• An Unexpected Dip

    I took a trip this past week. The river brings assorted treasure to my shoreline each spring as the snow melts away. This week, a long tree floated up and attached itself to my dock. I grabbed a shovel and walked out with my son. I gave the log a gentle nudge. It easily slid down the parallel line toward the end of the dock. It also easily moved away from the dock when I gave it a little push out. I realized a bit late that there was nothing holding me. Down went the shovel. And oops, down I went. I surfaced to my shout of my son’s concern, spitting out a mouthful of water.

    “That tasted better than I thought,” I managed to quip around a cough.

    He pulled off my glasses placed them off to the side and tried to pull me over the log, back up onto the dock. My flailing arms, trying to find a grip, gave my specs a good knock and they joined the shovel below.

    I had a bit of a challenge getting my son to agree to let go of his hold on me so I could swim out on my own. Providentially, I had pulled on my winter coat as a bit of protection from the northern breeze, it puffed with air and was a good float.  

    As I sloshed my way back up to the house, I was reminded how sometimes we have unexpected adventures. I’m sure I can use this as a warning to be more careful, and perhaps consider it a baptism for the next part of my journey. (insert chuckle here)

    Lessons learned:

    Things are replaceable. I lost a good pair of glasses and a shovel.

    And what seems catastrophic can actually be amusing in the end. I knew I was fine the moment I surfaced… embarrassed, but fine. Heart hugs for my son who had lost his dad a year prior and had the shock of watching his mother drop off into the (not so) deep.

    And learning new things: like how to care for my magnetic dock, that attracts all kinds of floating items, is challenging. So wisdom, like having someone near-by to pull you out of a jam, is imperative.

    Well, keeping a good sense of humor helps too. After all, someone must take the first dip of the year.

    Enjoy today’s chuckle… all at my expense.

    Blessings,

    Debbie G

    Today’s wisdom brought to you by: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

    Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

  • What He Saw

    I wonder what Jesus saw as he was lifted into the highest place, hanging from a cross on the hill, oh Golgotha. All eyes were on him, this man who claimed one-ship with God.

    His friends had fled during the altercation the evening before. Now beaten and whipped, he was adorned with a piercing crown of thorns. Spit upon, to the chants of ‘Crucify him’ from the gathering crowd.

    Just what did Jesus see from his unique perch hanging between two thieves?

    Did he see the worried people who had followed him for years? Or those he had healed from affliction? How about the people just going about their day, like Simon of Cyrene, who were swept into viewing this spectacle by the pressing throng? Did he see the glint of pleasure in the temple leaders’ eyes as his life blood drained away? Could he hear the soldiers gambling for his clothing or talking about their plans at the end of their work day?

    The hot sun baked his naked form as the day progressed. With each minute that passed his lungs begged for air as his hunched shoulders compressed his chest. And as he raised himself for another breath, his full weight pressed against his nail pierced feet. Pure agony.

    Near the end of these hours, he spoke to his mother and a few brave friends with words of care. His final words were to the realm unseen, speaking to his Father in heaven. After asking God to forgive these people who didn’t know what they were doing, he gave up his spirit, placing himself into God’s hands.

    Had I been there that day I’d like to think I would have been in that small cluster of faithful friends, but I often wonder if instead I’d have been one of the crowd chanting, ‘Crucify him.’

    Or maybe I would have stood afar hoping he’d perform a miracle, like the ones I had witnessed, and that he would save himself.

    But of this one thing, I am certain, that from his place on high he stared across time, and he saw me. He saw every person that would seek Him, and then He gave of himself to open the doorway to heaven for all who believe.

    Forgive me, Jesus. I do believe.

    (a repeat from 2020)

    ~Debbie G

    John 19

    #GoodFriday #WhatHeSaw #HeSawMe

     

  • Love Invaded

    With our children, it’s always about the ‘why’. Our littles are trying to piece together the world through our answers. So, in raising kids we endure a season where every statement is followed by a question. In a way, it’s good that they trust us and are digging for deeper understanding.

    I adopted five kids from foster care. And in raising these little ones, there was one moment I’ll not forget, I was explaining how babies grew in their mother’s belly. And when I further explained that it was in their natural mother’s belly, my little one responded with a sorrowful whine, ‘but I wanted to grow in your belly.’

