Honor Israel took place, so hearing the retelling of the story was not an earthshaking revelation on that particular afternoon. My father has always, both publicly from the pulpit and privately in our own home, been passionate about supporting the “apple of God’s eye.” The sentence that took my breath away and left me to ponder for the next few days came at the conclusion of my father’s answer to the obviously hostile reporter from Reuter News Service. After he had explained his more than twenty-five years of staunch support for Israel, he finished by saying these words: “And I feel that I was born for this moment right here and right now.” Those are words I will never forget. In July of 2006 Dr. John Hagee was not short on accomplishment by anyone’s standards, and yet in spite of all that he had already achieved, roles he had played, areas of service to the greater good provided, at the age of sixty-six I heard him say that he finally felt as though he had accomplished his purpose.

For me that was a very heavy statement. My dad doesn’t throw around words for the purpose of poetic moments. If he says it, he means it. I have had a front-row seat and have seen firsthand in every arena all that his life’s work has accomplished since 1978 to now. There was the birth of the television ministry, which reaches millions around the globe; the writing of more than twenty-five literary works, which have topped the best-sellers’ lists on more than one occasion; the building of one of the finest churches in America, which is continuing to grow and thrive; and not to mention the raising of five children who are all married and living relatively successful lives. This short list is not all inclusive, but it simply provides a few of the things that in my mind would have given my then sixty-six-year-old father the privilege to say, “Look at all that I have achieved. I’ve earned the right to enjoy my work and take my rest. Thank you very much.” However, the answer I heard him give to that small-minded journalist was loud and clear to me. That in my father’s mind he had only just begun to really fulfill his purpose. Needless to say, I was blown away.
Later on that night in my hotel room, I replayed those words over and over again, and from them I extracted this lesson that I want to share with you now: You are always able to respond. First, consider that in 1981, as the world saw a bold military action taken against a major tyrant and as global leaders stood up in outrage, a relatively unknown pastor in South Texas stood up to applaud the only way he knew how. Some may have thought, “What good will he do? What difference will he make?” Yet, thirty years later, Christians United for Israel has more than six hundred thousand members and is growing stronger every day. In addition, consider his actions in 2006. At the age of sixty-six, when others might have said, “I’ve done all I can do; let someone else carry the ball,” he stood up once again and took his support for Israel to an entirely new level. That night I learned that life accomplishments are never really complete.
No matter how renowned or unknown the person may be, there is a series of stages that have a commencement and a completion followed by yet another commencement as a new chapter of life begins.

To illustrate this point, consider the stage of life I am in right now. My wife, Kendal, and I have three beautiful children and are immersed in the process of raising a family. Hannah is five, John William is four, and Joel Charles celebrated his first birthday a few months ago. Every day spent with my young family is an adventure. It’s not a matter of if our children will get into something—accurately stated it is, what will they get into next? I can see things that remind me of my childhood in each of my children, and, in my behavior as a young father, I often reflect on what my father instilled in me. You see, I have completed my stage as a child and have launched into my chapter as a father.

My dad plays a role in all of this. He has completed his stage as the father of five, with all of his children grown and married, and has commenced into his new, beloved role of Paw-Paw. You don’t have to ask him if he likes having grandkids. All you have to do is watch the way he behaves around them. When my kids walk through the door of his house or into the room where he is, I say they have entered the kingdom of yes. Whatever they ask for, the answer is yes, certainly, absolutely, and of course you can. It’s as though my father was saying to them, “Forget what your stuffy parents told you before you came. You are in my presence now, and I have given you the keys to the kingdom.” I often wonder where this man was when I was growing up.

The answer, however humorous, is really rather profound if you think about it. The reason that my father has the opportunity to enjoy his grandchildren at this point in his life is because he took great care and responsibility in caring for his five children earlier in life. He successfully completed one chapter of life and has commenced with the next. It is the next logical and natural progression. You see, until you do what is required of you in one stage of life, you cannot fully enjoy the next. By completing his job as a father, my dad could embark on being a grandfather, and he soaks it up for all it’s worth! After all, I assure you we made him earn it.

