Archive for the ‘Walking with God’ Category

I love to look at the stats of what people are reading here at itsawonderfilledlife.

Recently, I have noticed that a post from March of 2020, titled Whatever … has been read frequently over the Christmas season and especially surrounding the new year. It has nothing to do with either, yet, I just had to go back and re-read my words.

The post is about what we think, where we spend our thinking and is focused on Philippians 4:8-9:

” … brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

hum … maybe this post had more to do with a new year than I had realized.

What was fascinating to me is that I had, personally, been working on controlling my thoughts, changing my focus when my thoughts begin to spiral into fearful ‘what if’ scenarios.

Switching from what if to this, whatever focus of thinking is really good for me.

whatever is :

  • lovely
  • true
  • noble
  • right
  • pure
  • lovely
  • admirable
  • excellent
  • praiseworthy

These nine words of focus are fantastic and I could see how they could be life-changing. But … they are not the end.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.


  • learned from me
  • received from me
  • heard from me
  • seen in me

… put it into practice.

“DO IT, like I do it” – Jesus

It is the biblical reality of WWJD (what would Jesus do?), except it is WDJD (what did Jesus do?).

The way Jesus lived, his character, choices, words and prayers … they are our Nike-like slogan for Just Do It … like Jesus did.

He should be our focus … when he isn’t … I am finding that it is then that my focus is blurry.


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What I didn’t know a year ago …

The events and happenings and changes that I simply could not have imagined a year ago today.

I think I had thought, in the past, that walking into a new year is like having the double doors open to a large room, but, as I look at this year and all that I could not have imagined, I think it might be more like having hiked up a mountain (a generous description of 2021), only to stand at the precipice unable to see the bottom.

I look at the events of this past year in our own lives and how much we were unaware of, one year ago.

We moved … not just house but whole community. We experienced changes in employment, health, finances, relationships. Things we could not have seen from the high point of a New Years Day. Things that might have had us wondering about leaping into that new year.

I bet I am not alone in this.

There was a moment a couple of months ago, when something unexpected happened. I think if it had happened on January 1, 2021 it might have crushed me/us. But, we had experienced years of surprises (good and bad) and we had to relearn to put our trust in God alone.


when this unexpected surprise was placed in our laps,

my first reaction was

to shrug my shoulders,

to lift my eyes up,

and speak,

out loud,

ok God,

so what are you gonna do with that?

And I realized something … I realized something important, something new … I didn’t let the problem land on my shoulders, not even for a moment … for I knew that God has a plan and He already has a solution. And, even if His solution were to cause discomfort, pain … He won’t leave us alone, but will be with us every step of the way.

The surprises of the last years, the moments of standing at the cliffs, wondering how far we will fall (and how intense the injuries that would be sustained) they have taught me … God has a plan, He is in control, we must rely on Him. That his mercies are new every morning. That He will not abandon us.

And so, as we sit down and look at this clean sheet of a new year …

As we plan and dream and set goals …

May our first goal be to awaken each day, with a fresh commitment to reliance on God.

So that, when the tough stuff happens (and … it will people), we already have the muscle memory to give it straight back to Him.

” … his mercies begin afresh each morning.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
    to those who search for him.”

Lamentations 3:23-25

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When we think about sin, what does our mind conjure?

For me, it’s murder, abuses, lies, hate.

I am not exactly sure why, but I have been thinking about sin while packing up the belongings of our house. Actually, my thoughts have been about the value of the ‘things’ we choose to pack up to take with us through the next threshold of our life.

Thinking of and giving value to these ‘things’ is like a mirror into my soul.

There are things I have put aside, for the thrift store. Then there are the things I position into a box, concerned only with Tetris-like precision to make the most of every bit of space. Then there are the things I wrap … in paper, in bubble wrap … then I clearly label on five sides of the box FRAGILE and place it somewhere safe … so that nothing can crush it.

Fragile … what is really fragile in my life? What needs to be carefully, meticulously wrapped to prevent harm? What do I value most?

If you love anything in this world more than God, you will crush that object under the weight of your expectations.

