I was slow to learn the value of Choice Activated Living. I lived – ironically, by choice – in the Land of Indecision. My struggle was two-pronged: First, decision making for me was complex; ergo, a complicated process. It included the desire to please all the significant people in my life with one choice. (I resisted the obvious: one choice rarely suits all.) And I complicated the complex by wanting to leave my options open (delay making a decision) in case a wonderful opportunity came my way last minute. So….

Options Left Open Just Left Me Gropin…
Taking up residence in the Land of Indecision proved to be a type of self-imprisonment. Fear of not pleasing everyone gobbled up my initiative and I was equally hobbled by the fear of missing some hoped for fun if I locked in a decision prematurely.

Lesson long spurned – but a lesson He insisted I learned: Living by Choice increases life’s joys – Living by Chance and Happenstance decreases life’s joys.

Embracing Choice Activated Living for my Self (for my mind, will and emotions)
Choosing to express goodwill towards others seemed to be instinctive to me. But I had to choose to become intentional about showing goodwill toward myself. I was often ruled from within by my “Get it done to prove your worth” mandate. How good it is to embrace the “Be good to yourself” challenge …even though the phrase doesn’t seem to fit comfortably under “Rules for Proper Christian Conduct”.

The Father’s Lovesong to us is “You are My beloved children.” And He is the Father Who loves well; loves unconditionally; even as we lurch uncertainly (and usually very slowly) into living from this Perspective. Only in knowing we are loved by Father God are we able to:

“…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as (you love) yourself.” Matthew 22:37-40

Unless we know we’re loved by God, we love ourselves and others poorly. The road of life is strewn with the remains of love accidents. Prime perceived cause: failing to be loving unless we feel loved. And failing in love can be an accident with long lasting injuries. There is so much speeding into relationship in hopes of being loved or being the answer to someone else’s need for love. Underlying foundational cause: Neglecting to have goodwill toward ourselves…loving ourselves in godly ways so that we able to love others well.

Becoming Kindling
As “kind ones”, acting out of the choice to be an agent of good will/God’s will, we become kindling, set aflame by the His passionate love and our choices. Then we set afire the dry places in others with our deliberate acts of kindness…so hope can begin to emerge from dying embers of life gone awry instead of staying aflame with Divine Hope.

But what if you (as I did) have neglected to keep embers of goodwill toward yourself alive within you? Well, I found out. His passion and my choice were more than enough to spark fresh flames of renewed hope in who I am BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS in me. My pilot light just needed a re-light from Above. Maybe yours does too?

His desire is to transform our practice/discipline of showing love into the REAL DEAL: Being His Love to others. And oh how basic is our need to be loved. And Being LOVE, He is able to transform our negative choices as well as our bungled tries into mulch for our future…

Mulch – decayed material used to enrich soil

Interesting thought: The mulch – mistakes and misgivings of our lives – enrich the soil of our hearts, giving us greater capacity to love organically (without additives/agenda). And hence we become love fertilizer in the hearts of others.

The Daze of My Life Pressed in on me – My level of productivity seemed reduced to a snail’s pace these past two weeks. Small wonder. What started out to be our first getaway by the ocean in a very long time changed dramatically the first night. My husband lost his balance on the slick kitchen floor and broke his nose. Never knew so much blood could flow from the nose. Immediate intro to neighbor. He turned faint at the sight of blood but recovered to call an ambulance. Three more trips to the ER and several visits to the ENT doctor followed after our return home. I could write more than a page about the events…if I could figure out how to make it a devotional.

My Senior Editor megaphoned me a question – Make that a comment and two questions. The comment, Let Me remind you of the line in your last devotion after, “Blessed are the pacemakers”:

They RECOGNIZE God’s stride

“Do you recall that I set your pacemaker on Slow?’ And “What part of SLOW don’t you understand?”
His tone was neither angry nor impatient…just insistent, making it clear we weren’t moving on to a new subject. Remember, my mind mode is minimum 8-track and the Father has been working with me for a looong time on “consider this one thing” … this one thing being intentionally moving at a slower pace.

