Better than rawhides…

I love how God uses all of creation to teach me stuff. Today, He taught me through my pups. Let me introduce you…

This is Sir Maximus

This is Simba Roo (you must roll the r for her to answer)

Max is our brand new pup. He’s full of energy and mischief. He delights in our love, leaps into our arms and smothers us with kisses. He lays on his back for us to rub his belly and whines with abandon when we walk out the door.

In his eyes, we are the greatest thing since chicken flavored rawhides.

Simba Roo loves us too, but it’s with a quiet reserve. Only occasionally does she wag her whole body when we walk in the door. She approaches us tentatively when she asks for our touch… always a little nervous that this whole love thing could go south.

It makes sense. We got Simba Roo at 12-weeks-old from the Humane Society, and they told us that she’d been abused. Someone had kicked her and her hip was dislocated as a result. She was just healing up when we took her home all cuddled up in our arms.

Baby Simba Roo

For years we had to be careful with our Simba Roo. Anytime we touched that back hip, she’d leap away from us and tremble, her big brown eyes filled with fear.

Will you turn on me too?

We get it. She’s scared. And because we love her, we meet her where she is… we don’t scold her for her fear, we reassure her and talk embarrassing baby talk and love on her by the bucketful.

So here’s my thought. If we, as frail and human and goofy pet owners, understand how old wounds can surface and scare our puppy, how much more does God make provision when we are skittish in our responses to him? When we’ve been kicked a time or two by life and doubt his love or tremble at his touch?

I make provision for my pups. God makes provision for me… He makes provision for each one of us who carry wounds that make us fearful.

That reality brings tears to my eyes.

What a gracious God.

Camouflage Mama and True Beauty (flasback Friday)

October 15, 2006

Camouflage Mama

It happens every afternoon around 4:37 p.m. I don my camouflage pants and head out the door. Sam’s bus arrives at the bottom of the hill at 4:39. She’s in high school now. Cool. Happening. She wears lip-gloss and just a touch of foundation to take off the shine.

She even has an I-pod she received on her birthday after three years of
complaining about the bulkiness of her old-fashioned CD player. “I mean
really, Mom. All the kids make fun of me. It’s so bulky and HUGE!”

Yeah. OK. I couldn’t even LIFT the record player I listened to in the 6th

So I start walking – slowly. It’s all in the timing. If I get too close and
the kids on the bus see me, all will be lost. I hear the familiar sound.
There it is. I spot the yellow through the leaves, and see a window on the
bus. A set of teenage eyes meets mine. They widen. I’ve been spotted! Drat!
I quickly duck and pretend to pet a caterpillar.

I asked Sam once, “So what if your friends see me? They won’t know I’m
coming to meet you, they’ll just think I’m some lady out walking her dogs.”

“Every day Mom? At the same time? And a woman who looks EXACTLY like me?
Mom.” Slight eye roll. “They’ll know it’s you.”

Right. And that’s . . . horribly, mortifyingly not good, right?


The bus starts moving away. I see a bobbing brunette head coming up my way. I
wave. She waves. We grin. On this day she loops her arm in mine as she draws
close. She doesn’t even realize she’s doing it. She right away starts in on her day.

I smile a little grin of victory. Undercover. Top secret. Camouflage love.

Mission accomplished.

October 16, 2006


She was tiny, frail, beautiful. I met Swan at a woman’s conference. Wrinkles lined her lovely face. She dressed stylish with a touch of sassy. Swan spoke in a quiet voice, and her hands trembled slightly as they rested on her lap. She was the picture of gentle beauty.

Then Swan prayed.

With a voice full of passion and strength, she prayed over the conference.
With power she prayed for each woman present. She seemed to grow in stature
with each word spoken to our God.

I have a picture of what Swan will look like in heaven. I’m sure it’s a pale
vision of what will truly be, but even with my limited imagination, my
picture takes my breath away. She is adorned in vibrant colors. She is
brilliant and strong with energy spilling from every pore. Her Lord takes her
dancing and without a single ache or pain, she graces the heavens with her
lovely form. Her eyes are full of light and her smile is warm and
captivating. She is all that she is now – only with a touch of heaven thrown

I want to be like Swan. As my body weakens, I pray my spirit strengthens. As
my heart grows weaker, I pray my love grows stronger. With each passing day,
may I be more like Jesus, until my final breath takes me home to him.


I remember when it happened.

I was working at Focus when I read the news article about the young man who went hiking in the Utah canyons—he was an adventurous guy who went off to play and explore. As he climbed over one rock, it slipped beneath the weight of him. Both he and the rock tumbled and when the dust settled, he couldn’t move. His hand was wedged between the heavy rock and the canyon wall. After six days, his only option was to cut off his arm to escape to freedom. I remember reading his story with a mingled sense of horror and awe.

A few weeks ago, we watched a documentary of his painful journey.

On Friday night, we watched the movie.

I went to sleep that night with Aron’s story on my brain. And I woke up rather philosophical. That happens sometimes. Some days I wake up hungry with a need to go potty. Other times I wake up with profound thoughts on the brain.

You never can tell with me.

So I woke up thinking about the rocks in my own journey. As a young woman I was a lot like Aron. I went out to play and explore in life. I journeyed into canyons and clambered over rocks that seemed so cool. And then I tumbled. The very rock I played on became my trap.

I was thinking on that as I got up. I grabbed my cup of coffee and sat in the living room. I had my quiet time. I read about a man who came to Jesus to ask what He needed to do to inherit eternal life. He gave Jesus the list of the commandments he followed. Jesus looked at him and loved him… (I love that. It says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”) And then Jesus asked him to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor. Jesus knew this guy was held captive by something, and He wanted to set him free.

