Trials with Purpose

Matthew 10:22And you will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

Philippians 1:27-30Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and this too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on His behalf, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Key verse: Philippians 1:29-30; Matthew 10:22

Key words: For to you it has been granted … to suffer on His behalf; hated because of My name

God’s Glorious Promises

The promises of God—His eternal salvation; His shelter, His wisdom, His protective love, and His refreshing rest—to name but a few—are some of the assurances I call upon when facing the troubles of my day; my year; my seasons. Another promise that is important to me is found in Proverbs 22:6 where the poet tells us that if we train up a child in the way he should go then when that child is old, he will not depart from it. With children (now grown) that have pushed at what I believe should be the boundaries of good and common spiritual sense, this verse is one I call upon often. And by the way, It seems timely to mention that this verse is often misunderstood in it’s meaning. The word hanakh translated as “train,” in our English language, in Hebrew means “to dedicate” or “to consecrate.” The verse leans toward you and I committing our children to the Lord more than guilt-whipping them into spiritual shape through obligatory and deceptive faith works.

Promises on the Roads Less Traveled

But the point of this blog is to discuss the less popular promises of God found in our key verses today. I think of them as the hard promises on the roads less traveled–the pathways we’re to be seeking.

These are the curious and often overlooked promises of suffering and persecution—hard topics to tackle.

But we must accurately handle these promises because we are called to rightly handle the Word of God.

We are to be masters with our swords.

We are to be prepared in season and out.

 And to rightly master the sword, we are to know where and why our troubles come from and not be tempted to blame God or circumstances, or even others when the suffering does come.

In a culture where love grows cold, it’s almost fashionable and certainly trendy, to place blame on people who and circumstances that do not up line up with our own ideals. I see it all around me … but also in me. At work, when our international ministry is disrupted by travel restrictions, I’m guilty of saying, “Dang that Covid 19.” It’s true this horrible, possibly man-made virus is disrupting God’s work all over the world, and I should certainly pray against it. But my first reaction, according to James 1:2, is to thank God for the opportunity to learn, grow, and develop my godly character. When the government threatens to place medical mandates—with large financial fines for noncompliance—on nonprofits that wish to respect a person’s privacy, I become distrustful of the very leaders we elected. Here again, is an opportunity for prayer, asking for discernment but also thanking Him for the opportunity to be tested in my faith. Is my faith in the government or is it in Christ?

Why Trials; Why Me

Jesus was clear when speaking of the reasons for trials: He’s shaping eternal life in you. And me. And all who belong to Him.

Because Christ and His disciples have warned us that persecution comes, we must take the bold step of laying blame to the side and accepting the coming trials not only with patience, but joy, knowing these trials have purpose. Look back at the Philippians verse. Paul wrote to the Philippians that suffering had been granted to them. Granted. The word granted brings to mind a privilege or an award. My dear Philippians, you have been granted to suffer and die! Enjoy your prize.

There’s no if attached to these promises. There is only a matter of when attached to these promises. As a child of God, you will experience sufferings and you will be persecuted. In the spiritual realm, this is to be considered a gift.

But take heart—there is a glorious reason.

Before jumping into my own limited ponderings on the glories of our trials, I looked up what the biblical scholar Matthew Henry had to say on these verses. This is good stuff and way beyond anything my wee brain could produce. Here is what Henry wrote in his commentary on Matthew 10, It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations.  And in his commentary on Philippians 1, he penned, Faith is God’s gift on the behalf of Christ; the ability and disposition to believe are from God. And if we suffer reproach and loss for Christ, we are to reckon them a gift, and prize them accordingly.

In seeking to answer the why question that pops up in my own resistance to embracing the idea that suffering is a gift, I recalled what James had to say at the beginning of his epistle. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

From these Scriptures, clearly, trials and tribulations (sufferings and persecutions) are meant to mature us as Christ followers. The idea that our Christ cares to have you and me grow into the complete royal warriors He imagined when He envisioned the world says so much about the nature of our King. He cares for you. To the point of doing whatever it takes to bring you into the full glory of His own image.

Did he not suffer and die?

And yet, He made you in his image. The whole of His image.

In this, we have joy. Precept by precept, trial by trial, we are being made closer to the real deity deal.

But why my wee brain still asks.

And the Word answers me. For my glory.

In Isaiah 43, the prophet scribe records God’s promises to gather Israel together in a future time (Hello the rebirth of Israel in 1948), and in these promises, a small, but super powerful statement is revealed. Isaiah, writing on God’s behalf records, “… and who I created for my glory.”

God creates for His glory. You are on planet earth for His glory. And how does He do that? By making you in His image, and growing you up, through trials and tribulations, to prove your unfaltering faith. Your mature and steadfast faith brings Him glory. Your mature and steadfast patience brings Him glory. Your mature and steadfast trust brings Him glory.

There’s more:

You standing bold when your will is weak brings Him glory. You standing faithful in the face of cancer brings Him glory. You speaking truth in a culture of lies brings Him glory. You marching away from the world’s temptations brings Him glory.

What’s Your Trial?

Make your own statement and fill in the blank. When I ______, I bring Him glory.

I’m convicted about the complaining I’ve done. With every word of bad news, I should pray first, then thank the Lord that I’m worthy to live in these days of wars and rumors of wars, and famine, pestilence, earthquakes, and deception. I am thankful to be worthy, by His love alone, to be molded and shaped into His likeness.

This is a big deal.

And you’re a part of it.

Sharpen Up!

Let Him sharpen you and His sword. Let us all accept the challenges we face with grace and love and hearts firmly planted in His glory.


If I perish, I perish.


Warnings and Promises — Relevant Today

Psalm 2 – a short psalm that throws down the truth of what’s happening around the globe today. You’ll find it at the end of this blog.

Working for an international ministry with employees living in and traveling to areas all over the world, I receive major scoop from around the globe—what countries are struggling with pandemics, military coups, or civil wars. Where danger exists and where small windows or opportunity for evangelism and discipleship open.

In my work, we seek to provide God’s Word (the ultimate discipleship tool) to the more than seven thousand language groups living today. When Jesus gave us His mandate go into every nation (The Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20), we see this directive fulfilled in Revelation 7:9 as representation from every nation, tribe, and tongue is gathered before the throne of Christ.  

The good news? We do it! Christ’s church completes the Great Commission task, discipling people from every one of those seven thousand plus language groups. Woo hoo!

Between Then and Now

But between the selecting the Jewish Nation as His representation, to the birth of the church through Christ’s atoning work on the cross, to the coming day when we see and experience all these wonderful people groups around the throne, a lot of stuff happens. Major stuff. Hair-raising stuff.

We’ve lived through some of that hair-raising stuff these last twenty months. And as we here in the US have grappled with a new enemy called Covid-19, and also government overreaches, mobs, violence, and tyranny, the rest of the nations have contended with the same. Truly we are now a global society as every living being has experienced some level of unwanted change, uniting us on unfortunate common ground.


These facts are why Psalm 2 speaks to me in a unique way today. The first three verses almost describe our current global, political climates. The next three verses (four through six), give us a look at God’s perspective of our current condition. He’s laughing at the rulers of the world, including those in charge of the US. Verses seven, eight, and nine tell us of God’s plan through the Davidic throne to place His own son as the ultimate and righteous leader of the nations. The last three verses include a terrible warning of wrath but also a glorious promise in the last line: Blessed are all who take refuge in Him [the Son].  