One more comment from On High – “I tried to clue you in. I painted a picture of My intended S-L-O-W pace for you by employing the circumstances that interrupted your life. Let’s take a look together so you get the full picture.

Looking Back to Get God’s Perspective – “You both agreed to stay on your trip and make the best of it.” (Which turned out to be mighty good.) “You both weathered well the really excessive bleeding and initial ER trip…and then three more ER trips and visits to the ENT doctor. (Why are they called visits??) You both kept a good attitude and chose not to be concerned about the things that weren’t getting done. And because of these choices, you were able to see the benefit that came out of the trauma: review and change of meds so problematic bleeding has been controlled. And MAJOR, MAJOR: you both stayed at peace.” (Much easier for me without broken nose!)

Progress Report – “C for improved Seeing by the Spirit and responding to life in new ways. You’re learning to “get life” from My Perspective. Can’t be done with your track shoes on or your mind racing.”

The Father’s Open Invitation
My pace for each of you, My daughters and sons, is individual and is laced – kept in place – by My peace – and generously covered with My grace.

“You will keep him/her in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You.”

And, HE LOVE LEARNERS/practicers….(read above for proof)…and take Paul’s words to heart:

“Practice what you have learned…and model your way of living on it,
and the God of peace – of undisturbed wellbeing – will be with you.”
From Phil. 4:9 Amplified

(Yep…while we’re practicing – learning, His Peace will be with us…maybe not evident at first, but when we relax into His grace, we’ll begin to experience His Peace … and even His pleasure.)

After reading the last devotion on getting fitted with His pacemaker (to help me learn to embrace His slower pace) my friend Connie graced me with this word arrow:

“Blessed are the pacemakers”
For they recognize God’s stride

When I allow Him to set my pace; not only allow but learn to enjoy His stride; I become a pacemaker for others as well. Admittedly, His pace often feels like marching in place, But I’ve discovered that the more I yield to His pace and allow His peace to reign within me, the greater impact I have in drawing others into His peace. I will …

“Let the peace -soul harmony which comes from Christ – rule
over your heart – act as umpire – deciding and settling
with finality all questions that arise in your mind. And I will
choose to be thankful….”
Personalize from Col. 3:15 Ampl.

“To have good days; good whether apparent or not; I will
speak no evil (guard what I allow to lodge in my heart – (Prov. 4:23)
and comes out of your mouth – (Phil. 4:4) – And I will choose to pursue peace
with God, with myself and with others.
Personalized from 1 Pet. 3:9-10 Ampl.

I take pleasure in sensing the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. And I so believe that the Father delights in our taking His Word and Holy Spirit promptings personally (whether from sermon, books, study, conversations or inner knowings). His love towards us is boundless

For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”Zeph. 3:17

I invite you to slow down and take His Word into your heart – Let Him impart what He’s personally conveying to you.

May you welcome both His pace and His grace each day

Making another stab at pushing past a growing laze phase that’s enveloped me; holding me captive. I’ve been pinned to the wall of inactivity as surely as a skilled wrestler pins a novice wrestler to the mat. Only I had gone beyond the can’t get up to … I don’t want to get up… The melody in my heart had become an ongoing lullaby; wooing me to yet another nap. Slumber is sweet but puts no mileage on the feat of activity.

And the daze seemed so unexpected…plopped right in the middle of MARVELOUS news: RESTORED VISION !! Actually better vision than I’ve had since childhood.
I can even drive again … and read the signs ! ; compute without magnifying glass.

So what’s this Lazin’ Phase About?
I can just hear my friend Georgia urge me, “Google it on the screen of your spirit. Ask the Lord, What’s the deal here?” And so I did.

To my surprise, the words “The Law of Inertia” came to mind. I was living the definition of inertia…doing nothing; nada. But I needed to turn to earthly Google for more understanding.