Tim Keller

When I view something in life (not just in packing) of more value than God,

where is my focus?
where do my thoughts lite?
who do I hold responsible for the safety of that ‘thing’? person?

These are the most humbling questions to answer, for their answers are found buried in my heart.

When I live valuing something, but more often someone, ahead of God, my value is on them, not Him. My thoughts are concentrated on it/them. And it is me who I hold responsible for the safety of it/them.

This valuing another more than God is, quite simply, the sin of idolatry. I am making an idol of anything or anyone who I value more than God.

I, in all my humanness cannot keep another safe. I am like a moving box filled with my cast iron pans, heavy and awkward. Like those boxes with heavy objects my hovering around and above to keep them ‘safe’ can result in my crushing that fragile treasure.

There is one who is best equipped for such care … and it isn’t me.

Only God has the tender touch and the ability to lift what is fragile to safety.

Our sin of idolatry needs to be looked at closely. We are not loving another if we are not loving sacrificially … and the best way to love sacrificially is to hand that which we hold close, back to the One who loves them more.

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A dark and rainy Sunday, snug on the sofa, soaking in the Swindoll sermon, with steam coming from my tea cup.

Not a bad sabbath day, if you ask me.

Can you tell I love alliteration? Sentences filled with words that begin with the same letter or sound … it’s like music to my ears.

I love listening to a speaker who makes melody with their message, who turns simple sentences into poetry that not only shares a message, but also sings to my soul.

I think that is partly why I have always loved listening to the teaching of Chuck Swindoll. It also because he speaks the truth … with heaps of love. As the sermon finished I said, aloud,

I love how he preaches with a constant smile, with ample grace. There is never guilt piled on the listener, yet … I am always convicted by his message to do better, live better, love more.

This Sunday was not different. A study in Habakkuk. A reminder that God can handle hearing our pleas, our complaints, our whining. A reminder that God always listens to us. And that he answers. God’s answer to this prophet was not good news to Habakkuk’s ears. This too was a reminder … God’s plans are not just about the now, but the big picture that only He can see.

At the end of the message, Chuck gave five statements to “embrace as we claim faith in our sovereign God”. These were the application, the message in the message, the truths to hold on to.

  1. God is able, I am not
  2. God knows what is best, I do not
  3. God sees the end from the beginning, I cannot
  4. God should have His way in this, I should not
  5. God must be glorified through this, I must not

This message is better than any I could share. It is one I will be ruminating on for days. I just might contact my beautiful lettering friend, to see if she could make a little music with her markers and create a hanging reminder of this symphony of words for me and my house.

Chuck’s sermon is embedded below in the video. If you just want to hear the entire sermon part of the service, start it at 33:35, or, if you just wish to hear his five statements (a sermon in themselves), start at 1:15:40 (to 1:23:30 … the best 8 minutes of your day!).

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I have a love-hate relationship with surprises … I hate to be confronted with surprises, but I love to plan them for others.

The other day I got to surprise a couple of people and it was such fun (at least it was for me). Their reactions were unplanned, without the filters that give us the ‘right’ words to say.

I remember, many years ago, when I was having a milestone birthday. We had booked a sitter for our daughter and went out to a nice restaurant for dinner. When we arrived back home, just before entering our house, I looked over to him and said, “thanks so much for not planning a surprise birthday party, because I really hate surprises” … lets just say, his face said it all … I gulped and opened the door to (you guessed it) a house full of people.

That was an undesired surprise, but then there are other surprises that are simply bad. When a loved one dies, a job is lost, a dark secret or a lie revealed. Those surprises can crush a person, changing the trajectory of life.

The thing is, every surprise we encounter is old news to God. He knows the good, the bad and the ugly that is coming in our lives. He knows the resources that we will need for the surprises to come.

That’s not to say that we actually choose to use or rely on those resources, but he has provided them. As a matter of fact the resource of peace through the Spirit is there for those who choose to accept that in our lives. He is never pushy, but there for our taking … if we so choose.

For those of us who have chosen, it is unfathomable to consider living this life, with all of it’s surprises, without the assurance that we do not have to face them on our own.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it.