Though in this psalm, there is a promise that Christ’s wrath is kindled quickly (He’s not going to put up with earthly leaders coming together to conspire against Him for long), there is also a guarantee that if we serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling, then we are supported, consecrated, and wholly His.

This truth makes my heart warm and gooey like a muffin right out of the oven. I’m feeling the love. Are you?

The Kingdom Come

What’s happening in our world is but a moment’s infliction. There’s a wrath coming for the kings of the earth who have ignored God’s sovereign design. And there’s a kingdom coming for you and me.

Take heart! His kingdom will come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Doing the right thing in these days of trouble will not be easy. Walking the narrow path will be not only dangerous, but lonely. But you, oh mighty warrior, will walk with Christ in His coming thousand-year reign.


Sharpen that sword. Be prepared to give testimony in season and out. And walk, like the warrior you are, in truth.


If I perish, I perish,


Psalm 2

Why are the nations restless

And the peoples plotting in vain?

2 The kings of the earth take their stand

And the rulers conspire together

Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,

3 “Let’s tear their shackles apart

And throw their ropes away from us!”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,

The Lord scoffs at them.

5 Then He will speak to them in His anger

And terrify them in His fury, saying,

6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King

Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

7 “I will announce the decree of the LORD:

He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,

Today I have fathered You.

8 ‘Ask it of Me, and I will certainly give the nations as Your inheritance,

And the ends of the earth as Your possession.

9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,

You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”

10 Now then, you kings, use insight;

Let yourselves be instructed, you judges of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with reverence

And rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, that He not be angry and you perish on the way,

For His wrath may be kindled quickly.

How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

The Problem With Bucket Lists Part 2

Looking at an Empty Pail?

In Part 1 of The Problem With Bucket Lists, we considered how creating a bucket list, for the Christian, indicates there are earthly opportunities that vanish when we die. While there’s nothing wrong with goals—living an intentional life—the idea that life here on earth has time limitations for the born-again believer is not good theology.

Our lesson from Part 1 of Bucket List Blog (BLB), we learned our lives will not be so radically different in the coming hereafter.

Read BLB 1 here.

Where we look is also a problem with bucket lists. While it’s super satisfying to see something you desire, set the goal, then reach the target, eyes that look to the pleasures of earth, biblically, belong to people with limited vision.

I want to be a person who sees beyond what’s in front of me. I want to be a person of unlimited vision.

Earthly Pleasures

Believe me, I enjoy my time on this planet in its current, shallow state. I love my family, my job, my therapy (writing), and I love to behold a hot pink sunrise, ponder golden autumn leaves, and engage in long, spiritual conversations with my besties. I adore travel, seeing and experiencing new places and cultures from the villages of Equatorial Guinea, Africa, to the street markets of Germany. All of it—every single experience. But our Maker has, time and again, communicated that we are never to consider this space our destiny or that this life is as good as it gets.

Of course our lives here are but mere shadows of the real life awaiting us, when again, we walk with God in the Garden and Christ serves as the perfect head of state.

Government will take on a whole new meaning in the coming kingdom. Thank God!

Our Purpose

Look at Isaiah 43. Without doubt or need for debate, we are told the purpose of our creation—all of it—man and field: To bring glory to God.

Our lives in this world/state/condition are a training ground for trust with the specific mission to build a population for the next kingdom (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Ephesians 2:19-22).

The purpose here is not to fulfill every earthly pleasure in this temporal state, but to prepare for the promises and pleasures of life as a redeemed creature in an eternal state of harmony in the presence of our God and our King.

New Lists

I would love, love to experience a river cruise. I admit, I made this a major goal right after my husband and I experienced a ten-day tour of Israel. I’ve fantasized about gliding, first class, down a lazy river watching new-to-me scenes float by. And, I admit, I am disappointed that Covid and mandatory vaxxines will likely keep me from ever stepping foot on a cruise ship while in this temporary vehicle called my body. But. But who knows what opportunities lie ahead?

What has the Creator fashioned for the next phase? What if I get to sail the Tigris with King Jesus?

Now that would be the trip of an eternal lifetime.

Reality Check

It’s fun for me to fantasize about the future, but I believe Scripture has a deeper calling when we are commanded to keep our eyes on heaven and not earth. We’re not to be hoping for greater pleasures, but for a greater humanity.

Look at these verses:

Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Philippians 3:14 – I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus

Philippians 3:20 – But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

2 Timothy 4:8 – In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

This, beyond all river-cruise dreams, is what I get really pumped about—men and women in their perfected and destined state, glorifying our Maker in truth and harmony. If the last 18 months has revealed any truth, it’s this: We need Jesus.


Let me be bold; let me be courageous and say, we’re speeding toward the end of our current state of being and it is a beautiful thing to behold. Just as He has foretold and promised, our Savior is working all things–all things pandemic, all things lawless, all things false–to the good of those who love Him. All things to the good. All things to perfection. All things to creation’s ultimate purpose.

Let’s keep our eyes on the glories ahead and not on what is slipping away.

If I perish, I perish,


The Problem With Bucket Lists Part 1

A couple of weeks back, that oft-spoken moment happened again. I’d been talking up the rapture and how, with all the signs of the times, I couldn’t help but think we were getting close to that foretold, miracle. I’m speaking of the event when Christ returns for the bride, meets her in the air, and whisks her off to what I believe will be the wedding ceremony of the church and Christ, followed by a time in the marriage chamber for seven years.**

The gal I spoke with replied with something I’ve heard many, many times before.

And it makes me sad (and a little crazy).

She said, “I’m not ready for the rapture. I still have things I want to do here.”

In other words, she has a bucket list she hopes to fill before she dies.

There are two problems with bucket lists as I see it. This blog will deal with Bucket List Problem #1 and a subsequent blog will address Bucket Lists Problem #2.

Bucket Lists Problem #1

I get having goals and plans and enjoying this amazing life we’ve been blessed with. Intentional living is living at the fullest. Having goals and dreams sets us on that course. The Word of God tells us where there is no vision, people perish (Proverbs 29:18). But what I don’t understand is how we’ve come to misunderstand that when death comes, life as we know it will cease to exist. This is true for this temporary body, but not for the soul.

Death being the end of life is not biblical teaching for the Christian. Death is the act of leaving behind the current vehicle we occupy and moving from one phase to another—either to eternal torment in hell or eternal bliss with Christ.

We Live in a Shadow

Let’s view this life through a biblical lens.

Colossians 2:16-17 tells us that the festivals practiced by the Jews in biblical times were mere shadows of things to come. And Hebrews chapters eight through eleven speak of how Melchizedek is a priestly shadow of the coming Christ and the law given to Moses was a shadow of good things to come. These chapters in Hebrews drive home the ideas that God created the things of this earth to speak to us about heaven, further explaining that the state of what we live in now is a mere shadow of things to come.

Since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, we’ve been living in a less-than world, but a world that was created to resemble heaven.