While this example may seem very simplistic, the fact is that too many people are unwilling to do what is required of them even at this basic level. They want the pleasures and joys of life to which they feel entitled, but not the ones that they have actually earned. Let’s look at a few more examples.
People think that with four years of college under their belts, they deserve a secure, high-paying job with great benefits. They expect to receive a deposit to their bank accounts on payday, but they are not willing to take responsibility and produce more than they consume to work hard for their companies. Citizens feel that the government owes them some sort of utopian existence where every question is answered and every problem is solved. Yet they are not willing to stand up and be responsible to defend the freedom and liberty upon which this nation was built. Rather than confront the problems, they live to compromise.

When you stop to take a closer look at your life, you will clearly see that there is no easy street—not on any level. If you are going to build a life that you can enjoy, then you must make up your mind to earn it every day in some way. Again, consider the illustration regarding fathers and grandfathers.
There are many cases, unfortunately, in which fathers have abandoned their responsibilities concerning their children. This neglect causes them to be estranged from their children, thus disqualifying them from ever having the opportunity to enjoy a relationship with not only their children but also with their children’s children. The deficient chapters of their lives hinder the current story from being the pleasant reality they once hoped for, all because they did not complete what they had embarked on—fatherhood. In failing to finish what they started by doing what is required of fathers, they forfeited the future. This principle can be illustrated over and over again with any number of situations and in almost every circumstance.
There are people who face this same issue concerning their physical health, just like those in fractured family relationships. The choices they made in one stage of life have not allowed them to commence enjoying today. Be it bad eating habits or lack of physical exercise or just plain laziness, the choices they made in the past encumber their next stage.

For others it might be financial choices. Rather than becoming responsible stewards, they buried themselves under mountains of debt and materialism. Now a weighed anchor hangs around their necks, and the life they are living is nothing like the life they had hoped for.

In Section 1 of this book I will show you that no matter the circumstance you find yourself in today, you are able to respond.

You can make a difference if you will become personally committed to doing so. It takes courage and commitment, but these two ingredients, combined with some genuine dedication, will give you all the strength you need to change the direction your life is going and give you the hope and future you desire. You can leave the past behind and not look back. Always remember: Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is beyond your reach, but today is in your grasp. What you do with it is up to you. If you handle it right, when today is complete, you will commence upon tomorrow with triumph instead of tragedy. The choice is yours.

Respond Based on Principles
If you truly wish to make a change on anything great or small, you must always keep in mind that it begins and ends with you. Many people live life in reverse; they are always ready to tell us what is wrong with the big picture. These people have a bad case of what

I call the “I’ll tell you what you need to do” disease. They have the answers for everyone else’s problem. They can solve all of the difficult issues of life in one power lunch, but they can never seem to get things to add up in their own existence. It doesn’t really matter what the issue is; they’ll look you in the eyes with confidence and say, “I’ll tell you what they need to do.” The passionate monologue that follows usually sounds good, but it rarely produces results. I was taught that before you can address the change you want to see in someone else’s life, you have to take account of the change you are willing to make in your own life. Maybe when I was younger it sounded like “Practice what you preach.” While it may sound elementary, this principle has had a profound impact on me.

It’s easy to get on your soapbox filled with passion and fire and tell others in a reverent tone how to live; it’s altogether a different thing to live it. When you live it, it’s a matter of principle, and principles endure long after the fire of passion burns out.

When responding to life, I highly recommend that you do so based on principle instead of passion. Passions are very fickle things at best and are famous for running hot and cold. One reason very few people make effective lasting change is because they seldom base their actions on solid principles, but rather let them be fueled by passion. Everywhere you turn you see lives that are driven by passion rather than ruled by principle.
The flames of uncontrolled passion can reduce the most established life into a pile of ashes. How many times have you seen the guy who has it all go down in flames because he based his choices on passion rather than live his life based on principle?
However, lives that are built on a foundation of principle will have stability that is able to endure the most volatile of times.

