Bible, family, God, My Story

Let the Son Shine In


I find it amazing how much sunlight affects a person’s mood. Just the other day we had a break from the many days of cloudy gloom when the sun came out. There might as well have been trumpets blowing and confetti guns shooting high into the air, because that’s what it felt like inside of me. Everything was exploding with happy goodness! It never gets old. I’m always amazed at how much of a difference sunlight can make in my attitude.

My kids’ happy drawings on our sunny day

Thinking on why sunlight has this happy effect on people (at least me) and gloomy darkness doesn’t, made me remember something from my childhood. It has to do with light and dark. When I was younger if I heard something said, I took it quite literally. My thoughts were often very black and white, right and wrong, this and that. (on a side note, this made me very gullible)

I carried this same literal understanding when I heard or read something in the Bible. I never took into consideration who the author was writing to or what time period it was being written in. Instead, I thought that every passage was literal and for the exact here and now. So, when I heard the Bible passage of John 3:19-20, I ended up having some interesting concerns. Here is what the passage says: 

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

Darkness and Evil…

Remember how I thought of a childhood memory? Well, here it is. When I was younger, I was really worried for one of my brothers. You see, he really liked watching his tv shows and movies in the dark. He preferred the lights out and darkness. I, on the other hand, did not. I wanted to have as much light on as possible all the time. I recognized this difference between us and thought about the verse. “But people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light.”

Was my brother evil? He loved the darkness. The Bible said that those who loved the darkness were evil, at least that’s how my childlike mind applied it. So, if my brother loved literal darkness, then he must be evil! This just didn’t sit well with me. When I thought about my brother, I couldn’t see him as being evil. This was my kind brother who watched out for me and loved Jesus too. I couldn’t reconcile what I thought the Bible was saying with what my experience was.

Perhaps this was one of my first times of really trying to figure out what the Bible meant in this instance. I admit that at my young elementary age, I did not try to delve any deeper to figure it out. I didn’t ask my parents for help in understanding this – probably because I didn’t want to get my brother in trouble in case he really was evil. I just held onto this question all my life, but usually pushed it aside when it came up and chose not to interact with it. For years, I wondered, but never searched out the answer.

Light in the Dark…

Now, as a grown person, I understand things so differently. God is not saying my brother is evil because he prefers to watch tv and movies in the dark. As an adult, I now know that MANY people prefer this way to watch screens because it enhances the picture. Indeed, it helps the LIGHT on the screen shine brighter! We can see the light better when it is dark.

This too isn’t an all together extra-Biblical observation – light shining in the darkness. There are a few places in the book of Isaiah where we see this. 

Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress…

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Isaiah 8:22-9:2

It goes on to say that the people will have increased joy and shattered yokes from their burdens. It finishes with the well-known passage, ‘For unto us a child is born’ of which Jesus’ government and peace will have no end! Later on in Isaiah it says:

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.

 The Lord will guide you always;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Isaiah 58:9b-11a; 12b

So, how does watching movies in the dark correlate with getting out in the sunlight? Well, there are many times when things in the world feel gloomy, cloudy, and dark. It can seem like everywhere we look we see evil. But in the darkness, we have the opportunity to be the ‘son-light’ for others and show Jesus’ light more clearly. Just like the natural sun brightens the innermost being of people, so too can Jesus, the ‘son’ in us!

Arise and Shine…

We can bring the LIGHT! So, when we feel the gloom of the darkness in our world settling upon us, we can remember that we have the SON who shines on us, in us, and through us… living inside us! We can do as Isaiah says

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

Isaiah 60:1

Because we have Jesus living in us, we too can ARISE, SHINE and have THE GLORY OF THE LORD RISE UPON US. Now GO! Shine your light!

Shine Your Way – Owl City & Yuna (The Croods)
Adoption, Bible, family, God, Kingdom, Leadership, My Story, Praise and Worship

Have Fun and Obey

What’s going on?…

It started with a look. I could tell she was processing something. She seemed a little worried, a bit fearful, and agitated. I decided we should try worshiping together (kids and me) and then see if we could do some spontaneous prayer-worship afterwards. It sounded great to me, but none of my kids went for it. As I sang on my own I noticed my daughter drawing ever more inwards focused. Soon she was crying and when our time of singing was done she ran up to her room and locked the door.

Photo by Kat Jayne on

Oops. Did I go too far in requiring us all to worship together? Even though I was hoping this would be a moment where we’d all rally together through music, my expectation didn’t happen. What did happen was that the emotions being held down by ‘strength of will’ came to the surface. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I experience that all the time when I’m worshiping Jesus – Smiles and Tears. It was no different in my kids. The emotions of stress rose to the surface and now I had three kids with varying degrees of emotional stress needing me. Worship helped me and the kids finally be ready to talk about what worries they have had over the recent changes in our lives. So, it still turned out to be a helpful time, just different than I expected.

Being Comforted…

As I went upstairs to talk to my daughter, I hoped she’d open up and let me help her. PHEW! She opened the door to me and allowed me to hug her while she cried. Then she shared her worries. It was related to Coronavirus. Through tears she told me that she was afraid that her grandparents and our new (yet to be adopted) baby might get sick. She didn’t want them to get sick. She was worried for them and that caused her to have some pretty big stress hanging around her. I was so surprised at the depth of compassion she had! I didn’t know that was what was worrying her! I thought she’d be more worried about her own health. Not so.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Doing the Right Thing…

It was the answer that God gave me in the moment that stuck with me most. I could tell that my sweet, kind, and oh-so-responsible kid was taking on a load much too big for her. She was wanting to be sure that she was doing the right things to keep others from getting sick. The only problem was that she didn’t know what all those things were. And, as we’re all well aware, the guidelines were/are changing regularly. She felt a level of responsibility over this COVID-19 stuff.

At that moment, I told her that her only responsibility was to have fun and obey her parents. (Yes, I’m sure there are many other responsibilities, but that’s what was needed at that instant.) I then went on to explain that it’s my responsibility to keep track of the guidelines that the government is giving us. It’s my job to listen to the press conferences, check the news, and keep updated on other notifications. Then I would tell her what she needed to know. As long as she obeyed what I said, then she’d be doing the ‘right thing.’ That was her job – obey her parents.

Responsibility: Have Fun and Obey…

As I thought about this a bit more, it became apparent to me that this is a lesson for adults too. In the midst of a constantly changing atmosphere of rules and regulations, it’s our job to obey too. It’s not our responsibility to know all the ins and outs of what’s happening or even how to defeat this disease. We have lawmakers, government officials, and other well-educated-in-these-areas people to do that. If we as citizens listen and obey the guidelines set forth, then we’re fulfilling our responsibility. We can allow the governing officials to do the higher level work in this area.

Then, as usually happens, another area of realization came to mind. I was discussing all this with my sister-in-law when she sweetly pointed out that it’s also like this in our Christian walk. As God’s children, it’s our responsibility to obey God. We don’t have to know all of the information. We don’t have to plan or make perfect decisions. God is the one that has the ultimate vantage-point and information to help us as we go about fulfilling our purpose. He guides us to what’s best and it’s our responsibility to have fun and obey our Parent, God. 

Photo by nappy on

This is so true! When God asked me to start writing this blog, I thought I had heard wrong because surely God wouldn’t ask me to write a blog. That was nowhere near my desire or my experience. In fact, I had tried blogging before and stopped after just one post! But, I obeyed. And now, almost a year later, I can see the trail of good things that have come about because I obeyed – and I even had a little fun. 😉 God knew the bigger picture and I didn’t have to know it in order to obey.

So, what about you? How does this look in your life? I’d be so interested to hear a little story from you. When has God asked you to obey …and have fun?

P.S. My daughter gave me permission to share her story, although I doubt she’d want people to talk with her about it face to face. 🙂

Bible, My Story

Coronavirus. What Else?

Unstable and Fluid…

What do you write about when everything around you seems to be shifting. The things that are supposed to be stable have suddenly become unstable and fluid? If you’re reading this ‘in real time’ then you know what I’m talking about: Coronavirus or COVID-19. So, do I choose to ignore the reality of the general cloud of fear and caution that’s enveloping our society right now or do I give in and write about it? After all, what do I have to say? How could writing about it be a help? Isn’t it just feeding into the crazy and uncertain feelings that are swirling all around?

Well, I’m not sure. I debated back and forth about whether or not to address it and I landed on going ahead and writing about it. I mean, the blog is often read in real time. Not to mention that I’ve chosen to write this blog about ‘the things I ponder’ and right now I’m pondering Coronavirus. I feel like I’m getting a new update or a new email every hour! I find myself incessantly checking my email to see if there’s been yet another update. If there isn’t one I’m left with a funny feeling of being alone. (I was home alone this afternoon, so there wasn’t anyone to reflect with on this face to face.) It seems like there’s been so much ‘connection’ due to the many updates that the lack of them almost feels ominous and isolating!

Some of my emails/notifications from one source in one day

Then there are the times when, YES, I get an update email! I click to open it up and what do I see? Another way that my life is going to be changing immediately. These changes are not by my choice, but by the institutions that lead in certain areas of my life. So, when I see a new change, my mind starts mentally making adjustments to my upcoming routine and with each new change it opens my mind to seeing yet another possible area of change that might be coming down the line. It feels really strange. In some ways it’s reminiscent of other times in my life when things changed without my control, but I’m not going to go in that direction for this post.

Real People…

So, where does all this leave me? What am I supposed to do? How do I manage what’s happening? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. Sometimes, I think the answer isn’t to worry. Other times I think it’s to throw caution to the wind! I mean, after all, I’m young and strong and so are my kids. We have nothing to worry about! Oh wait… my mom and in-laws and even some of my students are in the age range that’s being more negatively affected by this virus. I don’t like that. I don’t want them to be sick.

Me, Mom, Sisters Lynette and Joy

What about discussing travel with my friends? I had a thought just last week while discussing travel with a friend, ‘Well, sure! Go on the trip! Even if you get sick, many people are recovering’ Then immediately I remembered that this friend is immune compromised and now I think of yet another friend who is also in the same boat. These are friends my age who have had to go through enormous health struggles and life changes already! I find myself thinking about them and how this could affect them. I don’t like this. I don’t want them to get sick.

I guess, there’s no easy answer of what or how to think about all that’s shifting and unsure in the country and world right now. But, taking the time to actually think about the different people in my life and their unique situations is bringing more compassion and understanding to my mind. I can see how for some of us, it’s just another illness, but to others it’s actually really scary. That’s not easy. I don’t like thinking about that. It causes me to worry.

The Extreme of Fear…

Due to my past propensity to instantly live in fear, I recognize well when it starts to creep back in. I feel the inner panic start to well up and then I put a lid on it by ignoring the news coverage. I feel the ‘what-ifs’ start to speak and I fight against them by down-playing the losses that others have suffered. Both of these are extremes that I go to in order NOT to go to the other extreme of fear. But is there another way? 

Why don’t I want to look at the bad side of this thing? For me, it’s the icky feelings that come with it. I feel sad that there has been a loss of life around the world. I feel heartbroken that sick people are being seen almost like outcasts and anyone who might be associated with the sick, through appearance or nationality, are also being seen that way (by some, not all). I feel confused. I don’t have enough information to have clarity of what this illness is like. I haven’t seen it up close and personal. I just don’t know. There are a lot of questions and uncertainty.

Inside, I label these feelings ‘bad’ because I don’t like the way I feel when I experience them, but a feeling is just a feeling. It’s not good or bad. A feeling can help me sort through what’s really going on in my mind and heart. A feeling can move me to a greater level of compassion and understanding. A feeling can motivate me to encourage those around me who are in a similar situation as me; what do I do and how do I respond?

The Answer of Jesus & Peace…

The only response I can have is to turn to Jesus. I know, I know, everyone is saying that. Well, why is everyone saying that? Because it’s TRUE! Jesus is my PEACE. Isaiah 9:6 tells us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace! 