The man walked away, sad.

He was trapped.

A little later that morning, Brian read through some sports news—as is our Saturday morning custom, he read a few stories out loud to me. One story was about a former football star who became a gambling addict. This broken adult, once a young superstar, had been arrested for scamming people out of millions of dollars. As a young man, he had all the potential in the world, but he’d given in to his addiction. His playful pursuit became a heavy rock that pinned him and drained the life away.

He was trapped.

I’m not always the sharpest needle in the pincushion, but I didn’t want to miss what God might be telling me. What broken piece of my life continues to trap me? The danger with Aron was that the huge rock had cut off all circulation to his hand. His hand was dead and that death was creeping into the rest of his body. Now Aron could have given up and let that happen. Like the rich man in Scripture and the gambling guy in the paper, he could have wrestled for a bit and then given up, “I guess this is just my fate. I can’t break free.”

He could have let death seep into the rest of his body…

But he didn’t. He cut off his own arm to know freedom.

I suppose for the rich man and the gambler, it would have felt like they were cutting off a piece of themselves to break free. I’ve felt that. I’ve had different rocks in my life, habits I didn’t think I could change: Smoking, a longing for romance, food… The list goes on. Habits that felt so much a part of me that it felt like I was cutting off my own arm to let them go.

For Aron, cutting free from that rock was excruciatingly painful.

But it was possible.

And ah, the freedom! The freedom of walking the other way, climbing to safety and leaving that rock back in the dust. And then  after he did the hard work of walking away, the helicopter swept in and rescued Aron. He was tended to and cared for – his wounds healed. Yes, he wears the scars, but he is free.


Talk about joy. Talk about dimpled abandon!

In one scene, when Aron was still trapped, he had a vision of a little boy he knew was the son he would one day have. That vision strengthened him to tear free from all that bound him.

What vision has God planted in your heart? In my heart? That we would go through the painful process of breaking free from the things we’ve come to accept as unchangeable?

Oh friends, I want to take this to heart. Will you join me? Lets not get trapped by anything but the love of God.  Lets not get lost in riches, addictions, poor self image or any other familiar habit that has weighed us down for years, slowly sucking the life from our spiritual bodies.

Will you join me today in asking God what our rock might be? And asking him for strength to tear free and run for his care and mercy?

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23,24).


Look at me!

Look at me!

My longing to be noticed started off harmless enough. After all, I was the first girl born after a batch of boys. Look at my toes! Look at my dress! Look at how cute I am! John, on the left, was less than thrilled with me, but don’t you worry, I did what I could to win him over through my toddler years.

Just a few years later…

At 7 years old, I’d spin a hundred times. “Watch me, Mama, watch me!”

At 9, I’d climb a tree and cling to the branch. “Look at me, Dad! Look at how high I got!”

My parents were kind over the years. My brothers, not as much. “That’s nothing, you’re just a girl. I could climb higher than that.”  (They couldn’t, by the way. I was a superb tree climber.) But never mind that. For the most part, my little girl need to be noticed was met.

So now I’m a little older, a growing and mature believer in our God. I’ve learned that it’s not very polite to stand in front of a group and say “Look at me!” And I get that it would be weird for me to spin a hundred times in my living room and then turn to my husband, “Wasn’t that good? Wasn’t it, love?”

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, those little girl longings still surface.

Like when I recently filled out a marketing form for my publisher. They asked me how many friends I have on Facebook. I wrote, “1000-ish.”


Look at me!

Almost immediately it felt like the Holy Spirit cleared his throat over my shoulder.


Fine. (Erase, erase). “787 – but I’m working on it.”

I saw that little girl again when I was recently interviewed for a national radio broadcast. After the interview, someone took a picture of me with the big kahuna on one side and the lovely doctor co-host on the other. I received a letter (with the picture) a few days later.


Look at me!

I put the picture and letter up on the fridge.

I was tempted to invite over my neighbors, the newspaper boy and any random strangers meandering by our home. “Come on in, grab a bite to eat… no, really. Just open that refrigerator door and help yourself!”  Maybe I’d even tape up the door so they couldn’t actually open it, then they would be forced to ogle the prominent picture on the fridge. “Oh my goodness, Elsa, is that you with….”

“Oh, that silly old picture? I forgot it was there.”

Oh friends, what is wrong with me? Does a picture make me matter? Do 1000 friends make me more special then 787 friends? If that’s the case, what happens when I bump over the 2000 mark? Does God invite me up to heaven for a VIP dinner? Hand me a certificate and call me out in front of the crowd? “Goodness, Elsa, I was waiting for the moment you would cross 2000 friends on Facebook. Now you have truly arrived and can officially be my number one girl.”

Blech. Ugh. Gross.

So I sat in that awhile. Gave myself a good tongue-lashing for my little girl self-obsession.  And then God in his grace, reminded me that He has slowly been growing me up. He brought to mind the stories I talked about on that radio show… the tales of my most broken moments as a young single mom – how I made bad choices and hurt people I cared about. And then how I told the big kahuna and the kind doctor and that radio audience all about my God. I told them how He met me with his grace through loving older women. I talked about the sweet gifts He gave me in the midst of my poverty, pain and foolishness. I talked of how his love wooed me and drew me and set me free.

On that radio show, I got it: Look at HIM! Look at HIM!

And I imagine in that moment, God smiled. And nudged the nearest angel. “Ahhh, now see? Look at my girl..”


Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6).

P.S. I’d love to hear your comments… and just so you know, there’s a part two to this blog. Stay tuned. 🙂