Under the Law of Inertia
I learned from experience that being under the Law of Inertia is binding… As I penned a friend, “I’m sluggish in thought and pace” and nothing in me desires a change of pace.

Basically Isaac Newton’s Law of Inertia states that an object will stay at rest as long as nothing pulls on it or pushes it. (Likewise an object will stay in motion as long as …. .)

A Wave of Insight washed over the shores of my mind
The need for the surgeon to insert an air bubble over my 2nd corneal transplant to cause the new cells to settle in proved to be insightful for me emotionally as well as physically. Just as he needed to exert a little gentle pressure to push the reluctant new cells to gel, maybe I needed to give my recalcitrant will a push..

And so …
Today, I was prompted to push myself a little by computing sans any desire to write in hopes of escaping the mire of inertia. And so I dipped my thoughts tentatively back into the waters of life even though I hugged the shore.

Wouldn’t you know….
As soon as I hit the Send button on E-moDevo #20, the typo in the Subject (plus a few punctuation errors) stood out BOLDLY. In the not so sweet years gone by, the discovery would have caused a wave of extreme discomfort to wash over me. Thankfully, I’ve learned to laugh at myself and that’s VERY good medicine for my soul.

A succinct* Mary Englebreit greeting card hand delivered by friend Melody came to mind”\

“She who laughs lasts”

Holy Spirit promptings and the Dictionary
Searching the dictionary for added meaning has become a treasure hunt for me (thanks to my friend Georgia). So often, the word definitions hold Holy Spirit gems…as in the noun and verb forms of “lasts”:

Lasts – Verb (action) – continues to function well for a considerable or specified period of time

This served as a continuum to “laughter is good medicine”. When I take joy in life – even in my own foolishness – I’m actively partnering with Him in my ability to function well for “the full number of my days”. (Ps. 90:12)

Lasts – Noun (identity) – a shoemaker’s model for shaping or repairing a shoe

And this profound noun puts fresh wind in my sails. My laughter – my taking joy – is the model (the way of life) that shapes and repairs my soul .,, much like a shoemaker revives soles.

Practice what you have learned – model your way of life after it
And the God of Peace will be with you. From Phil 4:9 Amplified

I’m practicing…and experiencing His Peace…
As I prepare to go back in for eye surgery re-do tomorrow morning. I expected smooth sailing – vision restored – in my second corneal transplant (as in my first one), That hasn’t happened.
But I’ve learned that doesn’t mean God was caught nappin’ … nor is unconcerned. He’s added gems to my treasure chest in the process…and I see the gems! Some I see as through a jeweler’s light searching my inward parts, kindly revealing the growth areas the Father is setting before me and then providing the power to change.

“It is His kindness that leads to repentance.” Rom. 2:4

“Walk out your own salvation (your daily walk) ,,, Not in your own strength …
For it is God who is all the while at work in you … From Phil. 2:12-13 Amplified

Have you noticed? I’m an Amplified Bible advocate because it…well…amplifies!…providing the full meaning of the original Hebrew or Greek language. Why are the quotes shown as From the Amplified? Well, it’s possible to get lost in the amplification – very wordy – so I share the portions the Holy Spirit highlighted for this particular time and purpose.
*succinct – briefly and clearly expressed

After a recent corneal transplant, my eye surgeon made it clear that, during the time my vision remained foggy, I needed to “Keep eye movement to a minimum to encourage the healing process.” Well, he was talking about foregoing things held dear…reading, studying, writing by hand and computing. But restored eyesight is a more than worthwhile goal. Well, my physical vision remains foggy, but some of the ban against eye movement has been lifted.

Toned Down “To Do List”
I was able to take the bustle out of my To Do List because so much of my doing was dependent on reading and writing. But the cutting back didn’t bring me peace. (*_*)

Expectation v.s. Experience
I expected to appreciate the more peaceful pace. But remaining content without Bible, journal, computer and pen proved to be daunting. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Him in the Word and journaling and time with others by e-mail…and increasingly rare snail-mail. Without this fulfillment, I became listless; lacking energy and enthusiasm.

