Restoring the Broken

I can’t tell you how relieved I am to know that the Lord is a repairer of all things broken.

It is not difficult to identify broken things in our world. Governments that mislead, businesses that don’t flourish, health care that isn’t enough, and most certainly people that are walking wounded. For centuries, mankind has struggled to create infrastructures and entities that succeed long term, and provide sources of income and provisions so that people can be properly cared for and thrive.

This whole thought process started as I was reflecting on what a throw-away society we tend to be. It is difficult to even find someone who will repair things anymore, we simply toss the broken items out (in our sadly overfilled waste dumps) and buy new.

There was a shoe repair shop in our hometown that my hubby and I frequented in our earlier years that no longer stands. The cobbler was extremely good at his craft. It was much cheaper to re-sole a pair of shoes than buy new, and the rest of the shoes were perfectly fine. Another example. I recently considered buying a new mini-grill because my old one was making some mysterious noises (I do too), but I realized the grill still worked well, so I’m holding on to it. Yet another example. One of my Bibles is decades old, with pages loose and some of the maps missing, but it has great notes in it, and it hasn’t been “revised” many times over! I’m keeping it.

God is not a throw-away God. He repairs, restores and transforms.

In Isaiah 58, the chapter addresses proper choices and observances. Part of it speaks of the right attitude when a person chooses to fast. In the last few verses the chapter indicates the results of good choices, observances and attitudes. Specifically, it says: “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” (vs. 12, ESV).

If you’ve ever seen a old piece of furniture being restored, or had the satisfaction of doing a restoration yourself, you know the thrill of seeing all the old, tired layers of paint and stain being stripped off, and the gorgeous tones of rich wood begin to shine through. That is how God works as Repairer and Restorer in our lives. He sees value underneath the worn and tired.

Further on in the book of Isaiah, chapter 61 speaks of Jesus and the good news he brings, how he will bring liberty and gladness to worn and tired Zion. Verse 4 in particular describes, “They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”

Maybe you can apply this more directly to some relationships in your life. Perhaps you have made some mistakes with a friendship and you don’t know how to fix it. Maybe you have a family member that has trouble relating to people and it has caused you pain or the loss of potential or existing friendships. God can and will transform those relationships; if you are praying and trusting, He is at work. He is a healer of the bruises and restorer of the breaches in your life.

Matthew 4:23 says that when Jesus walked the earth and lived with his disciples among the people, he taught in the synagogues, preached the gospel of the kingdom, and healed “all manner of of sickness and disease among the people.” (KJV) It is interesting that “manner” is an Old Testament word used in the New Testament in this reference, according to Strong’s Concordance. It means: a road or course of life, among other definitions.

We can trust that the Jesus who taught, preached and healed back then, still does so today. And, He does so along our course of life in every way—physically, mentally or emotionally in every situation that we need it!

The Perfect Gift of Light

During a family trip over twenty years ago, we experienced first hand just how dark darkness could get-but my husband in particular experienced it. While traveling through Pennsylvania along the turnpike with our two boys, we approached a tunnel going through the mountains. There was quite a bit of traffic and multiple signs to be aware of, so my husband missed the sign close to the entrance which said “Remove sunglasses.” The tunnel seemed many miles long, and during it the boys and I chattered but my husband was mysteriously quiet. Once we were out of the unnerving passage, my husband said, “Thank God, I was freaking out in there. I couldn’t see a thing!”

I came across a biblical application to the concept of light vs. darkness, and good things, while reading the first chapter of James. It speaks of the Father of lights who brings good gifts. I am immensely thankful for the gift of light in my spiritual life, so I can see clearly right and wrong, light and darkness. So that I can see where the Lord wants to transform my thinking, my actions, and my speech.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 (ESV)

The beginning of the verse seems to state the obvious-that God gives good and perfect gifts. But do we really understand, or more importantly, embrace what this promise gives us? It offers complete rest if we will take it, a respite from dark doubts that like to swirl around inside our brains, and from striving to get ourselves things. God can only give good and perfect things to us. And His gifts are perfect, because they work to perfect us where we are. We just don’t always recognize them as gifts.

The second part of the verse says, “…coming down from the Father of lights..” I don’t think it is insignificant that the first thing God created was light. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” Genesis 1:3-4 (ESV)

Light is imperative to our existence today. We have electrical light in our homes and buildings, headlights on our cars, street lights on tall poles that illuminate roads so we can navigate safely. These lights are, however, imperfect. Even if we have every light on in our homes there are shadows- behind a desk, under a bookshelf, or in a lonely corner. Headlights and street lights only show us so much, but God’s light cuts through everything.