Look at Romans 1:20:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

God created a world that spoke of His nature and His heavenly abode. He created a physical world to represent the invisible world. Right now we live in the physical, visible world which is a shadow of the invisible world. Once we die or are raptured, we will live in the invisible world that is the substance that our world was made to teach us about. We’ll be in the real deal then.

You’re not leaving what you’ve always known when you die. You are entering into a better condition of what you’ve always known when you die—as long as you are among the saved.

Let me put it this way, if a mountain on planet earth is a shadow of a mountain in heaven, then try to imagine the grandeur of the real thing. If music on earth is a shadow of music in heaven, what kind of emotional experience will live concerts be there? I think of it like a landscape painting. I can look at a beautifully painted canvas and try and imagine what it would be like to walk there or dine there, or live there. Right now, we live on the canvas. The real stuff the canvas was painted of is on the other side of death for the Christ believer.

Are you following my thoughts?

Bucket lists imply that there are things to be done on earth while we are alive that cannot be done in heaven when we enter that dimension. That’s a silly conjecture. If all things earth were made to teach you and I something about heaven, then all things heaven are not only going to be familiar, but better than the shadows we live in now.

Do you play a guitar here? Maybe you’ll master multiple instruments there. Enjoy snow skiing? Perhaps you’ll have the opportunity to slalom down a mountain the size of Everest there. Find your peace ocean side now? Wait till you walk a beach in heaven.


When another friend and I were talking about the mandatory vax cards needed to enter some countries, she mentioned that she might never make it to Israel now because of the restrictions. But I loved her attitude. She shrugged and said, “Oh well, I’m going to be seeing Israel during the thousand-year reign anyway. So I’m not missing out.”

Wow. That gal knew her Bible and because she did, she has the true understanding that dying is not the end of life.

Dying is an extension of life—the life God created when He first made you.

You aren’t made a second time. As a Christian you’re reborn, but not remade. The Word tells us that you and I were fully known and created in the womb. Our rebirth happens outside the womb, as a decision to believe upon the grace of Christ. So the same person God created in the womb will be the same core person living in heaven.

We are promised eternal life because your life, as a believer, doesn’t end. Your life continues. You will still be you, only better.

Mountains will still be mountains, only more beautiful.

Stepping into heaven (the invisible) will be like stepping into our true destinies.

So, to circle back to bucket lists—you can see that having these intentional inventories are not a bad thing but can limit our thinking. The bucket list can imply that our chances at getting to experience some of the wonders of this world end when we die. But if you’re a born-again believer, then I’ve got good news. Your chances of accomplishing your dreams are better in the next phase than they are here in the shadow lands where delusional spirits and menacing demons seek to kill, steal, and destroy.

When it comes to living the epitome of the abundant life, we’re just getting warmed up living in the shadow lands. Our true potential lies in the substance—the real life God had in mind when he made the human race.

As well, let’s not forget that after the Great Tribulation, Christ sets up a thousand-year reign here on planet earth. We’re all going to be back in the shadow lands ruling and reigning with Him and a thousand years is plenty of time for you to make that trip you haven’t been able to scratch off your dream list (lol). I don’t begin to think that everything will be exact copies and that life in heaven won’t take on spectacularly new dimensions. But I’m using simple ideas to get your imagination going so we won’t view death as an end to the lives we love. Death as the end is not the way we’re to view our lives.

We’re to be truth knowers, discerning the times (Luke 12:54-56) and loving his appearing (2Tim.4:8). Not frantic earth-dwellers getting our bucket lists filled.

So look up, your redemption draws near. Do not dread the birth pangs that come upon the world, but rather look—with great hope and expectation—for your Savior’s return.

Part 2 of the Bucket list coming soon.

If I perish, I perish,



Muck Fires, Censorship, and Crazy Times

Muck Fires

I’ll take the firestorm over the Muck any day.

When it comes to fire classifications, you can see, hear, and feel the onset of a raging firestorm. Smoke billows through the air; the coal-hot wood snaps and cracks; wind in the flames hiss; and the heat—it melts your heart cause your skin is already toast. Brash and consuming, a firestorm makes its brazen presence known. See one of those monsters coming, and you’re going to call for a fire hose.

But the Muck (a fire underground) can burn underfoot. The Muck is a sneaky little devil of a fire, creeping along underground, tearing at the fabric of a forest’s foundation and you’ll never know it’s there.

The Science on Fires

According to Vikaspedia, Mucks (underground fires) are fires of low intensity, consuming the organic matter beneath and the surface litter on top of the forest floor. These fires can burn meters below the surface and spread slowly. The Muck is hard to detect or control and can burn for months and destroy the vegetative cover of the soil, depleting the soil of valuable nutrients.

But firestorms, on the other hand, are intense fires spreading rapidly over large areas. As the fire burns, heat rises and air rushes in causing the fire to grow and spin like a tornado. Temperatures inside can reach around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Firestorms are obvious, oncoming disasters.

Hard to believe, but, like I said, I’m less fearful of the terrible, nail-biting, hair-raising firestorm than the tricky, slick Muck and here’s why: I liken that pesky Muck to the frog in the boiling kettle anecdote.

Frogs in Kettles

You remember the frog in the kettle. The anecdote goes like this: if you put a fresh frog in boiling water, to save his hide, he’ll hop right out of the pot. But if you place the frog in tepid waters and slowly turn up the heat, the frog won’t notice and will continue to swim around until his legs eventually become someone’s five o’clock hors d’ovueres.

As I’m writing I’m harkened back to the beginning of March in 2020, when we got word the entire city would shut down for two weeks because of a then-called coronavirus that swept the nation. I told my team at work that day, we’ll either buckle down for a couple of weeks till this thing blows through, or we’re about to watch the drip, drip corrosion of our society—life as we know it will take a drastic turn.

Guess which thing I predicted happened.

Drip. Drip.

Here we are in October of 2021, and we’ve grown so tired of the daily drip, we’ve looked past the insanity before our eyes.

As far as the virus is concerned, we’ve gone from goals of herd immunity to goals of mass vaccinations to people who are cautious about vaccines losing their jobs. From hearing that masks don’t work to masks are mandatory, and the flip flopping came from the same person—the one in charge of the CDC. In a year, we’ve moved from the vaccines will protect you to the vaccines don’t protect anybody, but get one anyway. From denials by our government and trusted medical communities that fetal tissue is part of the vaccine make up to confessions privately taped that, oops, there just happens to be fetal tissue in at least one of the vaccine brands. And the Covid-19 virus? It was created in a lab , it was created in a bat, it was created by aliens. Which is it?


We’ve heard one side of the government aisle scream, “It’s her body, and right to choose,” when it comes to abortion, but the government rail, “Your body is ours,” when it comes to a virus.


Let us not forget the confusion with civil unrest. In 2020, we learned that you can openly and enthusiastically riot, loot, and destroy businesses in one city, while in others, you’re considered a terrorist if you peacefully protest.


As of this last week, moms and dads who want to speak to their elected school board officials at open meetings will be haunted by the [in my opinion, debunked] FBI. What happened to addressing our own elected officials, letting each know our desires? Aren’t they our public servants? Nope. As it turns out, they are tyrants seated on the golden thrones built on the backs of taxpayers.