The Father Discerned what I needed to Learn (Again)

“…for you are to learn to be content in this present circumstance. ” Personalized from Phil. 4:11

Sometimes the familiar needs to be wrested from us; taken by force (for me, by doctor’s orders, which is forceful, indeed). The lesson at hand became clearer. My foggy vision unveiled my foggy perception of myself. Though I viewed myself as being at peace, restlessness had surfaced unexpectedly…followed by inertia.

Become aware of the signs within you
“Pay attention to what you’re experiencing within you. Restlessness is meant to alert you to the need to move beyond where you are.” That was a wakeup call

“He who would love life and see good days…
Let him seek peace and pursue it.” From 1 Peter 3:9

I couldn’t deny that pursue means get moving. The fog lifted as I got the drift of His directive. He was calling me to go through this present discomfort; this restlessness; by choosing to move forward.

“Choose this day whom you will serve…” Joshua 24:15

The Father was reminding me of my commitment to Him and the necessity of discipling my Self (my usual behavior) to more and more be ruled by my devotion to Him rather than by my emotions. And I needed the reminder that the ongoing tug of war within between my spirit and my carnal nature is won (battle by battle) by godly choices and intentional action.

“Wake up, O sleeper. Live purposefully – intentionally – making the most of
your time. And be ever filled with the Spirit.” From Eph. 5:15-18

This offering is longer than usual….just like the wait in between this devotion and the last one

My growing (spiritual and emotional maturing) has oft been accompanied by my moaning. The soil of my heart still hosts seedlings of complaints. As the Gardener tends to enriching the soil, He takes pleasure in the new shoots of compliance to His will. And He knows well how to pull out the tares of my defiant ways. For He is all together skillful in all His ways,

“The Father is the Vinedresser; the Gardener; and He knows what branches need pruning
to bear more fruit and what dead branches need to be cut off.” From John 15:1-2

Outgrowing ingrown ways

I SO wanted to believe that accepting Christ was my ticket to freedom…from pain, trouble and disappointment. So, I edited out a very troublesome Scripture:

“In this world you shall have tribulation….”

Jesus’ promise following this fearsome declaration – “but fear not for I have overcome the world” – held little comfort for me. I was seeking ongoing assurance of a life without dis-ease.

Learning my part in becoming firmly rooted in His Love became a long term project for me. Didn’t have to be…but I under-exercised my faith concerning His trustworthiness toward me. My faith focus was on believing in His faithfulness to others … and then jumping in to “help God” (at times ignorance can be s-p-e-l-l-e-d arrogance).

Courage Coach…for others

Because of my lack in exercising my personal faith muscles, I became a practiced emotional limper (as well as whimperer). Though I would leap tall troubles in a single, fearless bound on behalf of others, I was bound by the limp of fear in acting on my own behalf. So personal life challenges prompted me to waver and waffle rather than to wield the Sword of the Word confidently.

Overcoming Wavering

“No unbelief or distrust made Abraham waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God.” Rom. 4:20 Ampl.

Overcoming wavering, my Tutor proffered, comes through the discipline of practicing believing God and trusting what He says in spite of your fears (undeveloped faith). Discipline – train yourself toward godliness – 11 Tim. 4:7-8 Practicing – Practice what you have learned and the God of peace will be with you – Phil. 4:9

No wiggle room out of my part

“(You) Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding,
but in ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct your path.” Prov. 3:5-6

Becoming limber in the Spirit …required Getting my limp from the Lord…not from my fears.

“(Limp) out your salvation…but not in your own strength!” Adapted from Phil. 2:12-13

My limp – my limitations – are an ever present reminder that “in my weakness, HE is made strong” I am absolutely unable to walk out my salvation without His strength.

Until Jacob wrestled with the Lord, he schemed his way through life. The Gen. 32 account of his contending with God left Jacob not only with a limp (as a permanent reminder of his need to depend on the Lord) but with a new name; a new identity.