In 1981 when my father began supporting Israel and the Jewish community, it was not because of passion, but principle. As a man of the Word, it was required of him to do so. It was extremely controversial, often ridiculed, and even to this day heavily scrutinized, but still the results are impossible to deny and came as a matter of principle.

Consider Job, a man who experienced a tremendous amount of sudden changes. He saw all of his wealth, which had taken a lifetime of work and effort to amass, vanish in one day—along with all his children, whom he deeply loved and cherished, and his own personal health. Yet when the sun set on his tragedy and all that he held dear was laid to waste, from a foundation of principle he was able to say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

From observing my father’s life of ministry to others, I could fill this book with stories of one personal tragedy after another, some of which would send chills running down your spine if you heard the details. The difference in the outcome of each is marked by those who responded to life’s most challenging days with principle rather than letting their passions overtake them.
How do you live your life? Do you live it upon a solid foundation of principle or upon the volatile passion of the moment? If you live by principle, you’re well on your way to being a difference maker. Not only are you on the road to your very own personal revolution, but also you can impact change in others as well. If you are planning to make a physical turnaround, no matter what resources you seek to assist you, no matter your circumstance, lasting change is a matter of principle; it will be the changes in physical principle that will actually revolutionize your health. Likewise, if it’s a financial principle, it will be an economic turnaround. However, if your passion is in the driver’s seat, then good luck, because I assure you, not even you know what you will do next.
One very simple illustration that I observed one evening at a friend’s house demonstrates how simple and yet powerful this point can be in your life. We had finished dinner, and I was invited to sit in the living room for a visit and conversation while the hostess and her teenage children cleared the table and did the dishes. As the evening went on and the sound of dishes and silverware clattered in the sink, there was suddenly a sharp sound of something shattering, which rang out above every other noise. After a brief moment of tense silence, the noise in the kitchen carried on, and cleaning was back under way.

It was at this time my host said something that jumped out at me, and I have not forgotten it to this day. Sitting in the other room, not even able to see the commotion in the kitchen, he said, “My wife dropped that one.”
I quickly asked him, “How can you tell?”

His response was both honest and sad. “She didn’t yell at any of the kids.”
The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. Dropping a dish is an accident. As a matter of fact, if you have never done it, it simply means you don’t do many dishes. This honest mistake could have been made by anyone, but in this particular home, if Mom made the mistake, no one said a word; but if one of the kids made the same mistake, then Mom was going to let them have it. Why? It was because the mother’s passion dictated her behavior.
Remember that I said there are plenty of dictators in the world waiting for the chance to take control. Well, not all of them wear military uniforms and steal elections. Some of them are those personal emotions and behaviors that have total control over you.

If breaking a dish was a matter of principle, the moment the plate slipped out of her hand, she should have been held accountable for the misdeed. However, because it was not a matter of principle but just an honest mistake, no one made mention of it. Had someone else done the same, she would allow her personal dictator to explode with passion over the broken porcelain on the kitchen floor.

What alternate principle has more value to the quality of life in a home? It is the principle that the kids help Mom out around the house. Then, even though accidents happen, they can still graciously host a guest without the passion-driven idea that if the kids drop a dish, you’re dead, and don’t laugh if Mom does it—or at least not while she’s still in the room. One principle brings a family together; the other drives them apart. One says, “Even if you make a mistake, I still love you and appreciate that you are trying and doing your part.” The other says, “Don’t you dare mess up.”

I know that some of you are thinking, “Wow, all of this over a plate!” Not really; I only use the story to bring to light the fact that people are allowing their passions to dictate their behaviors, and they are yelling at each other about a lot more than just dirty dishes. In doing so, they are allowing their passions to drive them apart rather than allow their principles to pull them together.