    For the most part though, the longing these children had for their natural parents was never far from the surface. Unable to understand that sometimes people just aren’t in a place where they can raise the children they love. There was a place inside them that I could touch, but never fill, not unless they chose to let me in.

    We too can get stuck, focusing on what we don’t have. Thinking that we must have done something to cause life to change so abruptly. Wondering how to navigate through new situations or challenges.

    I lost my husband near the end of 2021. Life for me has changed a lot since then. As I was sitting in church on Sunday, I realized I had moved out of my quiet contemplative state and was easily conversing- connecting with people again. It wasn’t that grief had disappeared, but that somehow love had invaded the void, and I was healing.

    Looking back at where I had been, I imagine myself a caterpillar that out of necessity had spun a chrysalis. And for a season I had been readjusting inside. Now, breaking free. I’m outside again, airing these new wings.

    And in drawing close to my Heavenly Father, I’ve allowed Him not only to touch, but to fill my empty space with Himself. I find I am stronger in many ways, and I trust that when the wind is right, He’ll point me in the best direction, and I will fly again.

    Healing hugs,

    Debbie G

    #butterflywings #healinghearts #gettingthroughgrief #why #emptyspaces

  • Healing Touches

    ‘Indelible,’ a rarely used word today, yet a profoundly intimate one. It means we’ve made a mark.

    Left an impression. We’re not easily forgotten. There’s power in that.

    In life, we don’t start out with a concrete plan or an idea of where we’ll end up. Side-winding our way forward as opportunities arise is the norm. Each decision affecting the next step in our journey.

    As I was writing my recently released novel, my personal life was balanced, not always an even flow in my family stream, but I was not often overwhelmed, like we find the main character, Elizabeth, in my book. A stressed-out ER nurse, in a full-blown panic attack.

    I began writing this book almost ten years ago. Long before our current state of medical staffing shortages, and record number of high anxiety with the inability to do more than survive the day. The long hours and stress management have always been the bane of the medical field. Add to it the overwhelming sense of ‘battle’. Your life is on the line in this ‘tour of duty.’ (No offense those in military service. I believe this is a definite parallel in the level stress induced.) It has brought the medical community to a breaking point. So many seasoned providers have changed course. So, how can broken people move forward in strength?

    In one of the pivotal scenes in my book, Elizabeth is found chatting with the cemetery caretaker, Kenneth Greyson. He says to her, ‘Some people leave an indelible impression and others only a wisp of a shadow… and you, my dear, have left many indelible impressions.’

    I believe we’ve forgotten how to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes. And the way forward is by getting back to the basics. Remembering that each life touches another. When this man, the ‘Guardian of the Markers’, took time to invest in this young woman she was able to start piecing together a way forward, toward healing. Someone found her valuable.

    I received a moving testimony this week from a woman who was reading my book and encountered a stressed-out medical employee at her doctor’s office. She connected the character in my book with this young woman and reached out to her in love. She offered kind words and prayer. The result was an overwhelming release of the worker’s tension, frustration, and tears. All because one person could ‘see her.’ Someone recognized her inner pain and reached out in love.

    Our lives intersect with others… may our touch be indelible.

    Blessings,

    Debbie G

    #softtouch #gentleanswer #walkinlove #stressed #healing

  • Treasured Memories

    Written in 2021. I hope this will minister to others facing difficulties.

     My husband was hospitalized. Intubated because his lungs weren’t able to pull in enough oxygen. I visited him daily. If you’ve never been to an intensive care, it is for the truly sick. He was given medication to allow his body to battle the raging attack on his system, ‘asleep’ on a ventilator for more than a week.

    The hospital was gracious in reducing his medication during my visits so we could interact. However, I soon discovered the downside to this medication was memory loss. At about day nine, they switched his medication to one that allowed him to be cognizant. He was shocked to discover that he had lost weeks of his life. Without recall of our conversations, my visits, or my comfort and support, he awakened to a room with a wall of family photos and several reports on his medical status.

    Oh boy, did he have questions… many written notes. When he came to a place of understanding the overwhelming battle that he was facing, I could see discouragement in his eyes. So, I began to search my memory bank of the fun things we had done together. In his isolated room, to the rhythm of the beeping machines, I wove our memories back into the forefront of his brain. No longer battling his frustration at this current turn of events that was beyond his control, he now lingered over the adventures of our history together. And when I paused too long between stories he wrote on his dry erase board, ‘more memories.’