And Censorship? Censorship has become what the social media platforms use as a magic wand. With the push of a button, controlling media giants can make your opinion or mine disappear. Like. We. Were. Nothing. What happened to free speech, healthy debate, and honest investigations? Gone with the push of a little delete box. Poof.


Children with a .05 percent chance of death by Covid are masked and vaccinated with no studies of long-term affects on the younger population. The CDC’s own VAERS numbers, are proving to be more than troublesome and no one is calling for a halt until further studies can be done.


As of today, in Chicago, rival thug gangs can conduct open-air daylight shootouts with no, zippo, nada legal repercussions. I suggest you stay away from Chicago in the daylight hours. Oh, and the night hours, too.


Have we lost our minds?

No. We’ve lost our passion for right and wrong, and like the frog in the kettle, as long as we can swim through life with as much normalcy as possible, we won’t notice that the water is heating up and we are headed to a boiling point.

9/11 – Case in Point

I keep thinking back to 9/11. That mind-blowing event came at us like a firestorm. Our whole nation mourned, churches filled to the brims, and prayer emails outnumbered the spam circulating through our In-boxes. We stared the enemy in the eye and said, never again. Thanks to our resolve and unity, a terrorist act of that magnitude has not happened on American soil since.

But here’s the difference between then and now. The enemy, then, came in like a firestorm and melted our hearts. In the face of that deadly force of evil, we rose and united.

It’s Alive – The Muck

Today, the enemy slinks around beneath our feet like the Muck fire, burning our foundational roots and corrupting our soil. We’ve hardly noticed because in the drip, drip, drip, of bad economic news, health woes, and political corruption, we’ve grown tired and just … want … our … lives …back. We’ve not united. We’ve thrown stones of blame at one another.

Our lives aren’t coming back, my friends. Everything from here on out will be radically different. I know this because I’ve read the book. The Word explains it all from how humankind came to be to how humankind exits the earth we know today.

And The Muck burns on.

But, as you’ll read in the Scriptures below, we need to protect our at-risk roots. And we must continue to plant seeds in the good soil that is eroding by the day. We must recognize the spiritual warfare below the surface of our society and fight like hell. Battle in the name of the Lord.

Protect Your Roots; Protect Your Soil

Jeremiah 17:11 – “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Mark 4:17 – And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Matthew 13:23 – As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Luke 8:15 – As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Let’s put out the Muck together.

Grab your fire hose. Spray and pray!!

If I perish, I perish,


Virgins and Oil — a lesson on entering the kingdom

Matthew 25: “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take extra oil with them; 4 but the prudent ones took oil in flasks with their lamps. 5 Now while the groom was delaying, they all became drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there finally was a shout: ‘Behold, the groom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 But the foolish virgins said to the prudent ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ 9 However, the prudent ones answered, ‘No, there most certainly would not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the groom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11 Yet later, the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Be on the alert then, because you do not know the day nor the hour.

The Kingdom Will be Like

The parable of the Ten Virgins begins with these words: “At that time, the kingdom of heaven will be like …” To fully understand what Jesus is saying to us through this parable, we need to know what “that time,” refers to. We need to consider this parable in context of what Christ was doing and who he addressed at the time.

The previous chapter, Matthew 24, is one of the most studied chapters of prophecy in the New Testament. Throughout this chapter, Christ answers two questions posed by His disciples. Their two queries are: 1.Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and 2. what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?

For forty-eight verses, Christ gives his disciples literal signs they will recognize as the times change and the earth prepares for Christ’s return. He also tells two my-return-will-be-like parables (Fig Tree and Faithful and Wise Servant). The last parable in chapter 24 is the parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant, a comparison of a devoted and watchful servant to a reckless and uninterested servant. The Ten Virgins story is another comparison—one that contrast those who are ready and watchful compared to those who have slacked off and find themselves ill-equipped for the wedding march.

Because of His Grace, We are Warned

Jesus is the embodiment of Grace. We experience that grace in these, sign-of-the-times verses in both Matthew 24 and 25. Though we are told He comes like a thief in the night, and no one will know what that exact hour is (Matthew 24:36-41), the plan of His return includes warnings, flags, and literal events that tell us the season (or the generation, or the era) of His return.

The gracious point of the signs and the parables is to prepare you and me, His beloved Bride, for His glorious coming. It’s our heads-up moment. It’s our onset of labor pains—the anticipated birth of new life. This beautiful time of preparation is truly grace upon grace on our Christ’s part.

In the parable of the Ten Virgins, at the most basic of interpretations, we see this fact: the wise virgins had the opportunity to buy and save their oil for the coming bride groom. The unwise virgins had opportunity to purchase oil but did not … until it was too late—the groom had arrived and taken the honored guests to the wedding while the five unwise virgins scrambled to make their purchases.


All ten women were invited to hold positions of honor at the wedding. All ten anticipated the ceremony and the coming groom. But only five of these virgins understood that the time of the groom’s return was near. And only five were found prepared with their oil when he came.

I personally believe that the oil in this parable is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Leviticus 2:1-2).

In biblical times, after a couple became engaged (legally married by covenant) a groom would go and prepare (build) a home onto His father’s house for his bride and future family. Meanwhile, the bride would prepare herself through purification and beautification for the upcoming wedding day. Selected bridesmaids—which were virgins—kept lamps of oil so that when the groom came (traditionally at midnight) to take the bride to a formal ceremony and wedding supper, he would recognize and collect the wedding party.

As the groom entered the village to gather the party and his bride, he would see the burning lamps of the bridesmaids waiting for his arrival.

Will You Join the Wedding

There are some who consider this parable to be a warning for those who believe they are saved but have yet to truly comprehend what that means, or who have been unwilling to pay the cost to follow Christ. This may be true, but I believe the timely point of the Ten Virgins parable is to ask ourselves this question:

Are we burning with passion, as we anticipate the coming of our Groom?

If your answer is yes, then I imagine you’re a true born-again believer who fully grasps the overwhelming glory that is soon to come. You’re looking past the troubles of this world and to the coming kingdom.

If your answer is no, then we need to get you some oil. Here’s the truth—our sins separate us from a loving God (Romans 3:23). The purchase of oil is as easy as *ABC.

A. Admit you’re a sinner. B. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. C. Call upon His name for salvation.  

Welcome to the Kingdom and a beautiful future. You’ll be in the wedding march on the day He returns for us. If not before, then I’ll see you there.

If I perish, I perish,

Laurie (L.G. Westlake)

The Rubber On My Road — The Name of Christ

Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

The rubber is hitting the road, my friends and this season, this time, this hour is our crucial moment of action.

The Backstory

For decades we wondered how it would happen. Over the last twenty-five years, I studied and pondered, and anticipated the coming quote-un-quote end times and thought myself somewhat prepared for things to come. Not physical preparation, but spiritual—ready to stand firm on my rock when times get hard.

I had no idea.

Though Jesus gave us a road map to the last days in His discourse to the disciples found in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, living in the smack dab middle of some of these prophecies, I’m like—I didn’t see that one coming.

Are you there with me?

And I think this is kind of the point. Not from Christ’s purposes—He wants us to be watchful and prepared (Luke 21:36- Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.) but from the demonic purposes (1 Timonthy 4:1 –The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.).