And so it is with each of us. This Close Encounter of the Divine Kind, this daring to struggle through to our new identity in Him, leaves us both limping (well aware of our dependence on Him) and leaping (gratefully alive in His strength). Yet I falter still. But the times I become faint-hearted and shrink back in fear, I’m learning to waste not my failures, but to fall forward into the arms of His Abundant Grace.

The limp received from His Hand limits my ability to move quickly and gives me the gift of motility* and increases my mobility** !

Our Limp at the Hand of the Lord allows us to Slow Down to Catch Up with Him !

*motility – a change in position (confident not fearful) without change of location (able to stand fast)
**mobility – the ability to move easily and unrestricted by our environment (freedom to move forward)

I’m at one of those “where do I go from here” places. Thoughts and themes have flooded my mind and flowed onto paper and, some, into computer…but then standstill sets in. My informal deadline is passed and I can’t get passed pondering the message of Easter.

Of Donkeys and Palm Fronds The week begins with high elation. The throngs paid Him honor by laying their cloaks and palm branches down before Him. No doubt they pondered why He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Did they have a clue to the veiled meaning that he came in lowliness and peace, not on a horse symbolizing war and victory?

Jesus knew what lay ahead of Him…agonizing suffering and death and, maybe worst of all betrayal…yet He enjoyed – joyed in – those who thronged around Him.

Pondering the Passover Meal Surely His disciples weren’t aware that this would be their last meal with Jesus; His Last Supper. And why would He choose to wash their feet? His words made the lesson clear: “As I have loved and served you…go and do likewise.” (Jn 13:13-17)

Even as He supped with them and served them He was aware that His betrayer was among them; that His journey of suffering was set before Him. Though in Gethsemane He cried out to the Father, “Take this cup from me”, He submitted His will to the Father, “Nevertheless, Thy will be done.”

Ah, NOW we’re getting to the heart of the matter He is listening for my – for our – “Nevertheless…:
The Holy spirit prompted me again, “See the thread of humility and the tragedy of betrayal in place of loyalty. You too are called to humility; to love when those closest to you have betrayed or slandered you. This is the Way of the Cross by way of your Gethsemane.”
“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; even
As I have loved you….by this everyone will know that you are my disciples
If you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Good? Friday – Yielding to death to Self – holiness feels like you’re dying. like you’re losing it. And you are! You are losing the false self, which you foolishly thought was permanent, important, and you! – Adapted from Radical Grace – Richard Rohr

And, oh, how I’ve tried to squirm out of dying…out of any pain, refusing to believe there would be gain at the end of the pain. I kick against the goad of suffering, even though in looking back, I can see the gain from each time I’ve been pressed into experiencing the pain of my circumstances.

From Wrecked to Resurrection I’m committing (hesitantly) to going through death to my old ways; yielding to death in the areas He reveals, “It stinketh”. The journey takes me again through Gethsemane and beyond…to embracing the Cross.
When I yield to dying, I can look forward to Resurrection Sunday (not a complete death like Jesus on the cross) but moving toward more room in me for Christ to make His abode.

“Arise from the depression your circumstances fine you in…
arise to newness of life.” Is. 60:1 Amplified

I’m coming to understand that truly, Faith is a LEAP into the unknown; a call to trust and lean not on my own understanding. And, oh, how I resist not knowing; having no control. How about you?

“Faith is a journey into darkness; into not knowing” – Richard Rohr

When I’m in the flow of the Spirit, it’s easy to add my thoughts to His flow and then forget to check in with my Senior Editor aka Holy Spirit before I hit the Send button.

