SHELTER. 1 a : something that covers or affords protection <a bombshelter> b : an establishment providing food and shelter (as to the homeless) c : an establishment that houses and feeds stray animals.


“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91

I have fallen asleep the last two nights thinking about shelter.  I was mostly thinking about the extreme cold for this time of year, and about the homeless and how cold they must be.  I’ll bet the onset of cold brings about a new level of fear and uncertainty in their already uncertain lives.

Since I only recently started working at the soup kitchen I don’t have much experience with the homeless.  But in my short time volunteering there I have been changed.  I can now put faces and a few names with the word homeless in my mind.  I have met adorable homeless toddlers and babies that make my heart hurt.  I have seen desperation, hunger and resignation in people’s eyes.  This is all new to me.

The hard underbelly of life will surprise you if you have been protected from seeing it by a privileged lifestyle.  The things I complain about on a regular basis seem silly to me when I think about what many in the world face every morning.  As the guy at the soup kitchen said to me “every morning is not a good one” –  that is the reality of the homeless life.

As we approach Advent, the season of waiting for our Lord’s nativity, I can’t help but think about Mary and Joseph with no place to go, no place to have the baby.  It’s shocking when you really stop and think about Jesus being born into utter poverty, with only a barn or cave as shelter.  But it was enough.  The miracle of God coming into our world in the flesh happened in the poorest of circumstances.  This should make us stop and think.

What are we chasing?  What is important?  Where do we find shelter?

Today I will find shelter in the arms of God.  I will pay attention as He walks with me in the mundane parts of my day.  I will pray for the homeless in this cold weather, and I will hope that somehow they can see or feel God in the hard parts of their day.  And that may be through the outreach of ordinary people like you and me.

Listen to Shelter by Jars of Clay

Night light

night light

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

It’s been a long weekend already.  Things that I had planned so perfectly went completely awry.  I am having a hard time feeling thankful for these small trials.  And then a friend sent me this – please go read it.


And I remember that God often speaks to us through others.  I am not alone when I feel troubled.  Tonight  I definitely needed to be reminded that God is sovereign over all things – He has a plan.  I do not get to make the plan.  Sigh.  I am just a foot soldier.

He will reveal His plan in His time, not mine.  Sometimes we are in the dark, and that is okay.  I just want a night light!

Photo Credit


st lukes painting

“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:17

Last year I was restless.  For the entire year.  I kept thinking it was because I wasn’t working, or because my kids weren’t being perfect (ha ha), or because my house wasn’t perfect, or I needed more clothes (ha ha again).  I could feel it and my family could feel it.  I have been on this God journey long enough to know that you can’t shove other things into the God shaped hole.  Yet I tried.  Over and over again.  I am a  stubborn woman, God must shake his head a lot when he looks at my life and my actions.

The shake up of my orderly life happened in the summer and it gave me some perspective.  I could see that I wasn’t living in the moment with God.  I was worrying, focusing on things that don’t matter.  And then I began to remember that if I could slow down and stay in God’s presence, it would all be okay.  And by all, I mean even things that don’t seem good.  All is good with God.  

By slowing down and purposefully spending time in God’s Presence each morning I am able today (taking it one day at a time folks) to appreciate each day that God gives me to be here.  I am more able to savor the moments in the day, even the not so good ones.  And when I begin to stray, like a lost sheep, I can feel God reeling me back in.  Sometimes the shepherd’s crook is a call from a friend, or a look from a child, or something beautiful God has created (like autumn colors or the morning sky), or just a whisper in my ear from Him to slow down and let Him walk with me.

The photo above is of the Edwin Howland Blashfield painting over the altar at St Luke’s in downtown Atlanta – my childhood church.  This is the image of Jesus I carried with me for all of my childhood.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  And He wants all of us, especially the lost sheep.  (The mural is called, of course, The Good Shepherd)  My husband and I were able to see the restored mural recently and it is even more beautiful now than in my childhood.  There is more detail, more depth – there are more aspects of the painting revealed that were hidden by age.  God himself has  infinite layers for us to uncover.  We can never find all of Him because He is never ending.  And that is the beauty of the journey, if we pursue Him with passion and purpose we will be less restless because we are meant for Him.  I will not be completely full until I meet Him in the afterlife, but I can savor the moments with Him as I walk each day.