When I cannot see the next proverbial shoe about to drop because I am so focused on our earthly rights, earthly liberties, and lack of earthly normalcy, I am not watching for all things God—some of which are going to be difficult to praise Him through. (James 1:2 –  Consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials …)

The prophetic sign I didn’t see coming this past weekend was Luke 21:17, the “you will be hated by all people because of my name,” sign.

It Started with My Hair

I recently blogged about being persecuted (mildly) for my opinion on the explosive topic of mandatory shots, and that persecution started in a beauty salon. There must be something about me and haircuts because this encounter started with the same project—my unruly hair.

Out for a week-end getaway, it seemed a good time to get my over-do haircut because, remember, I’d canceled all the appointments with my current stylist because of said medical persecution in the salon a couple of months back.

After last-minute calling several local salons in Taos, New Mexico, I found a gal willing to take me on the next day. Because the owner explained there was construction in the area and I’d have to go behind a commercial building to find her shop, Steve and I decided to walk over and spot the place after a lovely dinner near the plaza. The temperature was an amazing sixty-five degrees and the evening magical (cue the Spanish guitar) as we strolled, evening lights twinkling in the breeze.

The Blond Young Man

We found the commercial building and started down a little alley beside it. As we rounded a corner, I saw a young man, homeless indicators around and scattered on the back steps of this building. Seated, he bent over to one side, a small white straw up his nose.

A boy and his drugs. Sad, sad, sight.

My heart sank but we walked by silent, heading for the condominiums another thirty feet away. I’d hoped we’d non-aggressively interrupted his activity and scared him off.

Into the wooded area with the super cool community of residences and businesses, we found the salon I’d be visiting the next day.


We turned to walk back to our truck on the other side of town. Passing back through the back parking lot of the commercial building and down the alley beside it (there was not other route), the boy and his straw sat on the steps, seemingly waiting for us. As we approached, he stood, arms opened wide.

“I know you were out for a nice walk, and I’m sorry you walked up on me, but … I … uh …have a respiratory infection and needed medicine…”

Steve walked a few steps ahead, but me and my unruly hair stopped to listen.

He carried on talking about the night, said something about a problem and not having support.” He wasn’t making complete sense, but he wanted to engage in a weird, apologetic way.

Living in Albuquerque, we encounter homeless people frequently and many, sadly, suffer from mental illness. Never has one apologized for his actions or talked in this likable way. So I stayed. Listened.

Steve had stopped as well but stood a few feet ahead of me.

The boy, probably in his late twenties, had a head full of shaggy blond hair. He looked healthy and not street worn like the increasing number of drifters at our Albuquerque corners.

The boy continued, his thoughts rambling a bit, but he slowed and said something about the condition of the world today. And then he took a breath.

I don’t subscribe to drive by evangelism (long African story), and I believe discipleship means an investment of time, energy, and resources. So, I’m not much for just throwing Jesus’s name around without having the fortitude to back it up in the moment. But in this instant, I went for it.

The Name Above All Names

“Do you know Jesus?”

Wrong question. (Or better said, right question.)

Even though, up until that point, neither Steve nor I had uttered one single word and the young man had done all the talking, he came unglued.

“Do I know Jesus?” he screamed. He spouted off some references to the Greeks, the Romans, and a Scripture that I couldn’t quite make out.

I waited, hoping. What for, I didn’t know. I only knew my feet were glued to the asphalt.

The blond man/child railed on, saying, “Yeah, I know Jesus. My father would beat me over Jesus and church and that ____ (insert bad word).

He rushed down the steps and got on the same plane as Steve and me. I shot a nervous glance at Steve, and like me, he seemed determined to just stay. No agenda, no words. Just presence.

When the boy took another breath, I said, “I’m sorry these things have happened to you.”

He retorted, “You’re not sorry. You’re a—and out from his mouth came a stream of words, a few bad, but most of which I didn’t recognize. Thank God.

Then he said, “Go. Get out of here.” He turned back for the steps, but whirled around again. Eyed me close. Dripping with sarcasm he asked, “You got a dollar?”

I hadn’t expected that question because, dumbfounded, I shook my head. I felt baited.

“I didn’t think so, Christian,” he retorted, seemingly repulsed. “Get the hell away from me.”

When neither of us moved, he rushed at me yelling, “Go!”

Steve, wise and realizing we weren’t going to have the moment I hoped for, motioned me away. He put his arm around me and we, together, stepped through the construction and back onto the street, heading for our car.

“Why didn’t I give him a dollar?” I asked, near tears. “Why didn’t I give him two?”

According to Scripture, we’re to give whenever someone asks. (Luke 6:30 — Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back).

Steve let me off the hook. “You knew what he’d do with the money.”

We have experience in the arena of addicts.

A couple of blocks away, we stopped at a red light and low and behold, I heard someone coming up from behind. It was him.

He started talking, mouthing, really, at us again. Instead of reaching into my purse and saying, here’s that dollar you needed … sorry I didn’t give it sooner, my jaw dropped and I stood there, unnerved. Even with other people around, he kept up the verbal smack assault.

Then he walked right through the red light, gave us a couple of hand gestures, and disappeared into the crowd.


When the light turned green, I came back to reality. Why didn’t I stop him and give him money this time? I’d just talked about it. I looked at Steve. Said, “I failed again.”

Steve said we should pray.

The rest of the night was hard. I cried. We prayed. A cloud of mourning hung at my heart all night.

Every time we went to town the next couple of days, I watched for the blond druggie with the mouth.

He was gone.

My Rubber on My Road

There is a myriad of lessons to learn from our brief and tragic encounter with a young man who might be compelled by demonic activity or might have a wound the size of the grand canyon. I’ll never know.

Not least of the questions I am asking is why was I so desperate to prove the boy wrong about Christians by throwing money at the problem? I hope I really wanted to demonstrate the Luke 6:30 verse and simply missed the opportunity.

But I also think we American Christians can falsely believe money solves most problems. Scripture tells us the love of money is a root of evil. I hope sharing money isn’t easier for me than sharing Jesus.

But as I’ve pondered my lessons over the last few days, I believe the Lord has me back in Matthew 24, verses 9-12:

9 Then they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 And at that time many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will rise up and mislead many people. 12 And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold.

In all my sign watching, I hadn’t been prepared for a small taste of persecution. In all my years walking with Christ, I’d never had someone, face to face, call me names and order me away because of my faith.

It was heart breaking. And it was weird.

So I’m back to getting prepared. Doing more than dumbfounded jaw drops, I am stepping up. I’m not sure what stepping up looks like, be it demon exorcisms in parking lots, or emptying my wallet when asked, but I, by golly, am not going to be so naïve to not expect the name of Jesus to evoke crazy reactions.

I will be hated because they hate His name. That, we have been told.

I’ll end with the verse we started with. Look back at Matthew 10:22. Perhaps I should rejoice. After all, if I’m not putting myself out there for Christ’s sake, I’m not messing in the viper’s nests.

The times call for nest messing.

Be brave, be bold, and be ever prepared.

If I perish, I perish,


The Fulani Herdsman Angel

Photo by Jim Richter on

The Angel—a Fulani Herdsman.

