Ruts and Loops


In a RutLoops and ruts make traveling easier because they force me to go where others have gone or cause me to spin mindlessly in a tight circles. God’s message this morning was that ruts and loops keep my heart from experiencing the freedom He has in mind.

Ruts are safe, and loops are a lot of fun. I’ve spent most of my journey in one or the other; as a result, I’ve found myself stuck in places and relationships that are not good for my heart. Hearts are made to spiral upward not spin in a circle or ride in a rut.

When automobiles made their way into the American lifestyle, ruts were important because they kept travelers from becoming lost in unknown territory. Roads were muddy, and ruts brought order. It’s what a rut is designed to do.

When I manage to get out of a rut, it’s difficult to get back in. I’m on my own. The same thing happens when leaving a loop. I find myself being flung away from the crowd. Fear of being alone keeps me fused to ruts and loops, and that’s exactly where God does not want me.

God doesn’t do ruts or loops even though we do our very best to get Him into ours. He will not be contained, and my heart is designed to be the same way. It isn’t supposed to ride in a rut and whirl in a loop. Hearts are made for freedom, and love is the most freeing force in existence. Christ proved that on the cross.

As folks were making plans for Thanksgiving yesterday, I felt left out because I wasn’t included in any of them. That happens a lot since my daughter-in-law’s family resides in another state. I understand the predicament, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. I went to bed feeling out of the loop and sorry for myself, once again. My thoughts dig a deep rut in my heart if I’m not careful with them. They are a lot like a plow out of control!

I decided to give my thoughts to God before I went to bed last night.  I slept peacefully and woke feeling wonderful and smiling at the humor of the situation. God assured me this morning that being out of the loop is exactly where He wants me to be. If I have any sense at all, it’s also where I should want to be.

Holidays are the worst time for ruts and loops. Hearts get hurt, and folks are left out of or overwhelmed by the crowd. Self differentiation is the key to living and loving as God desires. He wants me to stay connected  and love in ways that allow my heart and the hearts of those I love to be free.

God held my thoughts last night and changed my mind with His images of cars in ruts and kids on coasters. Both helped me nudge a little nearer to where I need to be.


Seasons of the Heart

Fall is my favorite time of year. I’m an October girl by birth and by choice. There is nothing more beautiful than the leaves of a maple leaning against an October blue sky in the mountains. I have a dear friend who grew up in New England, and she tells me I haven’t seen anything that compares to the colors of a New Hampshire fall. I put seeing one with her on my bucket list because God is never nearer to my heart than when I witness fall’s transformation. As the saying goes, “I can hear God in every season, but I can see Him in the fall!”

October is about change. Transition is part of transformation, and that rarely comes without suffering. Fall has always signaled change in my life, and often that change has been painful. This year, change involved learning to let go. Just as falling leaves make way for new ones, letting go allows my heart to make room for  the love God has in mind. When I have trouble letting go, God does the pruning for me. He knows what needs to go, but He also knows that timing is important when it comes to trimming.

I have the tendency to foster unhealthy relationships and have trouble severing ties which are not good for me. No one understands the importance of pruning better than God. This definition of synaptic pruning applies beautifully to any area of growth, and I think God would agree that it captures the essence of the important process.

Synaptic pruning eliminates weaker synaptic contacts; stronger connections are strengthened. Experience determines which connections are pruned and the ones that have been activated most frequently are preserved. Ineffective or weak connections are “pruned” in much the same way a gardener would prune a tree or bush, creating the desired shape.” Source:…

God is the Creator, and I am His creation. The process of creating His desired shape for my heart takes a lifetime. That isn’t because God needs a lifetime; I do. He could make me perfect from birth, but then I would never experience the seasons of life and love that teach and transform my heart. Beauty comes from dying to self, and that is never more obvious than on a beautiful fall day.

Love goes through seasons, and each has its own beauty. The vibrant colors of fall become the clear etchings of winter, and the soft greens of spring melt into a lavish tropical display in summer. The heat of summer invites me to soak up the sun and play in the water; but fall  bids my heart to rest and grow.

I find hope in the fall, rest in the winter, awakening in the spring, and play in the summer. The seasons of my heart are very like the seasons of the year. I love the mountains of western North Carolina because we have four distinct seasons that bring beautiful growth to my world and my heart.

Fall 2007

I Am My Father’s Child


When I took this picture of my son and his daughter, I was thinking of God’s love for me. Lillyann was fussing terribly, so Tyler held her until she settled down. The word translated “repent” at the end of Job is a Hebrew word that describes the sigh of release that comes from a child who has stopped struggling. Christ’s story of the prodigal son reminds me of that sigh. The son is ready to beg his father for a job. He is hoping for a handout but receives an embrace that surprises all. We recently finished a four-part series on Luke 15 that caused me to pause and reflect on my own longing to be embraced.

“We have all of these influences in our lives by whom we long to be embraced, but we will never be fully accepted, fully embraced in this world. Father God says, ‘I want to embrace you for your being, not for your doing. Will you come home? Will you let me embrace you?'” (Jeff Helpman-“Scandalous Grace Part Four” October 12, 2014)

Christ’s vivid image of a father running with abandon toward a son he believed to be lost models God’s love for us. He didn’t care what others thought or whether his reaction was the right one or not. Love caused him to forget and forgive all and run into his son’s arms. I’ve always loved the story and often wished my own father had been able to love me the way the father in this story loves. God reminded me that my father ran down an embankment and jumped into a muddy lake with the same abandon when he kept me from drowning the summer I was five.

