Choose Surrender

This week our family recognized a significant milestone – 40 years since the death of Inka van Seventer McDowell. Though I never knew her, I look forward to meeting this sister in heaven one day. I know she both suffered and surrendered for all the people that we both love. Three decades ago, I sat on the floor in our Seattle attic after uncovering a little ceramic plaque. I wept in realizing how letting go…

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Choose Joy

      “Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” —G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy       Been joyful lately? I’ve decided to intentionally look for the joy – and make it my own “gigantic secret” for getting through tough times.       Does that mean I plan to be happy all the time? Not exactly. Happiness is dependent upon circumstances—our emotional response to experiencing something good. But circumstances change often.…

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Choose Patience

      Four days a week I have the privilege of entering a world that is, well, slower. As I have spent the last pandemic year working in a senior assisted living community, God has given me many opportunities to alter my hurried life.                   When tempted to rush, I take a deep breath, and silently pray for that elusive fruit of the Spirit: “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me now!”…

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Choose What Matters Most

All the things. Good things. Worthy things. Extraordinary people, adventurous journeys, breathtaking beauty, life-changing words, ful­filling service, quiet moments, and soul-stretching creativity. But how do I choose? My own life is full of obligation, hurry, complicated relation­ships, work demands, health challenges—all seasoned with occasional bouts of guilt and insecurity. Because I can’t do it all. I can’t be it all. Too often choices are already made for me in the flash of a need to…

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Honey, Worry Can Strangle Your Soul

When I arrived home from the weekend conference Sunday evening, I realized a hitchhiker had accompanied me in the door. His name was Worry. At once he set to work bringing up all those things that had conveniently been dormant while I had focused on an enjoyable weekend of ministry. One by one, people and circumstances – ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ – popped into my mind and got me to thinking. And worrying. I…

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Do You Find Spiritual Journaling Helpful?

Have you ever written down your prayers, or journaled an experience that you don’t want to forget? I have found this process can be both revelatory and a way to process emotions, spiritual growth, and focus. Setting aside time and space for life reflection and re-evaluation is a valuable priority, but one that can so easily get lost in the daily demands of life. Though I continued to work outside the home 24-30 hours a…

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For All the Precious Children

Like many of you, I think of the children constantly – especially this time of year as school supplies dominate the shelves of every store, and “first day of school” photos fill my social feed. Oh, how my heart goes out to all the children. Everywhere. Today. Always. The most vulnerable among us in this past 18 months of pandemic turmoil. Those toddlers who have quite literally spent half their lives alone with little social…

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And Now, theHarvest Begins…

Today is the first day of September, which for me will always mean that Fall has begun! And, with Fall comes harvest – a time of “gathering in.” All the planting, all the nourishing, all the work and all the joy have brought us to this place. And now we see the fruit of our lives laid bare for those who will come and taste. Do you ever wonder what your own harvest will be?…

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A Story About Vines

I grew up in south Georgia surrounded by a vine that was lush and green with fragrant blossoms. It also grew like wildfire and was practically impossible to destroy.             Kudzu.             Some of you are nodding in recognition and others are ignorant of the scourge of this beautiful vine. Evidently, at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, the Japanese brought kudzu to their pavilion and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service came up with the bright idea…

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Pruning Hurts

It is incredibly hard to “quit while you’re ahead.” To be sidelined in the middle of living out your dream. For whatever reason. And yet, God, the Master Gardener, “cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more”. John 15.2 I well remember seasons of pruning. Of cutting back professional activities in order to focus on mothering my own…

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Why Roots Matter

It’s called The Big Oak.             My Georgia hometown’s most popular tourist attraction. After all, this southern live oak tree (Quercus virginiana) dates back to 1680 and is currently 68 feet tall and has a limb span of 165 feet. It is also where my mother was born in 1927, at the home of my great-grandparents Chastain who lived there from 1906-1966. The tree is magnificent. But it’s the roots that tell the full story.…

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It’s a Hard Process from Crawling to Soaring

            Can you imagine walking into a room with over a thousand fluttering butterflies?             I did just that at the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens in Georgia and it was quite a colorful experience. Not to mention hot and humid, out of necessity. In this glass-enclosed ecosystem more than fifty species of butterfly live freely among tropical plants. Butterflies arrive there in the chrysalis stage, purchased from family-run butterfly farms in…

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