Take a moment and consider how many areas of the world around you are totally polarized by passion. Two opposing sides, and both are devaluing the other and refusing any quarter or ounce of surrender because passion is on parade.
A conversation after dinner in the living room over a broken dish might be a small thing, but it was an object lesson that illustrated something my father asked me long ago: “Son, why do you do what you do?” Is it because it’s the right thing to do no matter the circumstances or emotions you are dealing with, or is it because you allow your passions to dictate?
Principles are powerful. They will make men out of boys and instill a foundation in future generations that cannot be shaken. It takes courage to do what is right, no matter what and strength to keep passion under control at all cost. That doesn’t mean you cannot be passionate about the things you love.
Consider my family. You can’t be around the Hagees very long without knowing we are people filled with passion. We are the loudest at the Little League game, the most competitive on family game night, and don’t even try to take us on in a golf match! Visit Cornerstone on Sunday, and for an hour and a half you will experience passion-filled moments—but it is principle that is in the driver’s seat. Unless you live your life in proper order, you cannot expect to make progress and achieve a goal of any kind, because your passion will lead you astray. When you live your life in proper order, you can become passionate about your principles rather than be dictated by your passions.

As a husband and father, I have a number of principles for my home. First and foremost is that we honor the Lord God. Does that mean that we live perfect little halo-wearing lives? Hardly. I don’t know a soul who does. What it does mean is that we strive to please

Him in all that we do. This principle is something that we are passionate about as a family. It is why we go to church together and pray together. It is why we read the Word of God to our children and challenge them to memorize it and hide it in their hearts so that they can live lives that honor God.
We don’t do it because it’s popular or because everyone up and down the block is doing the same. We do it because it is a principle foundation of our lives that makes us who we are. We do it because one day I want to be a grandfather who has the opportunity to spoil my grandchildren in my very own kingdom of yes. I do it because rather than being the guy who sits in the corner of the restaurant filling the air with what others ought to say and do, I want to be the kind of person who, by setting an example with my own behavior and that of my family, inspires others to say, “I want to live like you.”

It’s how I was raised, and for me, it’s a matter of principle to see my children do the same. This one truth can change your life. Principles enable you to become an example to others in a way that may change their lives too. They can lead you to a life of submission, which may be the missing ingredient to achieving your greatness and one that can lead you to the next step in your personal revolution. So, what drives you: principle or passion?
Take a moment before going on to the next step, and consider some principles that you might want to live by. As a guide for you, I have written three that I strive to achieve on a daily basis in my own life based on what my father taught me. You may want to write more, or you may want to list specific details that will help to create your personal prescription. Whether you choose to participate in the exercise of actually writing something down or simply take a moment or two to ponder what you see before you is up to you. What is important to note is that principles have the power to turn around your personal life. Any response you make to the world around you should be a matter of principle.

Step 1.1: Principles of Personal Responsibility

• Personal Principle 1: Invest more in others than you spend on yourself.

• Personal Principle 2: Live every day as if there is instant replay and your every move is going to be reviewed.

• Personal Principle 3: Be grateful for everything. Even the hard days have value.
Questions to Consider
1. Do I live my everyday life based on principle or passion?

2. Is there an area of my life where my passion is out of control?

3. What is one principle I can put into effect and live by, starting today?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pressing into Thin Places - A Review

This book was a quick easy read.  I enjoyed it and was comforted by it.  One of the most impressionable statements for me was - "My times are in His Hands".  That statement has really stuck in my mind and I find myself repeating it often. 

Another important reminder is that sometimes God will take us out of trials, but most times He walks with us through it.   

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Pressing into Thin Places

Brown Christian Press (May 2, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


A writer and a poet, Dr. Wills is dedicated to the ministry of encouragement and helping people experience hope, wisdom, and faith in their spiritual journey.

She has written for a number of publications including The Journal of the Fort Smith Historical Society. She previously served on the board of the Arkansas Community Foundation. Dr. Wills makes her home in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Visit the author's website.