    Medically, I was unable to help my husband, but God gave me this gift of time to be with him. I too had to let go of many things. Things out of my control, including my frustration at his inability to remember our interactions of the past month. But as revisiting the good times helped him, it also helped me, to focus on what I did have today. That he could be with me mentally, right now, in this moment. That I had the privilege of being able to transport him away from the swishing noise of his ventilator to places where we had enjoyed life together. We were on family trips, laughing at our children’s antics, and dancing in our kitchen to the music in our heads. And when the day was over, we had shared many smiles, and I got to enjoy his silent laughs.

    And as I walked the long, lonely hallway on my way back to my car, I was grateful. Even if he didn’t remember this day, I would. I was learning to count my days and to hold precious memories as the treasure that they are.

    Blessings,

    Debbie G

    Whatever is pure, lovely, praise-worthy-Philippians 4:8

    Comfort one another- 1 Thessalonians 4:18

    #lettinggo #countingblessings #comfortothers #walkingthelonghallway #truetreasures

  • Stepping Out in Style

    Pedicures. Never had one, but I can say after a long day on my feet that a cleansing foot massage would be glorious. But to be sure, I wouldn’t treat it as I would a car wash. I’d arrive with clean feet.

    So, I wondered what’s up with Jesus spending his final hours with his disciples by washing their feet? And the crazy tidbit thrown into the mix is that Jesus knew that Judas (one of his hand-picked followers) planned to betray him, and he washed his feet anyway. Now that’s some self-control.

    We read that Jesus wrapped a towel around himself and must have knelt at their feet with a basin of water. Picture Jesus kneeling at twelve individual men’s feet. Dusty, dirty appendages that he touched personally. Imagine their thoughts as they waited for their turn. As Jesus washed and dried, he listened to Simon’s rebuke, “No, you’ll never wash my feet,” and Jesus’s response changed Simon’s ‘never’ to wanting more: “then also wash my hands and my head.”

    Jesus clearly stated that all need to be cleansed by Me. This experience was not only an example in humility, but it was also preparation for the journey ahead. Their job going forward would be to make disciples. Time consuming work. Jesus washed 24 feet on his last night of freedom and that took time. Probably not what we’d choose to do if we knew it would be our last night here on earth.

    Jesus went to the place of ‘further still’. Yes, this was ministry work. They already knew hardships. But it was also the dirty work, the intimate work, and in a few hours, they’d understand more fully that it was the sacrificial work that he calls all followers to.

    Now, a pedicure involves much more than foot cleansing… it is truly digging deeper, rounding off the rough spots, trimming away sharp edges, and finally massaging moisturizers into the skin. Just like the walk of faith does in our lives. We root out misunderstood passages, prejudices, and pride by drawing close to the Teacher.

    Jesus taught that all people are worthy of God’s love regardless of their lives, actions, or choices. No person is ‘too far gone’ to offer the hope of salvation, not even one’s ‘enemies.’

    And like Mary who anointed Jesus’s feet with a year’s worth of nard, (fragrant oil) Jesus was fitting their feet to go into all the earth with the gospel of peace.

    We walk in love best when we’re willing to get a little dirty.

    Blessings,

    Debbie G

     

    John 13: Jesus washing feet.

    John 12:3: Mary’s anointing.

    Ephesians 6:15: Feet fitted with the gospel of peace.

    Matthew 28:19 Make disciples of all nations.

    #pedicure #footwashing #nevertoofargone #walkinginlove

  • Dreams and Pauses

    Dreams, they’re personal and reveal depths we sometimes have to grapple with. I will admit, I am a dreamer. Having lived in a busy household for decades means that I processed a lot while I slept.

    Answers to issues, personal failings, or the direction needed to proceed came in the early morning waking hours… in my quiet times of reflection or through a dream. I’ve had so many dreams that I now log them in a ‘dream journal.’

    Lately though, I’ve been in a season of rest. Perhaps you could label it regrouping or pondering, but in essence it’s me waiting for direction. It’s the ‘what’s next, Lord’ question.

    Sometimes I get a clear answer like ‘go here and do this.’ Other times the answer comes in circumstances unforeseen. And although I know God is working in these pauses, I’m anxious to get-on-with-it.

    Do you ever wonder what is He doing in these pauses? I suspect that whatever lies ahead may need skills I’m to be building now or perhaps strengthening ones that I already possess. So, while I work on retaining what I know, I look for open doors. Discernment is needed before entering any door though, for not every door is open for my benefit.