We’d had a rough second week—Steve tangled with malaria, all four of us had dysentery from eating one-week-old, unrefrigerated meat, and the nights were growing colder, making our outdoor bucket baths almost unbearable. Still, Mesa and I decided to make the trek to Sa’h, an African village some seven or eight miles on the other side of the mountain top knoll.

The Background

The year was 2002, and every missionary unit preparing for Bible translation work spent their last three weeks of African Orientation in separate villages. African orientation was a three-month introduction camp created to expose missionaries to all things Africa. We were in our last month and staying in Bi’h, a village of less than 500 people nestled in the northwest hills of N’du, an Anglophone area of Cameroon.

My husband Steve recovered from malaria in the dirt-floor, metal roof lean-to our Cameroonian hosts had graciously provided for the three-week stay. Our bed, an oversized, hay-stuffed plastic bag was not providing Steve comfort per se, but with malaria, bedding is not of primary concern. A body horizontal is.

Our eleven-year-old son, Sam, was out on another bird hunt with village boys. Sam seemed to meld into the culture wherever we journeyed. In Cameroon, he’d stripped half-naked and took up bird catching with organic glues pasted to tree branches—a village boy living the exotic life off the land.

Looking back at the walk to Sa’h, between my husband and daughter’s bouts with deadly malaria, I realize we’d let Sam become quite independent. His steadfast joy and rock-solid faith got us through the twists and turns of primitive missionary life for the year and half we lived in two African countries. I don’t think Sam knows that today, I still think back on the miracles, and marvel that God had a plan and I, honored as a mother, got to watch the Lord’s designs unfold.

 So on this day of which I write, Sam had ventured out into the great unknown of the northwest African hillsides, and though I don’t understand how I’d come to let it happen, I indeed let him romp through these wild adventures at the tender age of eleven. 

We’d received bad news from several fronts. The medical arm of Wycliffe in Dallas had sent word through the SIL arm in Yaoundé that our meningitis vaccines—taken while in Dallas—were discovered to be ineffective. A New Testament launch celebration had been planned in a village about two hours’ taxi drive away, and there’d been a meningitis outbreak in the area. We wouldn’t be able to go and dance or sing with the locals who, at last, received the life-saving words of the Gospel in a language they could understand. But considering Steve’s recovering condition, he wouldn’t have likely made the trip anyway.

That morning, as is the way in West Africa, we’d received news from the face-to-face telecommunication system of villagers passing along information that the woman of the missionary family at the next village closest to us, had fallen ill with malaria.

My nine-year-old daughter Mesa and I packed food and medicines. Then I sent Sam out with the village boys for that bird hunt. We checked in on Steve, who was well enough to tell us to be home before dark, and we walked out of our village to a winding mountain path, headed for Sa’h those seven to eight long miles away.

We didn’t know our trek would be a path of life lessons. Big ones.

The Road to Sa’h

In the remote hills of Anglophone Cameroon hiking was not necessarily safe. There were the beginnings of what is now a civil war in Cameroon. Occasionally, clashes between the French-speaking government and the English-speaking secessionists broke out, even back then. As well, we had limited communication opportunities (no cell, no internet), and no vehicles anywhere except for one cab per day that showed up to shuttle five or six people down the mountains to the N’Kambe, a town with at least one hotel and two restaurants. And, among the traditional religious people based mostly on animism, there were sprinklings of Christianity but also Islam, practiced in this area by the Fulani people group.

In the area we lived for three weeks, Fulani herded cattle.

After about an hour on the road to Sa’h, I had moved downhill into the tall grass on the other side of a tree to … uh … use the … uh … outdoor potty when a group of Fulani women passed on the road several yards above me.

They stopped to gape at the two white missionary females squatting in the grass.

After I finished my business, we stood, hearts in our throats, and returned their stares.

Even eighteen years ago, tensions between Muslims and Christians were evident.

The Fulani women pointed. Whispered.

My circulatory system froze over. I grabbed Mesa’s hand and tried to swallow my heart back down where it belonged.

And like butterflies flitting among the flowers, the women, robes trailing in the wind, glided down the hill to get a closer look at the wide-eyed strangers in their grasslands.

The tall and lightly-colored Fulani gals stopped about ten feet short of a real face-to-face encounter. Giggles followed by more pointing, and one of the group surprisingly ran back uphill and rushed up the road.

I hoped she wasn’t going for re-enforcements.

As Fulani are neither Anglophone nor Francophone, but speak Fula, the hand gestures started. Somehow, with a few recognizable local words, Mesa and I communicated we were staying in Bi’h and heading over to Sa’h for a friendly visit with friends. They indicated they lived nearby.

But when the one who had rushed away returned, she carried an opened tin can in her long slender hands.

Now with the important can in possession, the Fulani women moved in closer.

One nodded and offered the tin to me.

“What’s in it?” Mesa asked.

The can, warm in my hands, held … milk. Fresh, Fulani cow milk.

We’d all already suffered from dysentery and thoughts of pathogenic micro-organisms swimming around in the unpasteurized milk did cross my mind. But. But. When Africans offer you the fruit of their hands, which, in this case, was milk, you don’t politely decline as this would be an insult. You accept and partake.

Our drinking their offering of friendship brought wide smiles and, evidently, the invitation to touch. As happened many times when in public, the women surrounded Mesa and began to touch her locks, mesmerized by the blond color and lack of tight curl.

After more hand gestures and giggles, and sighs of an all-round satisfactory experience, we all moved back to the road. Mesa and I headed southeast to Sa’h. The Fulani went north.

I figured we were running about 45 minutes behind, but I wasn’t completely sure. In Africa, you don’t use a watch. Well, many Americans in Africa wear watches but most Africans will look at your time piece and consider it your master and you … the watch’s slave.

It’s also a sure sign that you’re a tourist.

I had put my watch away months before.

The rest of the trip to Sa’h was pleasant. In the early afternoon, semi-arid mountain air, I pondered the unreal situation—I had just spent forty or so minutes with a group of women whose religion historically opposed mine and now, my daughter and I walked a along a path in the west African rolling hills alone. Unbelievable.

Once we reached the village of Sa’h, which was larger than Bi’h, we asked around and were quickly directed to the home that hosted our missionary comrades. Mesa relieved the malaria-sick mom by entertaining the toddler and the rest of the afternoon was spent lunching with her host family, listening to my friend’s African village challenges, and sharing my own. We shared our chloroquine and I, observing the low tilt of the sun, realized we were further behind in our schedule than I wanted us to be. Steve had warned us to be home before dark for a reason. Wandering around in the countryside at night would be dangerous.

Back to Bi’h

We hustled along on the trip back to Bi’h, never stopping to admire the view or marvel at how we, two ordinary American gals were walking a trail in Africa.

With an estimated forty minutes left in our trek, we were tired, culturally spent, and with the light fading, hit a snag.

Or better said, we hit a herd.

Of cows.

At this point of the jaunt, the mountain side on our right sloped upwards, too great a degree to climb. To our left, the cow population stretched downhill creating too wide of an arc for us to traverse in the growing shadows.

A word on African cows: These are not your long-lashed Blue Bell dairy cow varieties. The African Zebu are colored muddy grey or red and both male and female host wicked-looking, curved-up horns. These cows are muscular, mean, and were not happy to see us approach.