The last part of James 1:17 describes that in God, “…there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (ESV) I do find the AMPC translation interesting here. It says, “…in Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].” What a great example of the difference between our light here and God’s light. It reminds us that the rising and setting of the sun affects our vision, just as an eclipse will affect it.

Nothing can hinder God’s light. John 1:5 states, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” The verse doesn’t use the word “but” as a connecting word, it uses “and”. It isn’t negating that there is darkness, only that perfect light dissolves it. As society seems to get more convoluted and foggy, this is our promise!

Many times over the years my husband and I have laughed about the “tunnel experience” in Pennsylvania. It was a double whammy-a dark passage and sunglasses. They do not go together, we have learned. But Who was waiting at the end of that tunnel? God—with His gift of light! One of His best gifts I think.

The Time Element

Our ordinary, day-to-day life does not pass like the flip of a page. It does, however, establish its own timetable, and there is a certain natural progression to the rhythm of life. Life is continually unfolding-but it is longer than simply turning a page or going to the next chapter in a book.

The time element was in play with Bible time characters (and I mean that in every sense of the word) as well. When we read of Abraham, David, Leah or Hannah, or Paul and the New Testament apostles and believers, we can completely lose perspective of the time element in their circumstances. The passage of time between events from one chapter to the next as their story unfolds is not necessarily clearly set out. In many instances, it was weeks, months or years between one event and another in the Bible.

We are taught in church, Sunday school or by parents/grandparents that God has his own timetable. Biblically, Isaiah 55 encourages and speaks of listening and seeking the Lord-that he will be found because of his compassion. The scripture also reminds that: “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours…” (vs. 8-9) This automatically includes the process of time.

Paul reminds the faithful followers of Christ in Ephesians 1:7-10, that they (and we) have redemption through the blood of Jesus, “…according to his purpose…” “…as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Time and waiting on God was obviously also a challenge for them.

Fast forward to today, and we still find understanding God’s timing a daunting task. We continue to make some effort to trust and rely on our Abba’s timetable. That persistent worry, that nagging pain or illness, those times of feeling alone or wrapped in fog; at those times the comfort of the promise whispers to us so sweetly. “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

The bottom line is, although we pencil in appointments and get-togethers on our calendars, we know there is a good chance these may need to be rescheduled. Life has many variables. The Overseer of all our times is The Ancient of Days, and he utilizes time differently and perfectly.

We can be encouraged that although “It is not for you to know the times and seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:7), we can stand on the great wisdom and faithfulness of our God. He will always do what is in our best interest-in immediacy or long term!

Safe Place

Happy, energetic voices bounced around me as I stood on the sunny school playground, watching the activity. My grandson, Jack, then about 7 years old, was involved in an intense game of tag with several of his buddies. He flashed over to me, touching me on the shoulder, and yelled, “Grandma is base!”

I immediately became the safe spot to all participants in the game. Some of the taps on the shoulder were more like small elephants charging into me but such is the case with busy children. I gained a number of temporary grandchildren that day, all dutifully exclaiming, “Grandma is base”, as they found safety at my station. I loved every minute of it!

Truth was, if there had been any real danger, I would have done anything I could to protect those kids. They were/are someone’s precious children. God cares for us the same way, and He is truly the refuge we all need.

Recalling this event now, I thought about how we don’t always put ourselves in a safe spot. Or more accurately, how we count on untrustworthy things for safety. We have homes to shelter and build equity in, we may have life insurance, or we are waiting on retirement or a certain age to draw social security. All practical things and in theory, dependable things. But honestly, in todays climate, life insurance benefits could change drastically and social security might not be something we can count on.

The need for safety is a very basic human need. What we can ground ourselves on are the Lord’s promises. Psalm 46:1 reads: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (ESV, emphasis mine) Matthew Henry says regarding Psalm 46 that: God “is a help sufficient, a help accommodated to every case and exigence; whatever it is, he is a very present help…” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, vol. III, pg. 410) . So He is an individually tailored help to us, at all times. Charles Spurgeon’s notes on Psalm 46 include the emphasis that, “ He (God) is more present than friend or relative can be, yes, more nearly present than even the trouble itself.” (

The word present in Strong’s Concordance means, “certain, attainable, well-proved” among other definitions in Hebrew. So, it is then applicable to say, “God is my refuge, a very certain, attainable and well-proved help in time of trouble.”

That day several years ago on the playground, Jack instinctively chose Grandma as his source of safety. (Kinda chokes me up a little.) Even in play, he did not chose an inanimate object that could not save like a slide or the monkey bars. Smart kid, my grandson.