    My current dreams are motion related perhaps indicating that I may be ready for the next part of my journey. Do I have any dreamer friends out there? Remember that Joseph was a dreamer, and it took about twenty years of hardship for his dream to be realized. I’ll encourage you with the thought that God can speak to us in many ways. And not every dream is a direction dream, but it may be. As we prayerfully wait, we can trust that this time of preparation will help us in whatever challenges lie ahead.

    Keep on doing what you know is right to do, and He’ll get you on your way soon enough. He leads, He directs, He guides… and it’ll bear fruit all in His perfect timing.

    And trust that pauses are part of His plan. You can rest in that. 

    Blessings,

    Debbie G

     

    Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

    Genesis 37 The story of Joseph the dreamer.

    #rest #pause #dreams #SeasonsOfRest #trustthepause

  • Savoring

    In many ways I’m a creature of habit. I like my day to start with hot black coffee. My breakfast routine is fairly consistent- eggs and veggies. And I try to stick to not-eating between meals. So, why am I so focused on food this morning? Because I also am learning to slow down.

    In my busy years, (raising 7 that I homeschooled) life came at a hectic pace. My early hour alone was my place of sanity. And many times, we were eating on the fly as we traveled to sports practices, a music lesson or dropping someone off at work. Needless to say, our meals weren’t always healthy nor leisurely.

    The past few months I’ve also been pondering gratitude, which brings me to this morning’s breakfast, but first let me back up a bit to a season pre-kids. I accepted an invitation to an extravagant dinner. A place where men were given a suit coat to wear if they showed up in too casual an attire for the ambience.

    If having someone redressed behind you wasn’t uncomfortable enough, having the waiter lay a cloth napkin on your lap, and checking in at least twice during each serving certainly added to my unrest. Every course was followed by fresh water ‘to cleanse your palate.’

    Unfortunately, the European-trained chef that showcased his remarkable skills fell on my ‘meat and potatoes’ appetite. Two hours and seven courses later, was enough for me to realize that I didn’t feel ‘polished’ enough to visit such a fancy establishment.

    Now, back to this morning’s breakfast. My simple fare of eggs and veggies that fills my belly is more my style, but as I remembered that ‘refined meal’ from years ago I realized that the experience also entailed slowing down to appreciate the combination of textures.

    So, this morning, I did that. I paused, savoring each bite. Which allowed me to experience the separate flavors. The pepper, the light coating of cheddar cheese, the various veggies. Unlike the busy years of child raising, I can now slowly chew on these morsels, grateful for not only the provision, but for this season of quiet. A place where hurry is being undone.

    I am reminded that God too, offers us His Word in great chunks. Paragraphs, chapters, and books… How do I un-hurry here? Like that meal of long ago, I can nibble a one verse, savoring the various nuances and parallels. Who is this verse talking to? I take a few moments to hunt down the answer by looking up the references.  Great, now how can I apply this in my life today? By mentally slowing down and releasing what I think I already know, this pause ‘cleanses my palate’ so God can expand my taste buds with a fresh experience.

    Who knows that today’s morsel might turn into a two-hour meal, but now I can appreciate the Master Chef’s recipes. I’m not concerned with embarrassing my companion with my lack of finesse or inappropriate etiquette for He accepts me as I am. Each ingredient He adds and every course He presents is leading me to the grand finale. Where I will stand in appreciation for the refinement He is now doing in me.

    Bon Appetit,

    Debbie G

    Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8

    #eggs #slowdown #savor #tasteandsee #cleanseyourpalate

  • My Strength

    I felt an impression this morning to read from the book of Isaiah and my thought was, Oh no, I don’t like Isaiah. It’s full of judgment. I just didn’t want to start my day off with sadness. I found myself complaining as I opened to chapter 12 and began to read. Thanks to the Lord, he turned from his anger and comforted me. God is my song and strength. I will trust and not fear. God is my salvation.

    I took a deep breath and read on about drawing from his well and singing his praises. Which then moved to shouting with joy for the Lord is in your midst.

    I paused and chided myself for grumbling. “God, I love Isaiah!”

    I am reminding myself to not fear (or whine) when he leads me to read difficult passages. It’ll take working through hard places for me to reach the end of my story here on earth. And so often, like today, I am humbled by his compassion as he leads me to inspiring verses to start my day.