Isaiah 43:19

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If you drive or bike by me while I am out for a walk, you will most likely see a woman, face forward, moving at a fast clip that ensures that the wonder-dog is in full panting mode. A brisk pace from beginning to end is what my daily walks are all about. I have a destination to reach and that is the end of the walk.

That’s me … the purpose driven walker.

For a few months there’s been a niggling in the back of my mind concerning these daily scurries around my hood. It has been poking me more and more until I finally had to admit the challenge being presented to me …

how about a slow, meandering walk for a change?

It is a bit embarrassing to admit that it took me months to try this out.

Finally, a couple weeks back, as I tied my runners I determined that my canine buddy and I would challenge the idiom about a dog and a new trick.

We wandered. paused. looked left. and right. and even turned back a few times. we stopped to watch the sheep nibbling on grass. we watched the gentle wind send the trees swaying overhead. we listened to the birds songs. checked out flowers, and shrubs. we breathed slow, deep.

Our walk took double the time we normally walk. We wandered, and lingered, and ambled and dawdled, and maybe even dilly dallied just a bit.

And, you know what?

it was pure delight!

There was no drive, no purpose, other than to enjoy the very moment we were in.

This slower pace may just become a more regular way to walk.

the one who acts hastily makes poor choices.

Proverbs 19:2b

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For a few days now, my daily walk has not been accompanied by podcasts of messages by a couple of my favorite Christian preachers, but music.

The music is a bit different from much of my playlist, for the songs are long (like 7-8 minutes long, each one), with much repetition of lines in the songs. When I slip in my headphones and tie up my runners I am transported to the most beautiful sanctuary of worship within the beauty of the natural creation.

This daily, solo, worship service has facilitated my expressions of trust, love and hope in God alone. It has enabled me to escape the the me centered world I live, and live in. I can spend my walk time focused on the One who is really in control, the One who is always faithful, always with me.

And He alone deserves praise.

One of the worship songs that I have been using as a vehicle for my walking worship is the Doxology (praise God from whom all blessings flow).

It was written in 1674, by Thomas Ken, who had a fascinating life with positions in church leadership that had him mixing with the likes of Princess Mary (later Queen), King Charles 2 (and his mistress) as well as King James 2, whose Declaration of Indulgence, Thomas refused to read in church … and spent some time in the Tower of London.

His doxology was not printed publicly until after his death.

And today, over 300 years later, his penned praise to God is still sung, in cathedrals, churches, and along the paths and sidewalks of the Pacific Northwest.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

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Are you an if/then person?

You know, one of those who sees and seeks understanding of conditions and results.

I am, most naturally an if/then person.

If I study hard, then I will achieve high marks.

If I work with all my might, then I will be successful in my job.

If I sow good things, then I will reap good things.

The thing is … life isn’t always that predictable and it most certainly does not come with guarantees.

We live our lives as mere mortals, among mere mortals, in a fallen, sin-saturated world. Therefore, conditions and results do not always line up.

Students who study hard fail exams. Hard working people lose their jobs. We can sow good things in and around us and reap only that which is bitter.

These are the realities of living in this world.

Yet, this does not mean that we proceed through our days and lives with our knuckles dragging on the ground. Even when the if/thens of our life have faulty results, there can be joy.

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

There is a strength that comes, irregardless of circumstances, if/then failures and failed conditions. It is a strength that comes from choosing joy … but not just any joy. It is a joy that we skin-covered souls can only experience and achieve from one source … it is a joy that comes from familiarity with God.

When we look at the failures, pains and destructions in our lives compared with the love and mercy and redemption available to us in Christ … we have true joy at our disposal.

If we choose Christ, then we will have joy in Him … though all around us might fall.

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It’s early on a Sunday morning, of a long weekend, that marks the end of summer in so many ways.

I hear the Wonder dog shake his sleep from his head, then the wet of his tongue on my arm, hanging over the side of the bed. Blech!

I reach to the other side of the bed, empty. This summer has been one of trading places. He often rising before me. So I tap his side of the bed, the known invitation for my buddy to leap up onto the bed with me. I sense him searching, sniffing and looking for my face to lick. It’s his way of saying, hey lady, I don’t have indoor cammode, I need to let out for my relief.