The Zebu–all of them–shifted to face us. Unblinking, they stared. A couple shook their horns in warning.

Uh oh.

I gulped.

It was a face-off with African Zebu and the cows were set to win.

Meanwhile, the sun dropped a couple of feet in the sky.

The minutes ticked off, the cows growing confident. A couple of the giants stepped toward us.

Mesa and I stepped backwards.

More seconds passed.

Then she said it. My nine-year old daughter spoke the magical words. “Pray, Mom.”

Oh. Right. Pray. “Lord, we’re late, we’re scared, and we don’t know what to do. You are the great shepherd, please move those cows.”

We both opened our eyes and took deep, courage-seeking breaths.

I looked behind, thinking again, we should run back to Sa’h hoping Steve would figure we’d stayed the night for a good reason.

The cows didn’t move.

But then, as if they’d seen a ghost, the cows—all of them—flinched. Weirdly, the horned beasts bucked against each other.

Then? They ran.

The Zebu ran!

That’s right. Downhill they went. The massive cows scattered the hillside as the sun made its final descent.

Both our jaws dropped while we watched their hind ends disappear into the dusk.

Then I heard the whistle.

I whirled around to see a man, maybe six or seven feet behind us, staff in hand, and whistling a signal to the cows. He hadn’t been on the road when I had looked just seconds before.

And here’s the wild deal—the herdsman stopped his whistle but didn’t follow his cows downhill. He stepped around us, not saying a word, and continued on ahead. Quickly he rounded a corner of rock jutting into the road. Considering that our family had been the marvel of the village and not once had we encountered an African who didn’t either gape or attempt buoyant interaction, this man’s behavior seemed odd.

Mesa and I looked at each and then hurried to catch up, hoping that now it was dark, we could walk close to the man for added protection.

When we rounded the boulder corner, the road before us sat empty.

“Man, that guy is fast,” I stated, urging Mesa along. The sky morphed from murky grey to deep blue, stars sparkling.

We continued alone, eyes wide but with praises on our lips.

But where was our herdsman?

Another ten minutes and we saw a figure on the path a head, a flashlight in hand. As the outline of a man materialized, I realized someone walked toward us.

Had the herdsman come back to go and round up his cows?

Out of His Bed and on the Road

Closer … and … Steve came into view. Steve! He’d gotten out of bed when the sun began to set and he’d come to look for his wife and daughter.

We ran to him.

Group hug. 

And I asked, “Did you pass a man on the road? He scattered some mean, awful cows for us.”


“Just about ten minutes ago. Maybe you missed him?”

“No one has been on this road for thirty minutes.”

“Angel,” Mesa whispered. “He was an angel, Mom. An answer to your prayer.”

And so it was. A herdsman angel had appeared, keen to get us inexperienced first-world women off a dangerous road and into the arms of my husband.

We marveled. Pondered the miracle.

And just days later, Mesa fell incredibly ill with malaria, and we, though we almost lost her, received a second angel visit in the hospital where the meningitis outbreak had taken a toll. But that is another story for another time.

What I must never forget is that the Lord gives us just what we need just when we need it.

If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” – Luke 11:13

Got nasty cows in your path? Pray for a herdsman. Your God will deliver.

If I perish, I perish,


Insecurities, End Times, and Viruses

This is a blog about my insecurities, the end times, and viruses.


Yep, in the following pages, I will attempt to pull the three random topics together so that the fire that burns at my heart will simmer down.

Some of this is controversial and I cannot believe my fingers are participating by typing the words from my keyboard. Why? Because, in the past, I’ve stayed away from controversial topics in my blogs.

But as is the way of the Lord with me, when there is a topic that keeps me from sleeping, needles at me in the waking hours, and begins to burn that hole in my chest, I know it’s time to open my computer and get to typing.

To type or not to type has been a struggle for days. I’ve avoided this blog like the plague (pun intended).

You see, though I write about being brave and encourage all of you to do daring acts in the name of the Lord, I have this secret little fear that keeps me from approaching topics you might find hard to deal with.

It’s About Rejection

Here it is: I have a fear of rejection.

Seriously. In all my bravado, down deep, I really, really, really, want you to like and approve of what I’m writing.

I know, however, that some of you, after reading this blog, are going to shake your head and say something like, I knew it, that girl is not vaxxed, reading conspiracy theories, and probably has a foil, antennae hat at her bedside.

But in order to practice what I encourage, I’m going to do this.

The Salon Was First

It all started at the salon.

You know, you can learn just about anything by listening to people talk with their hair stylist. Such was the case with a recent haircut. We all wore the mandatory masks, and me with my hearing issues, I can’t believe I was able to hear the woman in the chair next to me rant on and on about how nonvaxed people were soooooo stuuuupid. The dialogue eventually spilled out of her chair and onto my own stylist who had those sharp scissors in hand. So when my gal asked if I’d been vaxed, my answer was a meek and quiet, “Not yet.”

I felt stupid, guilty, and after setting my next appointment with my stylist before I left the salon, I came home, and like a chicken, canceled all future hair cuts.

Next came the lunch with friends.

The inevitable and dreaded subject of vaxes came up. Because I work with an international ministry and many (including myself and my husband) travel internationally, the issue of mandatory vaxes for flights or certain destinations is always there, the unspoken question at the end of every conversation concerning upcoming trips. In this case, one of us was about to leave to return to her home country that was in the process of locking down with new restrictions taking shape. The question popped out of someone’s mouth and the discussion began. None at the table had yet to receive the shot. But here’s where it got weird, as we discussed the pros the cons, the limits this might have on our personal ministries and our agency, every time someone in the restaurant, including the waiter, passed close to our table, we dropped our volume to a notch above whisper or stopped the conversation until all ears were clear.

As we left, I felt like an imposter. Why, in the land of free speech, would I feel the need to whisper as if I talked about a crime I’d committed?

And then there was that day the one person who mentioned that some of her distant family members had contracted that particular virus that’s going around and how, well … they made their decision about not getting vaxed … and if you make that decision and get the dreaded virus … you … get this … deserve it.


And like most of you, I’ve read scathing social media posts from both sides of the aisle: pro and con vax opinions. What startles me is the judgement — how we, the unvaxed are people without hearts. Or intelligence, it seems.

As I contemplated Hippa privacy rules of days gone by; the my body, my choice movement of abortion; and how I as a 62 year-old woman today, can identify as a 50 year-old male tomorrow and be accepted into the men’s room … well, how in the world did my decision to fight the virus in an alternative method become a point of shame?

It’s not right.

I should not feel shameful.

No More Shame

And yet, that is exactly the point of the fear mongering. Spread fear and where fear does not take root, sprinkle in guilt and shame and you’ve got the makings or a civil war.

This is but one reason the Lord’s Word continually tells us to fear not. And this is a good place to insert Joshua 1:9:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

And then … and then … there was the daughters-with-Covid incident. A friend and coworker’s daughter, living in another state developed Covid and was very sick for days. One week later, my daughter developed Covid and was sick for days, but didn’t have as many symptoms as my friend’s daughter. Both women are in their twenties, both live alone, both their mothers were in distress.