    I will trust, and not fear for he is my strength and my song. Hoping you find strength for this day.

    Blessings,

    Debbie

    #MyStrength #MorningDevotion

  • The Power of Touch

     

    We sat silently together my hand in hers for the longest time. Her husband had died, and I had no words. I’m not sure how long it was that we sat there as I listened to a clock ticking in a nearby room. Suddenly she came to herself and said, “Thank you.”

    Call it friendship. Call it empathy. But it’s beyond words, it is the power of touch.

    We touch with words, “Thank you.” “You’re the best!” “I love you.”

    We touch with actions. Bringing homemade soup to a sick associate. Grabbing a meal in a bag for a homeless person. Raking a neighbor’s leaves.

    We touch without even knowing it. Passing someone crying on a bench. Hurrying past a disabled car on the roadside without calling for roadside assistance. Mindlessly letting the door close behind us into the face of someone else.

    This reminds me of a story in Luke. ‘Just who is my neighbor?’ a lawyer asked Jesus. And as the story unwinds, we see a half-dead man lying on the side of the road being ignored by two presumably holy men. One a rabbi and the other a Levite (one who cleans the temple). The third, an enemy from a rival town decided he couldn’t just leave him there to die. He poured healing oil on him, bound his wounds, and brought him to safety. Even paying the hotel debt.

    Jesus made it clear that this neighbor thing was more than looking for ‘a neighbor’, it was about being a neighbor.  It wasn’t only caring about but caring for someone else. It’s an action. It’s moving to help when assistance is needed.

    We read in Hebrews, that Jesus was not only a rabbi, but that he is our Great High Priest. And if you consider that before we knew him, we were in essence his enemies. Thus, our Rabbi, our High Priest, the one who could consider us an enemy, found us in our woeful state and tended to our needs. Pouring the oil of salvation in our open wounds. Covering our bodies with His robe of righteousness, and He paid our insurmountable debt of sin at the cross. No matter how we look at this parable, Jesus owed us nothing, yet gave us His all.

    The choice is ours: we can walk in love or throw our hurts around like knives. We can tap our toes at the long check-out line, or we can pray for the harried clerk as we wait patiently.

    It may be difficult to set aside fears and frustrations, but making the most of our moments makes our lives richer. If the Great Shepherd walked and served in empathy and compassion, can’t we?  If the Holiest of all Rabbis willingly left the ninety-nine in the temple to minister the one in dire need. What are we willing to do?

    Sometimes all that is needed is to hold a hand. But joining people in their hard places can heal their deepest hurts. It may be uncomfortable and it’s always a sacrifice, but they’ll never forget it. And neither will you.

    Praying for you in your journey, my neighbors and friends. 

    Blessings,

    Debbie G

     

    Hebrews 4:14 Jesus, our great high priest.

    2 Corinthians 1:4 Comfort those in any trouble.

    Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

    Hebrews 10:34 Stimulate one another to love and good deeds.

    Luke 10:29 Who is my neighbor?

  • Broken Wings

    She was only about twelve inches tall, but she spoke to me, and I bought her. Placing her atop my writing area, I hoped that perhaps my words would flow like her long flowing robe.

    I loved that she held her heart outside her chest, evident that she held nothing back. She offered love to all who came her way. And as she gave it, her heart enlarged making room for more love.

    And how my own heart lurched when she teetered and fell, breaking into pieces. So many pieces… I wasn’t sure she could be repaired. Life was busy then; I placed her broken form back above my writing space and shoved the pieces aside. There she sat for five years until I noticed her again today.

    One wing missing. Her base broken and leaning against the books there on the shelf. Missing pieces. What to do with my broken angel? With so many broken places in life could I just let this broken thing go? I looked at her again… she was beyond repair, yet I still loved her.

    Now grounded, she could only touch those nearby, but her spirit wasn’t compromised. In her leaning, she found strength in those nearby that supported her. Somehow, in her fragmented state, the bonds of friendship grew stronger.

    I lean closer, I see that her heart hasn’t been touched… still complete, unchanged. Out in the open, holding all that she loves close to her chest.

    I took her down off her long-standing spot… and dusted her off. Then gently replaced her on her perch, overlooking my words. She is a reminder that there is beauty no matter how broken. And if you can no longer fly, you can still love.

    Remember to love…

    Blessings,

    Debbie G