So, He had a gentle word of admonition about the last devotional, The Porch Light is always on, “We did a good job on that one, but in your eagerness to share the redemption – the transformation – in Terri’s story, your ending seemed a little like an obituary, rather than a living testimony.” (i.e. ‘Beloved wife, mother and grandmother…’ )

What’s the Good News I Left Out?
“Tell them she’s ALIVE…and doing life well; not perfectly…and that’s more than good enough for Me. The Porch Light beckoned her home… Then, in time, the most necessary step of all, she dared to open her heart to welcome the fullness of My Love….the fuel for doing life well.”

Experiencing the Light of Grace…
Our task is to come home to Love and to ask for what we so desperately need.

“…hope (the Porch Light) makes not ashamed, because the love of God
Is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.” Rom. 5:3

“Ask and it will be given to you…for everyone who asks, receives…
If, earthly fathers give good gifts, how much more will the Father give
the Holy Spirit to those who ask!” From Luke 11:9-13

We’re not dancing the “One Step”
The Father is singing to each of us,

“May I have this dance for the rest of your life?!”

Getting in step with Him takes letting go of fear to let Him near
…that took me many a year … and I still have so much to learn about following His lead.
Receiving the Father’s Love is meant to be our ongoing dance. Like moths ever drawn to light, our most basic need…knowing we are called to be loved; called to know we belong to Him; to His family.

They cut Me down but I leap up high
I am the life that will never, never die!
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in Me
For I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

“Dance, Dance, wherever you may be
For I am the Lord of the Dance, says He.
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be
I’ll lead you all in the Dance, says He”.

Words by Sydney Carter 1915-2004;
Music – Adaptation of Simple Gifts (a Shaker tune)

Our porch light is on 24/7. Has been for years, because my older daughter Terri’s long ago definition of love remains etched on my heart. And the story behind the definition touches into the heart of each one who hears it.
There was a season in her life when we didn’t know where she was. During that emotional winter, the Father comforted me with what I still call Terri’s Psalm… personalized, the better to give my soul rest:

“You, Lord, know her thoroughly. You know her downsitting and her uprising (even her uprising against herself); You understand her thoughts…You search out her path and are acquainted with all her waysl There is nowhere she could go from Your Spirit. Nowhere she could flee from Your presence? Ps 139:11-3, 7

And, though she went from “perfect, do-everything-right, Christian daughter, to an out on the streets drug user, He confirmed these Psalm-calming Words with, “Lo, I am with her always …” Matt. 28:20

She chose the self-destructive path to finding “the real me” when she broke free of the constraints of being my “trophy daughter” who I eagerly presented to prove my worth. Surely her being a top student and athlete as well as leader in youth group added value to my stature. (Dumb-de-dumb-dumb).

When supplying her drug use pressed her into felony money gathering, she ended up in California Institute for Women. There her high humor saved her from many a treacherous circumstance. As in a restroom encounter: She was of slight frame; no match for an attempted sexual assault by a giant-sized woman. The Lord prescribed the right prescription for this dire scenario. Terri’s quick witted stance and response, “Put up your dukes!” The assaulter’s lust turned to lusty laughter.
“Laughter is good medicine.” Prov.17:22
Terri had her poignant and profound side as well. In group therapy, she responded well to the Question of the Day: “What is your Definition of Love? She shared more than her definition of love…she imparted how she experienced love; how her definition comforted her. “The porch light is always on. I am always welcome to come home.” Hearing that was and remains a balm to my soul and brings lightness;brightness to the heart of each one who, seeking to be of help, asks, “Did you know your porch light is on?”

The End of the Story…to HIS glory …She DID come home…
Well, not THE END…but The Exit from the old to His making all things new… Terri looks back on her former life as viewing a stranger’s journey. She has long abided in the LIGHT OF HIS LOVE and is a Porch Light of His Love to others. Beloved wife, mother and grandmother…and portable porch light drawing others into His Circle of Love.

May your heart croon with mine: “This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine…”
Public Domain-Based on Matt. 5:14-16

“I love your writing. You really have a way with zingers, but I think what really matters is the life wisdom you bring to the page. You say hard things, but you make them go down like warm apple pie.” David Kopp - executive editor, Multnomah Books

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