Listen to Restless by Audrey Assad.  

A servant’s heart

When Samuel went to sleep in his place the Lord came and stood there, calling out as before:Samuel, Samuel! Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

1 Samuel 3:9-10

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

2 Corinthians 4:5

God does not want piece parts, he wants all of us.  He wants to take our hearts and souls and make them new, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  This process is joyful and painful at the same time.  We let ourselves go and let God in.

This is not a new revelation to me, it’s just hitting at a deeper level.  It is possible that God is calling me to do something different in my life.  He may be calling me to hold my nose and jump.  I am discerning and praying and trying to trust, but I am fearful.  I want to be brave and trusting, but my control mechanism kicks in.

I am thankful for good friends with kind hearts and  listening ears, and I am thankful for a supportive husband who sometimes see the bigger plan before I do.  Today I am thankful for my teenagers as they become more responsible and begin to embrace the people they can be, with God’s grace.

I hear God calling me, how will I answer?

Please God help me be brave and strong and truly hear what your will is.


You will want to listen to Emmylou Harris sing Here I Am.  This has been one of my favorite songs for years, but has been on my playlist a lot in the past month.

Lord, I Need You

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”
~ Brené Brown

 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[b] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Genesis 32

I have read all of Brene Brown’s books, and if you haven’t read them I would highly recommend them.  Brene describes herself as ” a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.   She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.” (from her website).

She is honest, on the mark, and will help you see yourself and the world differently.  She talks a lot about staying in the moment and appreciating where we are – right now.

I worked in the soup kitchen yesterday and continue to be amazed at the joy filled atmosphere.  All of the volunteers seem to leave themselves at the door, and the kitchen is all about love, loving our neighbors.  I had an interesting moment while handing out the trays of food.  I was the ticket taker and tray hander-outer.  The person at the door.  Some folks don’t like to work that position, it makes them feel uncomfortable.  No one else wanted to work the door, so I figured I would give it a try.  My main focus was to look each person in the eye and greet him warmly.  It was easier than I thought.  Jesus was doing the work for me.  Towards the end of the line a gentleman came through and after I said “good morning,” he said back “you need to quit saying good morning to everyone because every morning is NOT good.”  I was caught off guard.  He was right and wrong.  I sat there for a minute unsure of what to say.  But as he walked off I said back “I hope the rest of your day is a better  day.”   I have no idea if he heard me, or if he cared.

What I wanted to say but didn’t have the courage to say in the moment, is this – every day can be a good day with God, even when the parts of our day, our lives seem unmanageable, seem not good.   If we open ourselves to God and His eternal goodness, we allow ourselves to be grateful, even in a the middle of a bad day, a bad life.    The shifting of our attitude allows grace to flow.   I have not walked in that man’s shoes and I do not know his struggles.  But I do know for a fact that every situation, no matter how horrible, is better with God in it.

When I first got sober the hardest part for me was saying that I was powerless, that God was in control.  But when we allow God to be God many things fall into place.  Sometimes life seems like a wrestling match with God, like Jacob in the Old Testament we want to have control over God, our lives, outcomes.  If we turn over our lives to Him, even starting with small things, we begin to relax and allow grace in.  This is hard – not easy to do – but even in just entering into the struggle, we are acknowledging God and inviting Him into our lives.

So today I am thankful for my awareness of God’s presence, His nearness,  all we have to do is call on Him.   I ask God to give me the strength to speak up for Him at the next opportunity.  To let others know about how awesome is our God!  I am thankful for the man at the soup kitchen who made me pause and think about where God is in my life.  He is the one I need all the time.  When He is at the center of my day, of my every moment, then I can handle all of the good and bad parts of the day.  My life is His, without Him I am nothing.  I am thankful that He gives me each day to live, that He sustains the world and everything in it,  and I look forward seeing Him face to face when the time comes.

Here is Matt Maher singing Lord I need you.  Enjoy.