I lift the covers higher, turning to the other side, my face safe from his slobbery expression of love … ok, it’s really his urgency to get me to let him out, but I am the interpreter of this dog.

He settles, a loud sigh, fully communicating his impatience.

I open only one eye, gauging the time of day by the light peeking around the curtains and the sounds of cars passing by. I reckon it is near six. I relax, sleep calling me back to it’s magical place.

This is so odd for me, this slow morning wake up. I can recall mornings as a child, awakening in my childhood bedroom, sun peeking in around the window blinds and my heartbeat racing to start the day. I would leap out of bed, afraid to miss out on one moment of the day (especially if it was a weekend or holiday).

Rise! Shine! Your new day is dawning. The glory of the LORD shines brightly on you.

Isaiah 60:1

That verse describes my typical morning awakening so well. It is as if I had an urgency to start the day. The time on the clock is redundant, it could be 6am, or 4:30am (eye roll). Either way, once my lungs have taken in the deep morning breath, sleep is no more, for I know that my calling is to be awake.

That is similar to the call in Isaiah. Though it were written to Jerusalem, it applies to each of us. We cannot bring the light of dawn, for it is this morning light that is our light. Another way to say it is that we have no light within us, except for the light that God gives. Sure, we might be able to muddle around, using our human instincts, but without the light that comes from Christ, we are not seeing clearly.

The thing is, our walking in the dark, we have chosen this. We chose to muddle through the dark, though each morning we are reminded of the call of God, through the light of the dawn.

This morning light also reminds us of our daily opportunity to start over, fresh. Like the oft quoted words of Anne Shirley, “tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.” This daily rise of the light is our morning whisper to choose to live in His light, to shed our pre-occupation with the false illusion of our own good, our own sufficiency.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

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As I sit at my desk I can hear him … off in the distance, somewhere to the east of us, a rooster crows with wild abandon.

When I hear him, my mind ofter recites this, with each call :

before the rooster crows …

My rooster neighbor crows just before 6am, so if Peter were to have denied Jesus three times that day, before the rooster crows … well, it must have been really easy for him to have denied his Lord, three times, before dawn.

What was Peter thinking?

Jesus had pre-warned him of his impending denials, so he knew they might/would occur. One would think that he would be prepared and wouldn’t fall into a trap of saying what he did not want to say! It is like his tongue deceived him.

Have you ever done that … say what isn’t true, what you didn’t want to say?

Once I had an experience where my brain and tongue were not working in co-operation. I had a medical appointment, via phone. I am not a phone person … never have been. Even as a teenager, I dislike phone communication. So, knowing this about myself, I made notes for the appointment.

When it was time for the appointment, with my list at my hand, I was asked questions … questions that I had written answers to on my paper … right beside me. One of the questions (probably the most important) was, “how has this issue been?” And I answered “a firm okay” … but on my paper I’d written, “rotten”. Right there, I denied my own reality, with not so much as a glance to that paper beside me.

When telling a friend about this she said, maybe, as a people pleaser, I instinctively responded with what I thought my doctor wanted to hear. Maybe I was so eager to have progress to share that I instinctively fabricated it.

If it was that easy for me to deny my own health situation, I think I can understand Peter’s denials before dawn. For, in his case, his denials came out of fear for himself. They were most primitive, for his denials originated in a fear for his life.

The thing is the rooster crows every morning … we have this daily reminder of Peter’s denial of his association with Jesus. We may not be asked directly, or daily about our relationship with Christ, but we still have opportunity to live it. We live our relationship with him in how we love (or do not), in how we use our resources (time, money), in how we behave towards others (in our neighborhoods, in businesses, workplaces, families), in how we think verses what we say (“as one thinks, so is he” Proverbs 23:7).

We all have daily opportunities to live out our association with Jesus … or deny it.

I love how the Contemporary English Version writes this verse (Matthew 26:34):

Jesus replied, “I promise you before a rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you don’t know me.”

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