The always solid, sustaining safety of God is more than enough for me. How about you?

Timing Really Is Everything

In our relationships, jobs, health and even joyfully looking for the return of Christ, we wait on His timing in something.

Waiting on the timing of God is no easy venture. It is a progressive lesson, that is learned more profoundly with each opportunity to wait and see what He will do. For each area in which I have decided to wait in God, another area arises. (And we all can likely nod in agreement with that.) This concept has unlimited scope.

Confession! Balancing faith that the shed blood of Jesus took all my weaknesses and sin, juxtaposed with God’s allowance of affliction can be tricky for me. I am, however, grounded in knowing my trials have all been ordered by the Lord for whatever purpose He sees fit. He carried my sin all those years ago just as He carries me day by day now. The timing of the allowed affliction is His to unfold.

I think we all are growing together to understand that God is both omniscient healer/provider and omnipresent developer-of-trust. There are stages we grow through, we don’t just go through them, and the circumstances we grow through are placed by God.

In Psalm 31, David is tired, hungry and being pursued by enemies wanting to kill him. A large portion of David’s early years were like this. After telling God how he feels—such honesty before God—and asking for grace to deliver him, David says in verse 14 and 15(a), “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand…” (ESV) One of the Hebrew meanings of times in the concordance includes “seasons”. David was stating he trusted God no matter how long the trial went on, even if God did not make the trial go away.

We know that God is the “founder and perfecter of our faith”. (Hebrews 12:2) We could substitute the idea of times and seasons for faith—he is the founder and perfecter of our times and seasons—and it is just as applicable and impactful! Faith and waiting are required in the times and seasons.

We are reminded that the Lord directs our hearts into the love of God, “and into the steadfastness and patience of Christ in waiting for His return.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5, Amplified) Paul encourages the church to remember the Best Promise to wait for as a believer, and we should also be encouraged.

I love a quote I found from T.D.Jakes about waiting. It is: “Timing is so important! If you are going to be successful in dance, you must be able to respond to rhythm and timing. It’s the same in the Spirit.”

In the midst of the occasional mess of reconstruction, of God birthing a new thing in us, we need to recognize the rhythm and timing of it all. He will accomplish it with impeccable skill.

Letting Go of Expectations

It isn’t possible to be among the living and not have experienced some disappointments. If you are breathing, you understand that. Even if you were a hermit living miles away from civilization, you would still be disappointed by something.

We get disappointed in ourselves when we lack discipline, doing something we know we shouldn’t do. We think, “I lost my temper again, I was unkind, I made excuses not to exercise today (or whatever your weakness may be). Now I have to start all over again.” We get disappointed in a goal long-worked for that falls short of completion. We get disappointed with someone else if they make a choice or act a certain way we find unexpected or offensive.

But God doesn’t get disappointed. He sees our missteps and inconsistencies as a continuation of the process. Our focus needs to be coming back in prayer for forgiveness and help. And retraining our vision to learn to see opportunity instead of failure.To ask God to show us what we need to see instead of what we tend not to see.

Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” A great example of this is told in one of the letters of Paul while he is imprisoned. Phillipians 1:12-14 describes Paul’s ability to look beyond circumstances in the cold reality of the cell confining him. “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (NIV)

Paul saw beyond the persecution of his faith to furtherance of the faith. Many of us would not react in this way, or would be challenged to do so. Yet the Spirit was helping Paul and would do so with us if in that same situation. Paul was able to lay down his expectations to see God’s plan. The guards near him would be witnessed to, and the apostles would become more emboldened.

Every disappointment that comes our way is based in expectation. Letting go of those expectations of ourselves or others simply must happen—but knowing that only God can change the heart and create the beauty is equally imperative! We need to see ourselves and others with the proverbial blank canvas. Ready for the sweep and color of God’s paintbrush.

Painters must prepare the canvases first before they can create. Unless already treated canvases are purchased, there must first be a wash of gesso applied to make the paint go on smoothly. Also, this mixture helps avoid long term deterioration from the paint chemicals on the canvas.

In my teens, I went through a period that art really calmed and focused me. Both looking at it and creating it. I would buy the small, ready-to-paint canvases, and zone out for a few hours. I also liked charcoal and pen and ink drawing.

I remember one summer day between my sophomore-junior year I had been trying my hand at a still life. Since I had been quiet for so long, my mother came upstairs to check on me. We chatted briefly and then my mom went back downstairs. I heard her say to my dad, “So many teens are bored or running around wasting time and our daughter is painting.” I did not know what she meant, I just knew I loved to create, even if the creations did not always turn out.