The difference between the two? Vaxcines. My friend’s daughter has been fully vaxed and still wore a mask at work (some). My daughter is not and works where few people wear masks.

Another difference? My friend and coworker asked publicly for prayer, even on social media. I, asked only for prayer from a few people I felt I could trust not to judge my precious child.

Both daughters have recovered. Both daughters are thankful for prayer.

But that was the last straw for me. No longer, I decided, was I going to let what other people thought about my current health status or my family’s decisions about how we deal with a global pandemic, keep me from asking for prayer.

And I realized, if I have been silenced, so have others.

But how do we break out of the silence and yet speak in a way that isn’t equally as damaging to those who have chosen to vax? How do we bridge this gap and have open, healthy dialogue about what to do with this pandemic?

Finding Answers

I turned to the Word.

God’s Word hosts the answer to all of life’s questions and when it comes to illness, the answers are clear. It’s not a question of vaxines. It’s a question of prayer.

Matthew 8:16-17 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, {17} that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”

At the cross, Jesus bore our sicknesses. It is finished. We, though temporarily dwelling in broken and decaying bodies, will one day very soon be in imperishable bodies. The prophecy concerning Christ’s coming and holy power is fulfilled. Period.

Deuteronomy 32:29See now that I Myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of My hand.” ~

God is either in control or He isn’t. There is no fence riding to be done here. Am I going to believe He is master of my fate, or am I going to follow man’s new rule born of evil intent? I choose Sovereignty. It takes all the hard stuff out of my hands.

I’m not saying the Lord doesn’t use doctors to diagnose or medicine to heal, but ultimately, life and death are in our God’s hands alone.

James 5:14-15Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…”

Clearly the biblical mandate for illness is collective prayer from the saints. As Christians, we are called to pray when one of our own is ill. This is God’s unquestionable will.

I also contemplated the end times and how we’ve been warned, time and again, that in the days leading up to the rapture and Great Tribulation, things are going to get spooky including the onset of plagues. Why then is there so much fear, shame, and argument about the current pandemic? We should have seen it coming and been spiritually prepared.

2 Timothy 3:1 -“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.”  

Matthew 24:7  – “and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes’ ”

Mark 13:7  -‘When you hear of wars and rumours of wars do not be frightened’ ”

Luke 21:11 – “ … and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven’ ”

Mark 13:19 -“For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now.’ ” –

We’re also given a look as to how these wild and wooly things can happen right under our righteous noses.

2 Timothy 3: 1-7: But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these. 6 For among them are those who slip into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:11-13 – “For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”

My Journey

In case anyone is curious as to how I came to my current decision regarding the shot, I researched both sides of the aisle. I had a lot of questions and wasn’t finding a lot of consistent answers, which, ultimately kept me from making the choice to proceed. I am currently confident that my choice is not putting others at risk as news about the massive vax efforts continue to morph. I compiled a list of news’ statements from sources that have opposing views so that I could read it all in one place. This helped me visually see the opposing data and sort of organize it mentally. With my limited understandings of viruses and how they mutate, I have decided to wait until further information is available.

In no way am I advocating against or for the vax. I want to state here that the science is not clear as there are very opposing views on just what the vax can and cannot do. Some doctors and biologists have even stated that the massive vax is contributing to current outbreaks of new viral variants.

I’ll leave that for each of you to determine for yourself. I do encourage thorough research.

So now you can delete. But I hope you won’t.

My encouragement is to constantly turn to the Word, especially in the days ahead. This is where our truth lives, as relevant today as it was two-thousand plus years ago. There is no news article, no government, no freedom cause, no doctor’s opinion that can take the place of the Wisdom of God. We need to seek spiritual wisdom like our lives depend upon it. Because … our lives depend upon it.

Thanks for indulging me.

If I perish, I perish,


Why This Novel Now?

That is the view from my house in Albuquerque.

The History

I grew up in a small town in the big, loving heart of Texas. We didn’t lock our doors, went to church on holidays, and knew the mailman and the ice-cream truck driver by name. Mine was a charmed life—one I have come to appreciate more these days, not so much as I grow older—although that’s true—but as I witness a shift in our culture.

My now-adult children spent their earliest years in the same little town. But morals had already begun to shift, even back then. When crime stats increased, we began locking our doors. When sexual assaults and child abductions made the news, we kept our children inside. And when reports of junior high kids experimenting with drugs became common place, we introduced terrifying topics to young, impressionable minds.

Today, I live in the big city of Albuquerque, home to famous New Mexico cuisine and beautiful desert landscapes. I love our arid terrain flanked by alpine mountains. I enjoy the melting pot of cultures here and the unique architectures that are a nod to this state’s rich and diverse history. These are just a few of the good reasons my adopted state is called the Land of Enchantment.

Sadly, New Mexico also leads our nation in per capita heroin-related deaths. Albuquerque is a transshipment point for heroin destined for the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest. There are gang-infested parts of this town you don’t take your children to.

So when I started writing Calculated Risk, I wanted to spotlight the beauty of Albuquerque, but also the reality of the drug industry here. One of my grown children is a recovering heroin addict. I’ve lived the devastation that greed-hungry cartels have brought to our cites, our towns, our homes. Our family has walked a path I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

But yet, I wanted to write a book of hope, inspiring readers that the battle of good vs evil can be won … will be won because the battle belongs to the Lord.

The main character (Isa Philipps) is a forensic accountant with the Houston Police Department, and she is looking for answers to her husband’s death. He was supposed to be on an undercover narcotics assignment in Houston. But when his body was found in Albuquerque, she quit her desk job and heads to Albuquerque’s seedy drug underworld to find those answers.

During her journey, Christ and all things grace are introduced to Isa through a quirky, Indigenous American named Awena. From the Navajo tribe, Awena’s faith is couched in the culture of her own upbringing on the reservation.

Having served in both long-term and short-term mission projects, I came to understand that Christianity looks different in the backdrop of other lands. Though we serve the same God, believe in the same Christ, and are filled and taught by the same Holy Spirit, faith manifests itself through diverse cultures differently. While living in the Congolese Rain Forest in West Africa were everything about my life was challenged, I learned that much of my faith reflected American culture instead of Christ. And so it is through Awena’s character that I hope to introduce the idea that Christian fellowship doesn’t have to look like it does in the church building down the street. In a round hut in Africa, it looks like two hours of singing and multiple people sharing testimony and teachings. In the laundry mat in the inner city, it looks like unconditional support, even if you show up smelling like alcohol with your clothes soiled.

Because of Isa struggles with distrust from past relationships, I wanted Awena to be someone that challenged Isa’s logical mind but also offered simple, straightforward Christ-like love. I created Awena to be the home space Isa never had.

While I fear the realities of my own life may make you think this book is dark and heavy, it isn’t! There’s humor, knuckle-headed moves on the main characters’ parts, and a happy ending as long as you don’t expect everything to be completely neat and tidy in your endings.

Hey, I tried to keep it real.

And by the way and just because so many people have asked, a forensic accountant is an accountant who finds court-admissible evidence in white-collar financial crimes. Forensic accountants are those folks who love law and order and spreadsheets. They are nerds with guns. I love that.

Make it brave day and this fun story here: