The Junk Drawer

I needed the Phillips-head screwdriver, which was supposed to be in our kitchen’s junk drawer.

I sifted through the chaotic space, searching wildly, and without luck.

For a person who cherishes the neat and the tidy, I was horrified at this state of disarray. A disaster! How had I allowed it to become such a wreck? The previous week my husband had combed through it in search of super glue. The week before that it had been scissors. And prior to that? Tape.

With the Phillips-head nowhere in sight, I was done, frustrated, and now determined to fix the real problem, which was not a missing tool.

My problem was a dreadfully disordered drawer.


One hour and eighteen dollars later, I held a junk drawer organizer in my hot little hands. In only a matter of minutes, peace and order returned.

Band-Aids, cough drops, screwdrivers, scissors, rulers, chip clips, pencils, sharpies, post-it notes, tape, birthday candles, super glue, nail clippers, and even a mini flashlight now each have their own compartments.

We slide open the drawer and take what we need.

It works.


Unless you are living beneath a rock, I do not have to explain that disorder is decimating our culture. The ruler of this world, Satan, is having his heyday. It won’t last. (Revelation 20:7-10)

But in the meantime, I ask you: As a Christian, how do you plan to flourish spiritually in such chaos?

Perhaps it is time to clean out your junk drawer.

Go ahead–start by emptying the contents and tossing everything that is displeasing to God.

Your Bible will serve as your junk drawer’s organizer.

We have the only instruction book required for living well, and it is the Good Book. In order to know it, you first must read it. This requires setting aside gentle swells of time to spend with the Lord.

Be unrushed in your prayer and Bible study time, as you read God’s Word, savoring this treasure. Seek to obey the Lord as you learn what he loves and what he opposes and what he requires. Do not rely on Sadie from small group or Steven from Bible Study to be your conduit to truth. We are living in warped times, where multitudes of professing Christians are not only embracing but sadly teaching worldly solutions to spiritual problems.

Truly, you must know God’s Word for yourself.

And it is paramount, kind reader, to faithfully teach your children and grandchildren the delight of obedience to God through Scripture.


Explain that God created the entire universe with his strong voice. (Genesis 1) Step outside with your family and name the constellations and discover the face of the moon. Openly wonder at the shapes of the cumulus, cirrus, and stratus cloud formations. Show your loves the difference between the brilliant maple trees and the stately pines. Toss whirly birds into the air and watch them flutter earthward.

Tell them that our Creator knows the number of hairs on their little heads (Luke 12:7) and that he painted the beautiful color of their eyes. (Psalm 139:13-14) Emphasize that God never makes mistakes and that all of his promises hold true. (Psalm 145:13) Inform them that God intentionally fashioned our microscopic DNA, weaving us together.

Speak truth:

We must respect and honor the fact that God made you, my dear son, to be a male, and you, sweet granddaughter, to be a female. (Genesis 1:27) Children, God was not joking when he created each one of us, and we must never disagree with his perfect design and craftsmanship by trying to be something we are not.

Never, ever, apologize to your children and grandchildren for that which God created, declaring it to be good.

With these thoughts in place, God’s Word front and center, you have now given your children and grandchildren a biblical framework in which to place life’s tools. It will now make better sense to them as you seek to help them deposit godly tools in life’s drawer, while discarding the world’s lies right into the trash can.

As you model joyful, narrow-way living, do not swerve from direct Bible reading and discussion. You will be bombarded with other options, so flashy! so fun! Build the wisdom and discernment to say No, firmly and graciously declining, willfully discarding poor choices in favor of God’s way. Children will gladly rise to the level of expectation that you set. Open your Bible and expect them to open theirs. It is delightfully simple, and children are perfectly capable of understanding clearly spoken truth.

Teach truth to your children and grandchildren when they lie down, and wake up, when you go out for ice cream, and play on the swing set, when you drive home from the ball game, and when you throw stones in the pond. Laugh and have fun and build memories and forts and sandcastles and snowmen. Enjoy the goodness of God through the pleasures of nature and the gift of family.

Practice spiritual discernment before your family, another invaluable tool for life’s drawer as you seek to choose godly friends, good books, and kind speech. Flood another compartment with Scripture memory, and another with humble service to others. Teach your children and grandchildren that they are not the center of the universe, and neither are you–God is. They are not to be worshiped, and neither are you–God is. Pray together and openly model confession and repentance and forgiveness.

Instruct your children in the joy of obedience to you as parents. Your little ones must first respect and obey you before they learn to fully respect and obey God. Love them enough to discipline them well.

I once taught a children’s Sunday School class in which a youngster consistently rebelled, throwing furniture and dark scowls and unkind words around the room. It stunned me until I realized that this child was permitted to run the show at home by controlling the mood of the house. The child’s parents did not discipline their youngster, and clearly feared their offspring more than God. This kindergartener was never required to obey and was therefore utterly miserable–perpetually angry and rebellious.

Living in obedience to the Lord is serious, serious, business. Our children and grandchildren are observing what we believe to be true, through our actions.

The Biblical order of the home is clear: little ones are to obey their parents in the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1) Wives are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22), and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). If this hierarchy is out of whack, the family will not thrive.

God is kind to give us the blueprint of well-ordered living, isn’t he? Obedience to Scripture it is meant to bless us.

The next compartment?

Transparency in sharing the real hardships that authentic Christianity brings. (John 16:33) This understanding of truth is a tool children must have. If you insist that life is meant to be all blue skies and smooth waters, your family will be prone to giving up or giving in to sin when difficulties arise through obedience to following Christ. And as you truly follow him, hardships will multiply. (1 Peter 4:12)

Another crucial compartment to fill is your unwavering commitment to be in church every single week. Your family’s spiritual health depends upon it. Our prone-to-wander hearts must be under the regular teaching of God’s Word in order to mature, and not in a once-in-a-while fashion. This habit will reap spiritual dividends, deepening those roots of faith. Place the priority of consistent church attendance above sports, shopping, birthday parties, work, sleeping in, and socializing.

We are instructed to not forsake meeting together. (Hebrews 10:25)

So don’t.

From time-to-time I counsel women who are desperate and hurting, their lives in shambles, disordered from top to bottom. Mothers and wives and daughters suddenly at loose ends. There is a common theme at play, and it goes like this:

I don’t know what’s wrong…our family attends church at least once a month, (excuse my dusty Bible, we are just so busy with sports and birthday parties and vacations) and I drop my children off at youth group once a week. Shouldn’t that be enough to do the trick?

Do the trick?

The trick of forming ardent Christ-followers, burning with devotion to God?

I assure you, there are no tricks.

There is a simple drawer of God-honoring disciplines, based purely on Scripture.

And each person, within each family, must learn to reach for those tools.

But to own the tools you must first truly love and cherish God above all else. If your confession of faith is false, your life will eventually prove it.

The beauty of submission to God leads to a rightly-ordered life.


Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Psalm 119:133

Gone Fishing

Actually, I am not gone, nor am I fishing, but I am knee deep in a few projects.

Plus, I am pushing away from my desk in order to spend uninterrupted time with my favorite girl in the whole world, as she is home for Spring Break.

I have been told that there are some new readers here, so this week I have decided to dip back into the archives and link to a few stories for your reading pleasure.

Thank you, kind readers, for gracing me with your time.




It Rots the Bones

My Brother

That One Common Ache

The Story of the Substitute

Just Do It

My favorite pastime, hands down, is walking.

I thrive on long walks, listening to podcasts, or sermons, or music, occasionally removing my earbuds, enjoying the notes of nature. Up and down the hilly paths I fly, deeply inhaling the clean, fresh air, observing robust wildlife: bright songbirds and Canada geese, clusters of deer, chipmunks, and squirrels.

Flowering trees signal the dawn of spring, while high heat ushers in blooms of summer, giving way to autumn’s celebrated blaze: trees of fire. And finally? Bare, spindly branches capped with snow, to round out the calendar year.

Whether the sunshine dances over the shimmering pond, or snow clouds yield bleaker skies, it does not matter– I think and pray and always return home refreshed and eager to write.

It works. God’s gift of nature inspires me, without fail. It gifts me the words, sentences, and paragraphs.

I was terribly saddened when, over the past six weeks, an injury necessitated that I stop walking for a time. There was little that I could do, other than ride a stationary bike.

It was abysmal.

How I missed those splendid daily walks, so different from exercising in a stuffy, indoor gym. Air that feels stale, never fully circulating, as people mill about from machine to machine with smudged phones and neon water bottles, sweat soaking their white neck towels, while the news blares from the small corner television, loud and discouraging.

Rather than growing inspired, I inevitably returned home dull of mind, realizing that this was my new normal for at least a month.


Through this inconvenience, I have been surprised to discover that it is good to be disrupted. For life, as we know it, to be jolted, even in diminutive ways. God wastes absolutely nothing but designs hardships for our good.

Something as small as being unable to exercise outdoors has awakened me to pleasures that I had taken for granted. Things such as healthy muscles, the wind in my face, the ability to walk without thinking twice.


One morning, after returning from stale air, I grabbed the oversized coffee can from the garage, chock full of birdseed, and filled our bird feeder with a special winter cherry mix. I sat down on the front steps, Bible opened, and as I studied the tiny-boned creatures, so bright of feather, greedily flitting from feeder to branch with ease, I began to feel rather sorry for myself, and my present state of immobility.

With a long-winded sigh, so dramatic, and heard only by the birds, I read Romans 12:3.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Sober judgment.

In that split second, I snapped to attention, considering a simple truth that had previously eluded me.

God had assigned me this time of slight injury.

How should I respond? In trust and faith? Loving God most, serving him in all things? Or selfishly, with a moaning and whining spirit, thinking far too highly about myself?

I confessed on the spot, nipping my sour attitude.

Good riddance.


We live in a world where nearly everyone will instruct you to: Cut yourself some slack! Life is hard, and it is okay to sulk and cater to those crummy attitudes of the heart. You are only human, and deserve to mope a bit, feeling all of the feelings, serving and thinking only of yourself. Who wouldn’t?

Here is the problem with that narrative: it is nowhere to be found in Scripture. (Philippians 2:14-16)

Ephesians 4:21-24:  when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Here’s my encouragement today:

Just do it.

Obey God.

No need to overthink biblical fidelity, drawing up spreadsheets of pros and cons.

Simply be speedy to obey, no matter how you or anyone else feels. The world will suggest easier outs, but, as Christians, those options fall in line with our former life and deceitful desires.

Put off the old, corrupted self, and become more like God, practicing righteousness and walking in holiness.

It is delightfully freeing, and despite all hardships, your soul will happily soar in swift obedience to God.

I know it seems elementary, but obedience to God through Scripture is always right. (And if you are like me, the task of returning to the elementary principals of Scripture serves up a hearty reminder, plus a much-needed swift kick in the pants.)

Sadly, I am prone to forgetting that those ugly moods of the heart: complaining, sulking, bitterness, and envy, are horribly sinful. If left to flourish, they will inevitably mutate into more tangled sin. And sin always serves Satan, not God. If I consider my ugly attitudes with this renewed frame of mind, I will be much quicker to mortify them.

Yes, even those faintly visible whiny moments, if left to simmer in my spirit, will grow into greedy, lengthy weeds, stretching tall and choking me, thus grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit.

How much wiser to deal directly in biblical truth, refusing to give myself a pass, but extracting weedy sins at the root, thereby putting off the old self and renewing my mind with a joyful, thankful spirit.


I am back to taking morning walks, and my heart is quite thankful to bypass the stuffy gym.

The air is cold and fresh, and this morning I inhaled it deeply, smiling as I enjoyed the bright morning sunlight dancing, twinkling over the pond. A brilliant bluebird tilted its head at me from a slender branch. A branch that is only beginning to bud, a sure promise that spring is near.

It will take time to regain my former walking speed, but I am choosing to trust God no matter what, taking one step at a time.

Lips of Poison

The tongue that is quick to whisper gossip and lies, slandering in the dark, is in cahoots with the accuser of the brethren.

Satan, the hater of truth.

He licks his chops at all deceit and has spent his entire pathetic existence creating discord.

This I know.


Have you experienced gossip and slander among Christians? In your church?

I have received heartbreaking correspondence from many trying to pick up the pieces in the wake of such stealthy destruction.

And here is the truth: the pieces can never be retrieved.

Slander and gossip destroy beyond repair.

To partake is to cooperate with the father of lies.


Fault lines before the earthquake.

I have observed them, and so have you. Thin as cobwebs, snaking the ground. You step over and around the weakening pavement days, weeks, months before the quake. There is a vibe, and it is not holy.

A brush against cold hearts, frigid and fraudulent smiles, conversations hushed behind cupped hands when passing through narrow hallways. The scent of insatiable hunger for power and a thirst for control permeates everything–clashing against the clear teachings of Scripture: deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus.

Such churlishness often encroaches even the sanctuary–as a seemingly insurmountable wall of rebellion is built brick by brick as Scripture is unpacked.

Such stony offensiveness, cheeks flaming while eyes remain cold and unresponsive towards words such as sin, repentance, and holiness.

The deception is felt, a darkness seeking a space to invade.

And suddenly the poison-tipped arrows began to fly. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

Slanderous lies and gossip swirl. Once airborne, they zing and slice.

They murder.


I can both define and explain it, seeing its corrupt conception, seeds born from parents named wickedness and jealousy, the product of tangled and bitter roots. Slander and gossip are firm handshakes, a sealing of the deal with the devil, an upfront contract to execute his wicked, crushing pleasures.

But to be the object of gossip and slander? Such a bitter poison that disrupts sleep, tarnishes one’s good name, and hinders the Gospel. I wish it upon no one.

How it stings. The tongue’s poison spewed within the church is deadly, infiltrating the drinking water meant to nourish the congregation. (James 3:8)

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. Psalm 101:5


Last summer, I was visiting my dear friend, also a pastor’s wife.

We chatted for a bit as we do, about our families and those specific things the Lord is teaching us in the mundane. We laughed and enjoyed the sweet tartness of icy lemonade, while seated comfortably on their quaint back porch. The fat bumble bees wafted heavy about the flower garden, seeking sweet nourishment. A pair of hummingbirds hovered over the daylilies and impatiens, sipping nectar. I enjoyed the soft, gentle breeze breaking through the warmth of an otherwise humid afternoon.

My friend turned toward me and shared a painful story I had not known.

Her eyes then filled. It only took a few of the disgruntled to destroy our church.

I will share no more, suffice to say that tongues of poison obliterated an innocent family.

Her story was familiar–I have heard this tale on repeat from far too many pastor’s wives. This time it sent a shiver down my spine, because she is my friend. I could not imagine why a congregation would neglect to stand up to these few slanderers, for the sake of their pastor, his family, and the Gospel.

Fear of man is a deadly sin, isn’t it? (Proverbs 29:25) And its fiery consequences scald others, always. Such idolatry suppresses truth. And to suppress truth is to grieve and quench the Holy Spirit.

Pretenders (people who drape themselves in Christian attire each Sunday morning, arriving at church, pursuing power void of godliness, humility, repentance, or holiness) are infiltrating God’s houses of worship right now, sowing discord through gossip and slander and lies. Don’t be fooled, they are masquerading as Christians, (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) tearing apart God’s truthtellers and obliterating church unity.

Any one of us may be ensnared by the tasty trifles of gossip or slander, if we do not remain on our guard, continually feeding ourselves biblical truth.

Satan prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Those busy whispering words of poison have been devoured.

Stay Bible-saturated, soberminded, while pursuing holiness and maturity in Christ. To wave these disciplines aside will weaken you and the entire church body. You will soon fall prey to stealthy wolves, who will snatch you up, dragging you out of the church and into the fray.

As Christians heed God’s voice through the reading and study of their Bibles, inhaling and obeying truth, the flame of Holy Spirit rushes and burns brightly, producing wisdom, discernment, and a not-on-my-watch backbone. These are the markings of a true Christ-follower. (2 Corinthians 3:12)

When God fills his children with the Holy Spirit, boldness and courage rule the day. The truly regenerate heart will not tolerate timidity and man-pleasing ways. A believer cannot play fast and loose with sin, crushing others with poisoned speech, especially in God’s house.

We need to be bold men and women in order to deal with such matters, and swiftly.

More Bible-loving devotion leads to more tender-heartedness which leads to obedience and truth-telling, and the slaying of sin.

Sins such as the poisons of the tongue: gossip and slander.


Lies can and must be forgiven but they cannot be retrieved. Once spilled, they spread and are lapped up, devoured by others.

The damage is catastrophic.

It shatters people into a million pieces.


If gossip has begun to swirl on your watch, squelch it. Spear it to death. This is not the time to soft peddle.

Be like Jesus, who admonished Peter, a man who was boldly denying the truth. Jesus responded with: Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (Matthew 16:23)

Admonish each other in this same vein. If someone appeals to your flesh with whispers of: Did you hear about so-and-so? For the sake of your soul, your family, your friends, and your church: Stop the conversation abruptly. Ask them to go directly to the person they are seeking to misalign. Point them to Matthew 18:15-17. And if you know that the person before you is speaking lies, have the decency to call them out.

If everyone did this, the church would be radically purified.

What if others belittle you for obeying Scripture? What if they dismiss you, or even despise you for refusing the morsels of gossip and slander?

You have just suffered for obeying God. This is good and holy.


Men of the church, I beseech you to heed 1 Corinthians 16:13:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

Stand up for those who are preaching and teaching truth. Stop the gossip, slander, and lies before they grow octopus tentacles, suctioning themselves to reams of people with their poison.

It is remarkable what problems may be swiftly reconciled by the sturdy backbone of men with strong, God-fearing responses.

Do not gossip.

Do not slander.

And have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who does.

If you have a disagreement, set up a time to speak with the individual, pastor, or elders.

Practice boldness.

Fear God in utter reverence.

Cherish his Word and obey it.

Get behind me Satan.


To all women.

Eve was seduced by the first whispers of the Master Slanderer, Satan the serpent.

Did God actually say? You will not die. God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God. (Genesis 3:1-7)

Women, our sinful curse lies in our desire to rule and to be in the know. To share information just as Eve shared the fruit with her husband, a man who should have stood protectively guarding his wife, while refusing the forbidden fruit. Eve was a wife designed to be a helper to her husband, and she helped him, didn’t she? Right over a cliff.

Eve was easily deceived. (1 Timothy 2:14) We, too, as women, are often slow to walk away from the deception of slanderous lies and gossip.

I remind you of an important truth, another treasure trove of wisdom:

Proverbs 20:19Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore, do not associate with a simple babbler.

It will cost you relationally to obey this truth. But it will cost you a whole lot more to disobey God’s decree. To associate with a slanderer, a gossip, is to partake of the hideous nature of Satan. It is to cooperate with wickedness. I have personally seen many led astray by ignoring this directive.

Burn the bridges, cut the cords, do not associate with a slanderer. Stay connected through prayer only.

This might be the very act that wakes them up to truth, and if so, they will surely repent, and your relationship may be restored.

Even if they do not awaken to truth, forgive lavishly, again and again and again. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

But do not keep company, as bad company corrupts good character. (1 Corinthians 15:33)


It is crucial to also examine our own words.

I grieve those times in my own life when I have spoken poorly, gossiping about another. My own agony of being on the receiving end of gossip and slander has made me walk circumspectly, hungering for care-filled words to inhabit my lips rather than poisonous speech.

I have also realized that to stand quietly on the fringes while one decimates another by way of gossip and slander makes me complicit.

I am striving instead to practice godly speech, boldly and calmly asking: Have you spoken to them directly?


Never about, always to. ~ Amy Carmichael

Your House is on Fire

Not too long ago, I was talking with a group of pastors’ wives. We were all feeling a bit wrung out, tired of the hardships in our churches, tired of watching our husbands suffer the aftershocks of Covid, tired of such strange times in pulpit and pew, where every pattern seemed to have shifted, topsy-turvy and unprecedented.

The only place to go for rest?


Below is a small excerpt from my 45-minute talk, entitled: Through Hot Fires & Deep Waters. I hope my words will serve to encourage you, my kind readers.


This morning I want you to walk away soul satisfied by the understanding that the Lord your God sees you, walks with you, and as you are singed and nearly drowning in trials, yet moving forward in faith, please remember this: he is shaping you, molding you, fashioning you into the image of his most precious Son, Jesus.

I watched a magnificent video recently, of a potter at her wheel. She had a bucket of broken pieces of clay–a mess really. She ground the pieces, and dipped them in water, mixing the mess into a formed heap. And then, once the clay was ready for use, and just the right consistency, she spun her wheel and began to shape the clay into her artistic design. It took time and vision and a whole lot of patience, and the clay was formed by her hands. The clay did not gripe and fuss, but obeyed the master potter, malleable, relaxed in her grip. The pieces she formed were lovely–beauty from the ruins.

And when the initial lump was designed and completed, fashioned to her liking, she placed it in the hottest of fires. The kiln. The blazing heat strengthened the piece, making it durable and fit for use. That fire, which seems too cruel, and too hot, actually perfected the bowl, and the vase, and the pitcher. After the fire, the pieces were dipped in glaze.

And then?

Back into the fire they went. For a carefully measured time. In fact, differently shaped pieces required different cooking times.

The pottery was perfected in the fire. It was ready to serve others.

The potter? She knew precisely what she was doing.

Ladies, we too are being molded, dipped in water, formed, and placed in the hottest fires to serve Christ Jesus, by laying down our lives for others, and serving sacrificially, as Jesus did.

My advice and encouragement for each of you, as you face all of those trials unique to a pastor’s family, might be different from what you are accustomed to. Many books and articles are centered situationally–beginning with the outward, the extraneous.

Articles such as:

Can I have friends at church?

Do I need to be present at every event?

How do we survive when people leave our church?

How do I handle people using me to get to my husband?

How do I swim authentically in this fishbowl?

While there is certainly a time and a place and biblical answers to these questions, I would like to skip the microscope in favor of the broader, the deeper, the eternal view.

The way I see it, tending only to those specific questions is like focusing on snuffing out a burning candle, while your entire house is on fire. Burning down.

Let’s step back and inhale the grand view. The huge fire of life, lived in fidelity to God, wherever he places us, rather than the tiny, situational candle.

If we view our situations with a long, eternal perspective, we will quickly ascertain that the words of Charles Spurgeon are indeed true:

Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, Divine Love would have put you there.

God is not only present during our hot fires and deep waters.

But more importantly?

He has plunged us deeply into them for his glory and for our good. He is completely Sovereign. God is the Omniscient Potter and we are the lowly clay.

The answer to remaining upright and strong and joyful during our trials is to be spiritually well. There are disciplines of our faith, practices of obedience that will fortify our souls, come what may. No one can do these things for you. These choices are between you and God.

(I then spoke in detail about specific spiritual disciplines that God has created to sustain his children.)

Pastor’s wife. Your main work is not within those church walls. You are not called to pastor–that is your husband’s job. There is no biblical office called pastor’s wife. Biblically, your chief work is to first be well with God, and then to love and honor and serve your husband.

Bend your knees and pray for him. Love him. Keep your hearth and home a calm, ordered, and peaceful place which is pleasing to God. All of this is done from a heart bent on love for Christ. You have a unique calling–no one else is married to your pastor, and may I suggest a word of caution? Do not become so overly involved in the church happenings that you no longer have time for your family.

God has called you to this exact place of hot fires and deep waters and will give you his strength. He who promised is faithful.

I close with a quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

If you could see with your eyes the nail-pierced hand of Jesus stretched forth toward you with a cup of suffering, would you drink it or would you refuse it? Think about what God may be offering you now. Do you have any hunger for God, any longing to understand his Cross?


This is for the one who is feeling wobbly today.

Perhaps you have been flattened: cast aside by another, gossiped about, slandered while doing good.

Maybe your heart is tired and sore, and life feels like an uphill slog, all cold, dreary rain minus golden sunbeams.

Perchance you are the one who has caused much pain, and your cruelty or selfishness seem irreparable.


Our Heavenly Father, who spoke the universe into existence, making the sun to ascend in the east and dip low against the western skyline, creating the buttery moon to glow in the pitch of night, and setting the stars to twinkle – thereby gifting humanity a gentler light to sleep – summons every person ever born to revel in the beauty of his creation.

God has graciously gifted us with five senses, inviting us to inhale the scent of a wood-burning stove or freshly cut grass, to hear the crackle of snapping twigs and the chirp of the crickets, to observe the birds flit from branch to branch or watch the breathtaking sunset, to taste fresh berries of summer or the icy cold snowflakes falling upon our lips. We feel the comforting warmth of the fireplace and the goodness of soft beach sand beneath our feet.

Dear, simple pleasures.

Such remarkable gifts of common grace are meant for princes and paupers and peasants alike. A gift for all mankind.

Aren’t you grateful?

I remember during my illness with Covid, feeling such sorrow over my loss of taste and smell. Especially smell. I missed the scent of the diffuser, the delicious odor of a burnt vanilla candle, and my daily spritz of perfume. Life felt less vibrant; dull. It made me realize how thankless I had been my entire life.

Now, with my senses long restored, I no longer take such things for granted. God is kind to grant us such daily pleasures, isn’t he?

Yet there is a far greater, extravagant invitation from God to mankind, for those souls whom he chooses to draw to himself. (John 6:44)

The God of all creation desires a relationship with his little bleating sheep, those who know his voice. (John 10:27) Isn’t is shocking? God loved us so much that he willed his Son to suffer humiliation, torture, and an agonizing crucifixion in order that we might be presented faultless before him, dwelling with him forever in heaven.

God whispers to his own until we turn to him and answer Yes! running in joy to our Master.

The Great Love story means that as devoted followers of Jesus Christ, we are now his beloved, called and kept. (Jude 1:1)


I love this word.

Kept is language exploding with strength.

We are spoken for.



Never to be snatched from his hand. (John 10:28)


Weary, discouraged one? Christ is our only hope and confidence in times of want and in times of plenty.

Return in repentance when you disobey him. Rest in him when you are wronged. Thank him when the sun is shining and life is breezy.

Pray when you are sad and when you are frustrated and when you are happy.

For the believer in Christ, better days are coming, a perfect future without end.

God keeps both his promises and his children, forever.


All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

– John 6:37

The Great Deception

I have been told that my first sentence was this: I do it.

My baby voice is on an old tape, collecting dust somewhere, a cassette I recall hearing many years ago. At the time of the recording I was not yet one-and-a-half. As my parents were trying to help me with something, I responded with: I do it.

Even now I prefer little help. 

I make our bed just so each morning, pulling and smoothing the sheets straight, hospital corners neat and pillows tidy. I spritz our kitchen’s granite countertops on the daily, keeping them shiny and clutter-free. I hold to a simple method for paying our bills, organizing the pantry, preparing meals, and handling all weekly laundry and cleaning and grocery shopping.

Come to think of it, the only chores I actually prefer assistance with are clearing dishes and collecting the trash, hauling it to the curb come Thursday evening.


I have a good friend who keeps a key to our home, driving over to tend to our pets when we take day trips. It nearly requires an act of Congress for me to work up the gumption to ask for her help. I used to leave an envelope of cash on the counter, by way of thanks, which she repeatedly ignored, time and again.

Finally, she asked me to stop trying to pay her.

Kristin, I like helping you, she said simply.

Oh, how I wish she would accept the money. At least then it would feel less like receiving help and more like me paying for her kind services. This probably sounds ridiculous and I know it, because I, too, enjoy helping others.

I just prefer not to need help.

Such a smooth, stealthy voice.

Its name?



As I have been working away, little by little each week, stitching words together for my next book, I occasionally grow discouraged. As I am writing, the phone rings yet again, or I receive a slew of texts from someone needing counsel, or the mailman knocks on our front door. 

That sentence that was forming–a fragrant flower ready to burst open, that singular trail of thought that was finally gelling after days of spinning frenetically–has suddenly vanished. 

In the wind. Gone.

While there are no visible meltdowns happening around these parts, my inner toddler phrase rears up—I do it

So I go back to work, determined to make that paragraph appear, grow wings, and soar.

I do it.

And isn’t it just lovely that my working paragraph is all about patience, that lush and holy fruit of the Spirit?

Patience…a gracious yielding to God’s timetable, trusting him with all interruptions. 

I sigh, suddenly feeling bruised and sore. Come on, Kristin. You know this material.

But knowing is different than abiding in obedience to the Lord, isn’t it?

I ponder this now, as my number 2 Ticonderoga wavers above my favorite pad of paper. Dropping my pencil I sigh, gazing across my office at my Bible. It is waiting for me on a slender side table.

I fell deep within its pages only this morning, some six hours ago. Have I learned absolutely nothing?

No more of: I do it, but rather: God, You do it.

The plain truth is that I can do nothing worthwhile on my own. (John 15:4-5) Yes, grit and determination and a strong work ethic are my friends, gifts from God.

But stubbornness? Ownership of what I imagine I can do by myself? Without any help, thank you very much?

That mindset is nothing but utter foolishness, the dark and wicked heartbeat of pride.

I am sorry, Lord. Please forgive me.

Now back to the cold, refreshing well I go. The pages of truth.

The Bible.


Obadiah 1:3- The pride of your heart has deceived you.

Proverbs 11:2 – When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Words That Lead

From time to time I receive comments about the writing life. A day-dreamy look appears on questioning faces, eyes all soft with: I think someday I will write a book about my life.

I nod, waiting for the inevitable.

And then it comes.

How do you ever find the time?

It used to make me feel funny, intuiting this belief that folks have regarding writers, which goes something like this: It must be nice to have so much free time to write articles, posts, and books, rather than working like the rest of humanity.

Of course these words are never directly spoken, but the vibe circles the room, a mist falling upon my shoulders. Rather than taking offense, I have decided that it might be helpful to clear the air of several common misunderstandings.

Myth number one: Writers write in their free time.

Serious writers schedule time to write and do it. People are surprised to know that I treat my craft like a job (which it is), while holding to a strict schedule.

Myth number two: Writing is not work, but a hobby.

I call writing a hard joy. Some days are tedious. Other days are enjoyable and the words flow. But ultimately, writing is work, and writers must do the work. It is not glamorous or easy or even a hobby. In fact, it is quite challenging.

Think of it like this: would you ever ask a veterinarian if he performed surgeries on ailing animals as a hobby? Does he operate on a whim, only when the spirit moves him? No. It is the same with writing. A writer must sit and complete the task.

Most writers enjoy hobbies that are more physical in nature–walking or jogging or biking or knitting or painting or photography. It is good for the writer’s mind to rest by laboring physically.

Myth number three: Words magically appear on the page.

Words never magically appear.

Readers see the finished labors absent of the blood, sweat, prayer, and tears that lead to that final piece. In all of my writings, I recall only a few times when the words have flown from my brain to the page with ease. Most often, I write and rewrite and write and rewrite again and again and again.

Myth number five: Every season is conducive to full-time writing.

I have scratched out words for as long as I could spell. However, I did not begin writing consistently until 2020, once our children were nearly grown. My previous adult years were spent homeschooling, and if I could do it over again, I would choose the same path.

No earthly anything is more precious to me than my family, and raising and teaching our children was my full-time occupation. My favorite work of all time. God has blessed each one of us with different seasons, and now that my husband and I have an empty nest, I am grateful to be able to dedicate the lion’s share of my working hours to writing.

Myth number six: Everyone is a writer.

I would ask you this: Is everyone a scientist? A painter? A professional football player? A musician?

Of course not.

I am not sure why people often assume that everyone has a book glowing inside, waiting to be born. I would argue that everyone has a story to be shared, but not necessarily through the medium of writing. Do not feel badly if you are not inclined to write. You do not have to be.

On the flipside, if you enjoy words, and crafting sentences, perhaps you should set aside a few hours each week and give it a whirl. Do this consistently for a month and see where it takes you. Perhaps you are a writer.


May I add another important truth? Writing is a responsibility. A weighty one. Every word published will lead your reader somewhere.

Will that somewhere be good, true, and lovely? Or will that somewhere lead to a tangle of confusion?

Personally, I love memoir and I wish that more sober-minded Christians would pen it.

I enjoy reading about life’s small moments: one’s thoughts as they stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes– fresh lemon soap growing sudsy on tired hands while scrubbing the egg-coated pans to a fare-thee-well, all of the while considering the wonderous beauty of nature, observing chunky chickadees flitting upon the bird feeder outside their narrow kitchen window.

Such a pretty sighting thus prompts them to contemplate the Master Artist. Those chickadees, as well as that humbling act of scrubbing away the remnants of breakfast stuck to pans mean something. God is with us at the kitchen sink of life, inviting us to consider and worship and enjoy him.

Writers who are Christ-followers are highly favored with the precious opportunity to write about our Heavenly Father, who is with us in our daily mundane. I pray that, as a writer, I may be a heated iron, used by God to smooth the wrinkled shirt, inviting order and biblical truth to the tired, the worn, the frayed. A heat that sizzles, smooths, and prayerfully diminishes the wrinkles. I have discovered that God’s Word, when known and loved and cherished and obeyed, rightly orders our lives.

The question presents itself: are we willing, as writers, to yield our time to the beauty of pairing words for the glory of God? Even if those words are read only by Him?

All writing, not only memoir, takes people on a journey leading to a destination. This is important to understand, which is why writing itself is work, to be taken seriously. Words, strung together, grow and swell and sway people, leading them to run deeper into a pit of noisy confusion and self-help, or to a golden field of truth. This place of truth invites readers to look up and away from themselves, considering the wonders of God.

The best advice I have to offer writers is to stay tethered to the Lord through Scripture. Love him most, pray continually, and seek to obey his Word.




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To the Nations

As promised last week, and without further ado, here is my recent chat with our son Jacob, who is making preparations to share the Gospel with the people of South Africa as a full-time missionary. You will be blessed to hear my husband answer some questions as well.

It is my prayer that your faith will be strengthened as you hear Jacob’s testimony and passion to both live and share the Good News.

While I encourage you to listen to the entire discussion, here are some highlights:

1:39 – How sports are playing a part in Jacob’s missions work

5:37 – Jon shares how the Lord has been preparing Jacob to Go

13:54 – How Jacob was called to missions

18:29 – Suffering in ministry

21:16 – A father’s heart as his son prepares to leave

27:00 – Deep roots bear godly fruit. How Jacob nourishes his faith.

I invite you to click here to read about Jacob’s missionary work, and prayerfully consider partnering with him.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

A Guest

Next Thursday, I will be hosting a special guest here at The Palest Ink. I encourage you to return and hear the voice of our son, Jacob. My husband and I will be chatting with him as he shares the enormous changes God is orchestrating in his life. It is a recording that you will not want to miss.

I thought it might be helpful to offer some background and context leading up to next week’s interview.

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a post about Jacob. I invite you to read it now, an introduction to the character of this man whom you will have the joy of meeting next week.

This is Jacob.

Humility Precedes Him

Per doctor’s instructions, I stepped into the scalding shower, hand pressed for support on the tiled wall, inhaling a deep gulp of steam. Suddenly, I gasped, coughing and choking while trying only to breathe, desperate for air.


One week prior, I had flown home from an extensive, precautionary surgery. Dropping my shoulder bag, I embraced my family, one-by-one, joyful for a return to the warp and woof of precious mundane. Our sons had spent the entire day installing drywall for a friend, and now lingered in our kitchen, sipping iced coffee, hair damp from showers, smelling of cologne and laundry detergent. Jacob’s face was flushed.

Are you feeling okay? I asked, and he nodded.

I pressed the back of my hand to his forehead. It was on fire.

104 degrees, as it turned out.

This quarterback son of ours was in the thick of his senior year football season. News stories fired rapidly: virulent flu epidemics were sweeping our county, wiping out entire teams. A few local high schools had boarded up, waiting for this sickness to spindle.

I spent the next few days pressing cool compresses on Jacob’s head, persuading him to sip broth and Gatorade, while urging down a few saltines and applesauce to bed his stomach for ongoing ibuprofin. I stripped his sheets twice per day, spinning the dial hot on the washing machine, tipping more detergent in as I waged all-out war on this invisible contagion. His bedding was drenched from profuse sweating as the fever raged and abated, raged and abated: endless waves in a sea of ache.

There’s nothing else to be done, the pediatrician sighed, when I called, frantic at his weight loss, excessive fatigue, and pallor. If his fever spikes over 104, bring him straight to the ER.

I slept little, fear rising tall.

But then one morning Jacob asked for toast. He was shaky and pale, but hungry and feverless. My relief was sweet, and short lived. By morning, everyone else was bedridden, except for me.

That next week was a blur: measuring medicines and keeping charts, scouring bathrooms, serving oyster crackers and tiny ramekins of applesauce, taking cat naps, hauling laundry: repeat. Five days later, when everyone was asking for soup and more toast, please, I was grateful to have bypassed this terrible flu.

Or so I thought.

The aches began suddenly, and I was chilled. I sped to our local walk-in: a precautionary measure because of my recent surgery.

I was labeled Flu-B, and remember telling the doctor I did not feel too terrible, except for an odd feeling in my chest: a shortness of breath. She pulled a cobalt breathing apparatus out of her metal drawer, measuring my oxygen levels while I inhaled then exhaled, informing me all was well. Measurements were perfect. I had a slight cough, all part of this horrific flu.

I want you to go home, and take a long steaming shower. Breathe deeply, and it will help. She signed a prescription for an inhaler, just in case.

It’s precautionary, she smiled. I don’t believe you will need it. But you will feel very poorly, come morning. This I most definitely knew, after watching my family flounder in near delirium for a week.

But no one else had labored breathing, I told her. This seems different.

Hot shower, she pointed at me, all teacher-like. And rest. You will be fine.


I have shared words about this son of ours. Quarterback is code for leader, commander, captain, guide. At some point this description is insufficient for Jacob. He is all of those things and more, wrapped in a blanket of gentleness and humility.


I could not breath as the water beat hot on my back. I inhaled, and a seal-like barking cough erupted from my chest as I gasped. My daughter, only eleven at the time, heard it and banged on the bathroom door.

Mom, are you okay?

The cough abated, allowing me a momentary breath.

I need a doctor, I wheezed.

In that moment, I would have told you I was dying. My thoughts were sharp, and as I pulled one leg and then the other into my sweatpants, I knew only that I must get dressed before anyone found me. I pulled a t-shirt over my head, but did not untangle my wet hair.

Then, Jacob knocking.

Mom? I am taking you back to the clinic. Can I come in? He had just returned from football practice, and it was a Wednesday. My husband was teaching our Wednesday night church service, and had already left.

I tried to answer, and the gasping began. I remember hearing Lauren sobbing, and Jacob assuring her that all would be well, and to please get in the car. He opened the bathroom door, and seeing the terror in my eyes, remained calm. You might have thought we were going for an amble in the park. It was the same face he held when orchestrating his team down the field and scoring. The effect was soothing; I felt courage flicker.

It’s okay, Mom. We’re getting help. He led me to the back door.

My hat, I wheezed. He found it, handing me my New England Patriots ball cap, to cover my damp hair.


As Jacob later spread his wings in college, he was called Tom Brady by students and professors. At that time, Brady was rocking and rolling as the New England Patriots quarterback. Their faces are remarkably alike, so much so in fact, that our son was part of a university article regarding doppelgangers, the name for true look-alikes.

The Patriots are our team, (well, for four out of the six of our family members) and by that I mean they are our team. We take these things seriously in our household, and Jacob had spent his entire boyhood keeping a scrapbook of all things Tom Brady and New England Patriots. To top it off, he threw the ball just like Brady, which made this whole look-alike thing fun.

He downplayed it all, laughing and waving it off, turning the tide of all conversation towards the person before him. So how about you? Do you have a favorite team? Genuine humility is a super magnet; especially for the unrecognized, the marginalized, the outcasts. It is warm, inviting, and kind. The arrogant remain mystified by its pull.


Jacob was breaking records his junior and senior year in high school. He never spoke of it, just played and executed, played and encouraged. While Tom Brady was slinging insults at his receivers who dropped passes, Jacob was signaling plays with calm authority, patting backs of those who dropped his spirals. I had a solid view, perched high in those Friday night bleachers, adoring those arched passes of beauty, artistic in their seamless execution. The result of years of practice and whole-hearted love for the game. Jacob’s goodness and kindness towards everyone was prodigious in itself; pulling the excellence out of each athlete, who trusted their quarterback. They simply knew that he desired victory with integrity.


By the time Jacob peeled into the clinic, I assumed I wasn’t dying, although each time I coughed, it felt as though I would never again draw breath. With each cough, I would gasp, desperately sucking in air, willing my lungs to open.

The doctor rushed me into the back room, recognizing me from earlier in the day. Days later, Jacob told me that he was frightened when I struggled to breathe in that office, because of the terror on the doctor’s face; her charts and notes and equipment falling useless.

She fumbled again for the blue breathing apparatus, and asked me to inhale, reporting that my oxygen levels were good.

But she can’t breathe, Jacob said evenly. She needs to go to the hospital right now.

I looked at the fear in my daughter’s eyes, and asked Jacob to care for his sister. Please take her home, and tell your dad, I gasped.

We’ll be fine, Mom. And so will you.

He hugged me and they left.


Over time, I have watched him serve the biggest slice of his favorite pie to another. I have seen him empty the dishwasher when no one is paying attention; when it would have been easier to pluck one clean glass and shut the rest inside for another to empty. I have noticed him caring for the neglected, tender in his words, hand upon slumped shoulder, quiet; inconspicuous. I have watched him deny himself the chance to be proven right by not correcting. I have known him to stop in the middle of the road and lift a turtle to safety, and I have seen him sing as he works, joyful in hardships. I have observed him step away from insults, diffusing a crisis by calm retreat rather than retort. I have watched him rise up to defend us, his family. His protective instincts know no bounds, and his friendships eclipse only the arrogant. I have never once had to repeat myself to him: he listens with entirety, remembering stories and preferences and details; holding them with surety and precision. Jacob’s Bible is continuously open on the counter, his bed, and his desk; worn-out, marked, cherished.

His soul is an entire table, really. A banquet feast of fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.


The doctors in the ER told me that the flu had uniquely manifested itself in my lungs, leading to difficult breathing. They kept me overnight, and provided an inhaler. I limped home the next day, where the flu took a wicked turn, wiping me out for a week as it had my family. But I could breathe.


When Caleb (who had bypassed the whole Flu-B saga, away at college at the time) became engaged, he asked Jacob to be his best man.

During Caleb and Natalia’s reception, following their vows, we danced and laughed and twirled, long dresses and suits swishing, uncomfortable shoes kicked off, fire pit hot as guests warmed their hands in the chill. Then the music paused. It was speech time. Jacob stepped forward, under the tent, sparkly lights glowing over the planks of the dance floor. Tears sprang up as I watched him stand before his older brother, one of his best friends. I held on to those memories now whipping through my mind: their childhood years spent sharing a bedroom, building Legos and forts, riding bikes and playing football together.

This best man pulled his speech from his suit pocket, thanking everyone for attending his brother’s wedding. He looked directly at Caleb and told him he loved him. He then shared a childhood memory which illuminated the kindness of Caleb. Everyone leaned in, loving the story, which concluded with: And this is why, you, Caleb, are really the best man.

Caleb’s eyes filled; we were all undone. Jacob shared several more vignettes, repeatedly ending with: And this is why, you, Caleb, are really the best man.

It was a speech for the ages.


There is a scene in The Wizard of Oz, a moment where everything comes crashing down, truth is revealed.

Toto, the tiny dog, yanks back the curtain of secret powers. The jig is up: this Wizard is a mere mortal. His entire existence was a sham, and he had deceived his entire kingdom, pretending to be something he was not.

I have seen the curtain pulled back in Jacob’s life, revealing his secret. There, within, lies a bridge called Abiding. A bridge leading directly to the Lord, a bridge that Jacob chooses to travel each day. There is a hidden gem that he practices rather than preaches. It goes something like this: Love God most and glive your life.


Not too long ago, Jon and I sat in the living room, catching up with Jacob, now a man who writes articles by day and songs by night, singing his stories handsomely. He had been given a work assignment to cover a news story about a well-known Christian artist who was encouraging music majors at a local university.

What’s he like? Jon asked.

Jacob paused, coffee mug in hand.

The only way I can think to describe him, is to say that humility goes before him.

How so? asked my husband.

Well, he walked into this huge gathering, and he noticed others, stopping to speak to everyone. Sometimes these famous people have a list of needs or demands. He was the opposite of that, relaxed and peaceful, and was interested in hearing the music and stories of the students. I have never seen anything like it. Very cool. He smiled, just thinking of it.

Never seen anything like it? I thought. But our son had just perfectly described himself.

And then, a flash of knowing: the truly humble never regard their own humility. Of course

Humility precedes him.