God knows the beginning canvas from the finished canvas. He knows the end result of our lives and exactly, with painstaking touch, how he will work through it all.

“What the righteous hope for will end in joy; what the wicked expect will come to nothing.” Proverbs 10:28 (CJB)

Homesick for Heaven

The word homesick stirs a multitude of feelings. The dictionary definition of the word, however, is pretty straightforward: “To long for family and home”, or “To miss a familiar place”. Seems very logical—and is one of those English words that means exactly what they imply.

When I think of being homesick, I flash back to summer camp over fifty years ago. It was a tentative step toward independence, albeit a little painfully.

When we were still pre-teen, my parents sent my brother and me to a church camp for a week. This was in a different town about an hours drive away from our city. I thought the camp was mostly fun. New kids, cool cabins with wooden floors and cots, bathrooms with toilets that flushed and great showers, lots of crafts, canoeing and campfires, hot dogs and s’mores, swimming and sing alongs. And great counselors that talked to us at our level about the Bible and God.

My brother did not exactly share my enjoyment, and we were in separate cabins of course, boy-girl and age group divided. He was a shy guy, more into books and science than baseball. Those science experiments paid off. My big brother was a chemist for many years at a large company in the north. (Proud sis!)

I recall meeting one day in the middle of the swimming pool, and he smiled really big. My brother asked me if I was homesick. I wasn’t too much at that point, but I told him, “Maybe a little.” I could tell he was horribly homesick and I felt badly for him. I overheard my parents talking about it later—they felt guilty about sending us to camp at all! Long term, I think my brother and I realized it was a good thing we went.

Missing someone you love when you are apart, or being absent from your own home, city, state and feeling a little “off” is normal. We have all felt that way during life’s journey, even if our individual circumstances are different. It comes down to what is familiar, where we belong—and then feeling like a crater resides in our midsection!

So, here’s the question. Why, at moments, do I feel homesick for heaven? It just feels piercing at times. And secondly, how do I know it’s heaven for which I am homesick?

Obviously I have never been to heaven, but paradoxically and by faith, I know it awaits me. I understand this sojourn on earth is but a blink, it is only dress rehearsal for the biggest stage of all. But it matters how I live here, and that should not be taken lightly, no matter how brief a period it actually is. The Sermon on the Mount underscores this truth when Jesus speaks of us being lights in the world. “…let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Mt. 5:16 (ESV) I have not always been so great about letting that light shine, unfortunately, but our journey here is just that, a journey full of steep hills, rocks and things to stumble over.

From a reasonable standpoint, it is illogical to long for a place I’ve never seen. Yet, I still deeply want to be there. It is a tender, deep ache for both the beauty of heaven and the holiness and purity of God. It is the cry of my spirit, not my mind, really wanting to be home!

Hebrews 11:16 talks about this, describing the struggle of our forefathers in the faith: “…but as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

The Lord is so knowledgeable and so understanding of our desire for a sense of belonging and home. He puts that longing there in our hearts, because it is also His. The Lord longs for us too!

To help us wait, the Bible describes the heaven we will see, if we have asked Him to be our Savior. As a reward for trying to live for him, heaven is full of light and peace-because God is there.

“…and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it…and they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night: and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:3-6 (NASB)

Oh, there will be a homecoming, and it will be worth it all. I can wait.

From Scratch

After a decades long hiatus, I decided to prepare a batch of good, old homemade noodles today. Some storms had rolled through our area last night, and the resulting temps were much cooler this morning. A perfect time to make the pasta, I thought.

What I was not prepared for was the rush of nostalgia that came over me as I mixed, rolled and cut those yummy treats. I reverted to that tiny, knobby-kneed little girl walking into the kitchen where my mama had noodles laying out all over the table and surrounding counters. The noodles were there to dry, you see. That is part of the process of noodle making. I remember my mom was happy while she worked.

Standing in my own kitchen, I made a little nest of flour and salt, dropped the whole eggs into the middle and very slowly began to incorporate the flour into the egg.

Following a short rest of the dough, I began to knead the concoction. Why is that motion so satisfying? It is a wholesome sort of feeling, making bread or noodles the old fashioned way. Sometimes it is good to be reminded once again of the roots of our parents and ancestors. To appreciate the work they did to make our lives better. Some things are better “from scratch”, a phrase my mama and grandmas used. The Bible perhaps says it best: “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands..” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). This possibly is the “scratch” of our life toward God.