Through Jesus Christ ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [my] heart and [my] mind.’ (Phillipians 4:7 ESV) When the fears come against my heart and my mind, I can call out to Jesus and His peace will come as a guard! I don’t know how it happens – it surpasses all understanding, including my own. I don’t need to know how it happens, I just need to trust. I need to rest in the One who is called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’

And so, in the turmoil of things being everchanging, I choose Peace over fear. And if I feel myself heading towards fear again, I’ll make another choice for Jesus and Peace. Over and Over until it’s settled into my heart and my mind. I choose Jesus. Who or what will you choose?

God, Kingdom, My Story, Voice

Helping Others Achieve Freedom

Historical Persons…

Lately, my third-grader has been learning about all sorts of great historical figures through her class projects at school. I’ve been answering questions for her and helping her understand some of the harder, more grown-up concepts that make these people great and remembered. 

When it was time to learn about Harriet Tubman, my heart swelled. I remembered how I felt as a child while learning about her story. I thought she was so brave and courageous! She was a hero to so many, and to me. My heart burst with joy that through her acts, so many people were led to freedom. Truly she was a marvelous woman. 

Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Cambridge, Md. mural by Michael Rosato

I hadn’t thought about my feelings towards Harriet Tubman for 25 years! But, relearning her story anew with my daughter, brought it all back. I was surprised that the depth of emotion over her legacy still rang out in my heart as an adult. It made me wonder why it was such a big deal to me. So, I asked God. “God, why does my heart feel so connected to Harriet’s story? What is it that connects so deeply in me?”


“FREEDOM,” He said. God showed me that my connection to Harriet Tubman’s story when I was a child was a foreshadowing of what He tucked away in my heart for my future. The thread of wanting to see people set free has run through my life since I was a child. It’s one of the purposes God’s made me for. He made me to partner with people (and Him) to see them set free from the chains and weights that hold them back. 

While teaching singing, I see many students hindered by timidity, uncertainty, and hiding. But through voice lessons, students gain confidence, joy, and inner-comfort at sharing their God-given voices. Still other students have come to my studio exhibiting a need to control their voices, their emotions, and even their appearance in a way that ends up inhibiting the natural voice inside them. As we move through lessons, these things begin to melt away and they experience freedom in their voice and freedom to trust themselves and others; to truly BE the fullness of who they are without worrying how they’ll be perceived. In all these ways, my students move from some type of bondage, whether inner or outer, to a freedom that propels them forward as vocalists and people! FREEDOM!

My heart is burdened when I see people going through relational difficulty. Now, I don’t have it all together in this area, but God’s taught me so many things and brought me through so much that I can perceive more relational un-health than I once had. So, when I notice people in tough relational situations, I want to run to them and share my story of how God showed me a better way to relate. I want to see life growing between people and not dying off. My heart is so uplifted when I can engage with other people to help them regain, maintain, or start fresh in relationships with a new perspective on how to relate to others. Hearing their stories of how they were immovable in relationships and partnering with them to now be more fluid and free brings me great joy. FREEDOM!

The Past. Need I say more? Perhaps one area that I see more bondage, oppression, and being ‘under the thumb of’ is The Past. Why, oh why does the past have such an effect on our present? I’m still in process, but I have learned that my past reframed so many situations as I went through life, making it so I couldn’t see the truth. There was a jadedness that kept me from truly trusting, rejoicing, thinking the best, and hoping again and again. It was so closely related to many areas of my past. Through much prayer, conversation, and good community, God has brought healing. He freed me from many parts of my past! Now, I want to see EVERYONE ELSE set free from the past that has them in chains. Chains of unforgiveness, control, fear, doubt, worry, self-image, trauma, pain, punishment, bitterness, defeat, and so much more. It’s so encouraging to pray people through the pain and see the smiles light up their faces on the other side! What joy there is in being set free! FREEDOM!

What About You?…

So, what about you? Can you think of a historical figure that you really took interest in as a child? What is it about that person that you see showing up in your present life? I’d LOVE to hear about it.