Dr. Wills knows from her own experiences that life is not simple and that we all need encouraging words and reasons to hang on to hope. She offers these in abundance in this deeply personal, beautiful, and thoughtful work that summons authenticity and contemplation while soothing the dark night of the soul with kindness and truth. With transparency and refreshing gentleness, Wills tackles universal fears, disappointments, wounded relationships, and even death and beckons readers to pull aside the veil and to see into that "thin space," as the Celtics called it, where all that separates heaven and earth becomes almost transparent. She invites readers to wrestle and be comforted by assurances of God's love and goodness even in the darkness.

Pressing into Thin Places is a collection of stories from the author's personal experiences, punctuated by her poetry and infused with biblical verses and rich truths. Wills answers questions like, "How do we keep from falling into despair when pain and suffering weigh heavily upon us?" and answers honestly questions about doubt, mystery, and the experience of not knowing. Wills offers insight for bringing biblical truth to life, wisdom to cultivate a listening heart, encouragement for the downhearted, reassuring words for the faltering, and comfort and rest for those in any stage of their faith journey.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.95
ardcover: 232 pages
Publisher: Brown Christian Press (May 2, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934812994
ISBN-13: 978-1934812990


Chapter 1 – Thin Places

Oswald Chambers in his book, Christian Disciplines, says that the “unexplained things in life are more than the explained.” I recall the time I flew to Phoenix to be present for the birth of my sister’s first child. Betsy is my baby sister, fourteen years younger than I am. I mothered her from the moment she was born. She was the flower girl in my wedding and she made me promise to step on every petal she threw on the floor. I was there as Betsy gave birth to her first child, a severely brain-damaged son, a son named Aaron. A baby was born. I grieved at the stillborn joy.

I recall standing in the hospital hall, peering into the nursery with my head and hands helplessly pressed against the glass. I remember back at her room standing at the head of her bed with my hand on her head while she kept repeating, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; I will run to it and be safe.” I grieved until I was sick. I wanted a miracle and not the trial. I beat down heaven’s door until Aaron died at age four and a half.

Aaron could never see, hear, or respond to anything except pain. At times he seemed to be a bundle of blank agony. Aaron had a bushy head of uncontrollable hair, and onto that head, his parents put earphones. Aaron heard music, and Aaron heard the Bible read through twice. When Aaron died, the Gift that pressure-tested our faith went to be with his Creator and his God, where he may have been all along. I went with Ed, Betsy’s husband, to select a cemetery plot. As we went out the door, Betsy said, “Find a tree.” The Lord gave us the last tree in that Arizona cemetery.
Aaron’s life and death raised questions. My faith had been challenged. Why didn’t God heal the firstborn of an “upright” man and a praying mother? Why didn’t God protect Aaron’s birth? Why does God heal some people and not others? I was not angry at God. I just wanted to understand. In seeking to understand, I realized that somehow I wanted God to prove Himself or be more predictable. God wanted me to know that I, a fallen child with a finite mind, will never comprehend His ways. He wanted me to know that He understands me and my wobbly faith.
When we ask why or say we don’t understand, we are reminded of the Last Supper when Jesus sat before His disciples with the bread and the wine and told them a mystery. He told them to eat the bread and drink the wine because it was His body poured out for them. He did not tell them to understand or to make sense of His strange request. He said, “Take and eat.” They did not understand. There is much we do not understand. The scriptures say God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are past understanding. But God says we can know Him. He longs to know us in a personal way. He invites us to contemplate His mysteries and to experience the power of His resurrection and the full measure of His grace.

Faith is a dynamic process. The endurance and strength that comes from pressure-tested faith does not come overnight. Betsy and Ed were not okay all of a sudden because they were Christians and loved the Lord. They grieved and questioned why and to what purpose this deep and lingering pain had been part of their lives. It was by faith they testified that the Most High God was their God. It was by faith they believed that He would lead them through the wilderness to His place of certain good and He would be a light for them in their “valley of the shadow of death” (Ps 23:4 NASB). In the process, from time to time, God gave Ed and Betsy small gifts of comfort, a small song of joy.

When Aaron died, Betsy and Ed were in Arkansas visiting me. My sister Shawn called saying she was at Betsy’s house because the caregiver had called to tell her Aaron was not doing well. Shawn, a nurse, went to check on Aaron. Then she called Aaron’s doctor and Betsy. About ten minutes later, Shawn called again. “Betsy, he’s gone.” I remember clearly the primordial sounds of parental grief.

We all immediately flew to Phoenix to prepare for a funeral. After the funeral, Betsy and Ed returned to Fort Smith to pick up their van and drive back to Arizona. Along the way, they stopped to eat. Isaac, their two-year-old son, was asleep. Not wanting to wake him, they parked the car in the front of the restaurant bay of windows so they could see him when he awoke. They had just sat down when Isaac popped up and Ed went to get him.

When he got settled in the high chair, he had a strange look on his face and Betsy asked him if he was all right. He said, “I just saw brudder.” Obviously, Isaac had a dream. “What was brother doing?” Betsy asked. “He was running and singing and playing,” Isaac replied. Isaac’s dream was a comfort, a reminder of what is truly real behind the veil. Every once in a while, God draws the curtain and lets us see. He gives us reminders that though we are tethered to this earth there is another realm of reality just as real. Every once in a while, He lifts the veil. He thins the space between heaven and earth. He lets us experience the “thin place.” He helps our faith.

Storm Exposed


A bruised reed He will not break

And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.

—Isaiah 42:3 NASB (italics added)



I feel like a flickering wick in the wind

I am poor in spirit and prone to stray

But You, O Lord, bless the poor in spirit

You say that Goodness and Mercy

Follow Your sheep, even when they wander

And You call them by name, even when they are lost

And they know Your voice, even

When they know nothing else.

Your voice is like a gentle, rolling thunder

It reminds me that my heart is deceitful

And the heart is the heart of the matter.

Unlock my self-guarded, reed-bent, broken, secret places

Dismantle my walls of self-deception

Search the deep resources of my being

Control the center and the corners of my mind

Let Your light shine, shine in a humbled heart.

Shine in this one who is poor in spirit,

Who perseveres under trial and

Whose faith is pressure-tested.

Prevail when my candle is storm-exposed

Raise up the fragile reed

When I bend beneath the gale.

Remind me of what I know:

God will not break a bruised reed

Or extinguish a flickering wick

God will stand between the wick and the wind

And lift up the one who bows beneath the load

God will ignite my flame again

I will shine as a Light in the night

I will shine and bless the poor in spirit.

Thin Places

In the Celtic tradition, a “thin place” is the place where the veil that separates heaven and earth is nearly transparent. It is a place where we experience a deep sense of God’s presence in our everyday world. A thin place is where, for a moment, the spiritual world and natural world intersect. There are moments when we do feel the divine breaking through into our world. We feel unified and connected with God. It is not an intellectual knowing, it is felt in the spirit. It can be a sudden momentary awareness or profound unexplainable experience. I would like to share a few “thin place moments” with you and encourage you to have eyes to see the gifts of thin places.

The phenomenon of a place where the physical and natural everyday world merges into a thin line is well rooted in biblical history, but it was the Celts who first gave the descriptive phrase “thin place” to it. I first understood the idea of thin places when I heard a minister from Tulsa speak to a group of ear, nose, and throat surgeons in Washington, D.C. His point was that he as a minister and they as physicians were in a unique and privileged position to witness “thin places” because both the physician and the clergy dealt in the realm of life and death. He gave an indelible example of one of his experiences.
He said he had been called to the hospital to pray for a dying woman who was in a deep coma. He went in and although she would not be able to know or respond to his presence, he went over and stood at the foot of her bed and prayed for her aloud. He began, “Our Father, who art in heaven . . .” About midway through the prayer, the woman, without waking up, began to join in with him: “Give us this day our daily bread . . .” She finished the prayer and died shortly thereafter. He knew he stood on the line of a thin place.