Not everyone has the time to do this in our busy society—but oh, I encourage you to make a space in your schedule for something basic that grounds you. Your niche may not be in the kitchen. You may find enjoyment in singing or painting. You may prefer planting flowers or vegetables. Growing things and getting your hands in the dirt may ground you also. I get that. My dad loved his vegetable gardening-in part because he had great prayer time while he planted, picked and weeded.

So…whether you are in the kneading or drying stage, or the canvas prep or painting phase, the scales practice or melody learning phase, or perhaps the planting or weeding period…do it with joy and a heart that is satisfied!

“The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His.”-Francis Chan

Bebows and Knee pits

I love listening to little children’s vocabulary develop as they grow. Pronouncing letter sounds and learning word choices are a large part of vocabulary.

When my youngest son was four years old, he had an endearing vocabulary. For instance, when he had fallen down and came to me crying, he would say, “My bebow hurts.” If we had been out at my parents house on a hot, sticky, summer night, he might ask, “Why do ‘squitoes bite my knee pit?” Of course by then, we had interpreted bebow to mean elbow, and knee pit to mean the hollow behind his knee. (This is actually pretty logical. We have an arm pit, so knee pit seems to follow.)

The former trauma was averted with a hug and a band-aid, and a promise he would be alright. The latter question was partly helped with a dab of calamine lotion and an attempted explanation of why mosquitoes bite, and sometimes where.

Children don’t always come up with the correct word or pronunciation when they communicate, but those communications are precious to us. I can’t help but think that God finds our learning how to talk with him in prayer just as delightful. Adults don’t always use correct verbiage either, but what matters to God is that we talk to him.

And God longs to hear from us—he created us for relationship with him. And Jesus, his son, intercedes for us constantly (Hebrews 7:24-25).

So here is a little checklist for us. 1.The importance of communication with Jesus? yes; 2.The role of prayer in our lives? absolutely; 3.The knowledge that our prayers are always desired by God? amen.

The Lord doesn’t care if we choose the correct adjective or if the sentence structure in our prayers is exemplary. He cares about the status of the heart. He cares about our growth as believers. He cares about interaction with him.

God will teach us and perfect in us the art of petition. No worries! Use the word “bebow” or “knee pit” if you want to, but by all means, stay in communication with our Lord. He promises joy to us if we do. “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence…” (Psalm 16:11)

What if?

Fear is an odd thing. It can be as groundless and flimsy as paper, or it can have huge teeth and feel insurmountable, if we feed it.

I want to share another memory of my mom, if you will indulge me. I seem to be in a phase of life where I am realizing more about her (and myself), though she has been with Jesus many years now.

The memory I share today is about my attempts to learn to ride a bicycle. I was challenged by this very simple skill, but sometimes the simplest skill can seem difficult by our own perception.

My mother was frustrated for me, and with me. She knew I was capable of riding my bicycle and she knew I wanted to ride my bicycle. But my fear was stopping me. Oh, I wasn’t afraid of the bike itself, or the riding itself-I was afraid of the skinned palms and knees if I fell. It was the “what if?”

We humans face a multitude of scenarios at all ages with the “what if?” The fears become more complex in some ways as we get to adulthood, but they visit us all the time. There are moments when the fears pop up and we are surprised by them. We might think, “I didn’t know I was afraid of that” or, “Why am I afraid of that?”

On the day I finally conquered my fear with the bicycle, it was really because I feared something else more. I wish I could say I was noble but I wasn’t! My mother was outside with me encouraging me for who-knows-how-many-times, and her patience snapped. She had had it! She told me, “You get on that bicycle and you ride it!” Well, I was more afraid of my mom’s wrath than I was of temporary pain from skin on pavement, so guess what happened? I got on that bike and I rode it-and was nearly inseparable from it thereafter.

This memory has made me reflect on opportunities I may not be doing because of fear. It has made me realize I am tired of being afraid of situations and outcomes beyond my control. I want to fear God. My insecurities will show their ugly faces as long as I walk the earth, but I don’t want the “what ifs” to dictate what I will do. Or even try.

I am a pilgrim in progress in this area, and I suspect you can nod in agreement. My prayer is that I can really put in practice the scripture that says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) I pray that incorrect perceptions and beliefs will be re-routed in my head by God’s grace. I pray that the “what ifs” be given the what-for, so that I, and all of us, can victoriously…get on that bicycle and ride it…wherever the Lord directs!

SonRise Community Church

That the Glory of God would be the glory of this City

Backyard Bird Nerd

"Consider the birds of the air...."

His eye is on the sparrow

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.


a work in progress


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