Daddy didn’t say, “I love you” or embrace me tenderly; but he loved me the best way he knew how. He did his best to prepare me for the rough hands of this world. He knew I wasn’t going to make it if I couldn’t pay attention, so he had to do something. He chose corporal punishment to get my attention, and it worked. My spirit was broken, but I learned to pay attention. I loved school and ending up teaching for thirty-three years. I had a special place in my heart for those who had a hard time staying focused because I understood their struggle. I wouldn’t recommend his method of teaching, but it did give me the discipline I needed for success.

I am my father’s child in many ways. He had an insatiable curiosity and loved to learn. I am very like him in that regard, and I see a lot of him in my son and his sweet daughters. I love my father, and I’m thankful I was able to tell him that before he died. We had a rocky relationship for many decades, but we became very close before the end of his journey. I was with him when he had his stroke, and my mother insisted that I take him to the hospital. As I watched him losing his grasp on reality, I held his hand and told him what I knew he needed to hear. It is the same thing my heavenly Father wants to hear. I told him that I knew he loved me. He relaxed, and I saw relief settle into his beautiful blue eyes. It was a turning point for both our hearts.

Fall has been a time of beautiful healing in many ways. I’ve looked back in love at how my heart was handled and come to see that it was handled the best way those holding it could handle it. That may not make sense to some, but it has helped me see that we all love differently and imperfectly. Christ’s precious love is perfect, but ours never will be. That doesn’t mean we can’t try to love as Christ loves. I believe it’s what the story of the prodigal son is all about.

Looking Back in Love

Looking back is difficult while trying to go forward, so I stopped for a moment this week and let God show me where I’ve been. I took a long, loving look back at my journey and remembered with love and gratitude the events, people and places that shaped my past. I’m reading “Becoming Myself Embracing God’s Dream of You” by Stasi Eldredge, and it’s giving me a new perspective on the influence my past has on my present.

I’ve looked back before, but never in love. Fear filled my glimpses back with shame, hurt, anger, and bitterness. As a result, I’ve tripped, stumbled, and fallen flat on my heart each time I’ve dared to delve into the past. Looking back was frightening, so I learned to let it go, forget about it, and pick up my pace so I could get as far away from it as possible! What a blessing to go from looking over my shoulder in fear to revisiting memories in God’s loving presence.

Letting go is important, but looking back honestly and with love is transforming. Knowing where my journey began and the importance of those sharing it is necessary for complete healing. In her book, Stasi Eldredge tells of a missionary from Ethiopia who works with young girls rescued from human trafficking. He told her that the extent to which the girls are able to tell their stories determines the extent to which they will heal. I cried as I read that powerful truth.

Telling my story is important, but telling it truthfully with love is essential if I am to heal as God desires. I felt His transforming healing this week when I stopped seeing myself as a victim. I am a traveler. I didn’t determine my direction as a child, so the path wasn’t really mine. I was caught up in my parent’s journey, and they were doing what they believed was best for me and for themselves. I learned to make decisions that reflected theirs, and that kept me stuck in the past.

God helped me see that choices are mine now, and letting Him help with those choices is making a big difference in my journey. He always has been and will always be with me. That gives me the courage to go where He leads.

This picture was taken in October, 2007. I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway with a friend who delighted in showing me God’s handiwork. It’s wonderful to have loving companions who hear my heart because they make the journey a joy.  A friend once told me that people come into my heart for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I’m beginning to understand that truth, and it’s causing me to love in a new way. Love is about the freedom to be who I am and the courage to allow others to be the same. That understanding allows me travel with or without company. I know God will be always there to help me see the love and beauty around me. He will also help me look back in love and forward with sweet anticipation of what He has in store.

Fall 2007

I Wonder….

Wonder wakes my heart and directs my wandering mind. I love words, and wonder is a favorite of mine. The dictionary definition for the noun form reads, “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” The verb is to, “desire or be curious to know something.” 

God gives each of us the gift of curiosity. It is a thirst which drives us to His love. Jesus tells the woman at the well in John 4:14 that “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (NASB) The woman was filled with wonder and wanted to understand something inexplicable. She was not satisfied with the  world’s water and knew in her heart there was something better. Christ’s words awoke her wonder.

The desire for something better, newer, bigger, faster, etc., is never-ending. Christ offers another way of living. He offers living water that creates a wellspring in our own hearts. Christ’s precious love doesn’t pass through us like all the other things we put into our bodies and minds in an attempt to quench a thirst only God can quench. We all know about thirst we can’t quench and hunger that will not go away. God knows the source of all yearning is a desire to be loved, and He also knows that satisfaction needs a never-ending source.

God doesn’t take away our thirst, but He  does offer to quench it once and for all. The old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink comes to mind when I read John 4. This woman’s thirst, like all of ours, comes from a deep need to be filled with something other than what the world has to offer.

No amount of water, food, sex, power, money, or drugs comes close to a drop of the living water Christ offers to the woman at the well. I can refuse or delay, or I can take a little taste and walk away; but if  I drink deeply, His love becomes a beautiful spring in my own heart. The choice is mine, and it always will be. God doesn’t force His love on others, and He doesn’t force others to love Him back. He knows unconditional love is the only thing that will satisfy. The wonder of the woman at the well is in all of us, and I’m thankful for that wonder because it brought me to a fountain of living water that changes the way I live and love.

I wander when I’m distracted or disturbed, but wonder always brings me back to His well. I hope I never lose the wide-eyed wonder that fills me with a desire to embrace His “beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, and inexplicable” love. I believe it’s what Jesus meant in Matthew 18:3 when He said, ““Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (NASB) Children have a natural sense of wonder until we destroy it. It would be a wonderful world indeed if we allowed children to help us find our wonder so we could find our way back to that fountain and drink deeply.

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