Another example was told to my husband and me by his senior partner when his wife died. She was in the hospital and the family had been called in because her death was imminent. As Charles and his two children sat by her side, she left her body in the early morning hours. Sherard, the daughter, said to her brother, “Chuck, did you see it?” He said, “What? I did not see anything.” She then asked, “Daddy, didn’t you see it?” He said, “No, baby, I didn’t see anything.” She said, “Just as mother died, I saw a mist rise from mother’s body, float to the ceiling, and disappear.” Sherard witnessed a thin place.
Thin places come in different ways and some can be subtle. I call them “Garden of Eden moments” because they remind me of the way things must have been in the Garden of Eden when the earth was perfect and at peace. I think we have all experienced them, kind of a time of unified joy. The bounty and beauty of nature can bring such joy: a sunrise or sunset, the coming of spring, or a deep winter snow.

Moments of a unified spirit can also come within relationships. One such Garden of Eden moment came when Paul and I went to Disneyworld with our children and grandchildren. After a long day of activity at the park, we headed back to our hotel room on the bus. Paul was sitting next to me with his arm around the back of the seat touching my shoulder. Across from us were our two sons and their wives, talking quietly and content with each other. Their children were curled up, lying in their laps and cradled in the crook of their arms. For one brief moment, I experienced the way it must have been in the Garden of Eden when peace and joy ruled, when all was perfect and everything was the way it should be.
We all have moments of thin places. They are holy places if we just pay attention and let our spirits see. Elizabeth Barrett Browning said:

Earth’s crammed with heaven

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.

I believe I had a less than subtle thin place experience when I went back to graduate school. Most days, I drove seventy miles to northwest Arkansas to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Early on, almost every day, I would wonder what my brain was thinking when I began this task. My brain was rusty, and besides, I was driving a stretch of mountain road that was known for death-producing accidents. I remember questioning if this had anything to do with God’s will for my life. I reasoned that I could be using my time doing something more for Him or more beneficial to others.

Then one day I was coming out of a history class and heading across campus. I was somewhat protected under my umbrella but the rain was coming down in sheets and I was wading through puddles of standing water trying to navigate to my next class. When I was almost there, I saw a young man under a tree, sitting on a bench. His umbrella was propped up beside him, and despite the shelter of the tree, he was getting soaked. His clothes were wet and he sat with his wet head in his hands, sobbing, his shoulders shaking hard.

I slowed down and sloshed across the muddy grass and went over to him. I asked, “Can I help you?” He shook his head no. I thought about just walking away, leaving him to his private moment. But I stood there a second and said, “Can I pray for you?” He nodded yes. I placed my hand on his shoulder and said a very short prayer. He never moved, never looked up. He just said, “Thank you.”

I walked off and left the young man on the bench in the pouring rain. When I arrived at my building and headed up the steps, I turned around to look at him once again. He was gone. I did not see him walking away. He was just gone. I turned and walked to my class. But I was mystified. My thoughts were, Where did he go? Then I wondered if maybe he was an angel. Then I thought, Maybe I was his angel? I did not know. All I knew was that I had experienced a special moment that had a meaning, a thin place.
As I thought about the experience, the Lord began to speak. He reminded me that His work is everywhere, and everywhere we are, in every situation, He has plans for us if we have eyes to see. God reminded me He is not just in some planned “spiritual” activity but He is in the everyday sacred mundane of our appointed days.

It is in the flatlands of our everyday routine that we need to remember our thin places. We need to be aware that God has spoken and still speaks. Remembering is one of our greatest challenges. We forget too easily.
C.S. Lewis addresses this tendency to forget in The Chronicles of Narnia. In the book The Silver Chair, Aslan, the Christ figure, sends Jill and her friend Eustace on a mission. The last words Aslan speaks to Jill as he sends her on her journey is about remembering the signs or spiritual truths and heeding a warning not to forget what she learned on the mountain:

Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly. I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.

—C. S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

We are graced with thin moments from time to time, some profound, some subtle. They sneak up on us. So let us keep our eyes open for the gifts of the thinning of the veil as we walk on the mountains. And then let us remember the truths in the flatlands and in the valleys.