“Tell her I AM. . .”

comfort one another“What should I do?” the widow asked me as I handed her a tissue.  “I don’t know if I should stay in my home or sell it.  I’m so anxious all the time.  All these changes are so difficult.”

This is when you have to weigh your words carefully.  Listening is best  – often they will arrive at their own conclusions.   “Why don’t you vocalize all your concerns to the Lord  right now – I’ll support you.”  I said.  She instantly bowed her head and started to pray.

After awhile, she paused.  (That’s when it’s time to stop and listen.)  We sat for several minutes in the warmth of His tangible Presence.  So sweet.  Then a clear thought entered my mind,  “Tell her: I Am. . .”

She looked a bit puzzled when I told her.  I was too, so we got our Bibles.

I opened to the book of John where I had a list of seven times Jesus say, “I Am . . .”

“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.”  John 6:35 He will satisfy every longing of our heart.  He will nourish us and sustain us with His life while we walk through every circumstance in life.

“I am the light  . . . he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness . . .” John 8:12   He will light the way.  Everything seems dark at first, but we have the light of Life to follow.

“I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved . . .” John 10:9    He is the keeper of all our gates, or doors – if we go in and out through Him we know we will be protected.

” I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” John 10:11  This is how much He loves us . . . He laid His life down . . . He is a good shepherd – He will never let us wander down the wrong path.  He protects us and leads us.  He will anoint our head with comforting oil.

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.”  John 11:25  When you lose a loved one, you may feel dead inside – as if you, and all you knew, was buried with them.  But the Lord of Life will bring your resurrection.  He is the new life to come.  His plan for your life has not ended.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”  John 14:6   He can be trusted to show us the way, tell us the truth and bring new life.  We have an open audience with the Heavenly Father – Jesus paved the way.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1  He will tend you as a loving Gardner.  He will take care of what needs to be pruned away.  Do not fear – trust your Gardner to take care of you.

When she left I sat back and marveled at how He met us, fed us, and filled a couple of widows with amazing hope and joy.  Wow.

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Craving the Chancy Carb

A Treat? 72Have you ever gone to the refrigerator looking for something . . . try this and that . . . and nothing is the ‘it’ you’re looking for?

When I have a food craving, it’s NEVER for “good-for-ya-stuff,” as my kids would say.  It’s for greasy-crunchy-starchy-carbos.  (I should write a song: Ode to the Carbo)

” ‘Food cravings arise to satisfy emotional needs, such as calming stress and reducing anxiety,’ says Drewnowski, a well-known researcher on taste and food preferences.

For many of us, cravings kick into high gear when we’re stressed or anxious. Carbohydrates boost our levels of the hormone serotonin, which has a calming effect. And recent research suggests that the combination of fat and sugar may also have a calming effect.”

If we aren’t getting the right nutrition, our bodies might be craving on a cellular level.

oden 3 10:15When my dog, Oden, craves grass, something is not right in his digestive system.  I wonder what we may be lacking when we crave the chancy carbo?

But they’re everywhere!

“Unhealthy food is highly accessible, it’s convenient, it’s engineered to taste good, it’s heavily promoted, and it’s inexpensive.”   But, carbs have gotten a bum rap.  We need smart carbs –  like whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. These foods give our bodies the carbs it craves along with lasting nutritional power from fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals.

The staple Bread we need the most is a Person.

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

“Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. . .”  John 6:27

Perishes: Gk – I kill, destroy, I lose, death is viewed as certain.  wow!

Endures: GK – remains, abides, continues, lasting, living, remaining . . .

He said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” 

(I’m jumping off my seat)  the word LIFE here in the Greek means:  I make that which was dead to live, cause to live, quicken.  God infuses His life into us when we receive His Word.  This enables living with God – not just for Him.

We are created by the Father to be sustained by the Bread of Life, His Son.  The yearning for this bread is built right into our DNA.

Nothing will satisfy us until our primary need is filled.

oden snow 1If you are struggling with food cravings, perhaps you’re like my dog, Oden, craving grass because you are in distress.

The most important step to cut your cravings is to be sure you are feeding on the Bread of Life everyday.

Assuming your spiritual hunger is satisfied first  – Here are a few practical  suggestions to help cut physical food cravings.   curbing your cravings.  (I don’t support any of the ads or weird links that may be included on these sites)

I avoid  breads except  Ezekiel bread?  It is made with sprouted grains.  Not the best for sandwiches, but amazing for toast. I keep a loaf in the freezer and take one slice out at a time. Their raisin is my favorite.

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What If The Lights Go Out?

lampHave you ever thought about what you’d do if the electricity went out for months?  Do you have candles?  An alternative way to cook?  A non-electric can opener?  Consider making some practical preparations.

I can’t believe my electric bill this month!!  I was sure they’d made a mistake so I called.  I finally got to a human being.

“No, your bill is correct, Madame.”   (quick gulp of grace)

I guess it will be my choice if I want  to spend my vacation money on air-conditioning in the summer.

I try to be very careful like  keeping night lights scattered around the house so I don’t have to turn on the big lights when I’m walking room to room.  I also bought some ready candles for emergencies.

I was totally ‘in the dark’ when a red light began flashing on my car dash-board.  I had to pull over, and get out the manual.  Lucky thing I did: it said, “Don’t drive it!”

Have you ever heard the phrase: “dark night of the soul”?   It’s a title given to a poem by a Catholic mystic named, Saint John of the Cross.  It narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to  Heaven.  It is not referring to the darkness of trials and circumstances in this life, but refers to the path of dying to our affections, to arrive at a sweet union with God.

Our flesh searches for things to chase our ‘dark’ feelings away.  We’re all guilty of runningcandle to the mall, turning to carbs and sugar, numbing ourselves with the computer or TV,  but it doesn’t fix anything.  It only gives us temporary relief.  Can you relate?  These are some of the affections God wants to strip away.  Anything that we put before Him.  I’m not saying these things are bad — but this sort of thing is too often our attempt at self-medicating what only God can heal.

The light we hunger for can not be turned on.  It’s not a diversion of any kind.  It’s not a friend, or a spouse.  Trying to make people our light only kills relationships, because no one can sustain that demand.   There’s only One Person who can chase away our darkness. Because we’ve been created, and programmed by God to need Him as our number one source of light.  He is our ENOUGH.

Our Light is a Person. . .

“I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”   (John 8:12 ESV)

By the way, He didn’t say, “I have light and I’ll give you some.”  He said He IS the Light.

No one can fix our darkness but Jesus.  Not a political candidate, not our Pastor, husband, or friends.  They may be blessings in our lives, but Jesus alone is our FIRST, and LAST, our Light and the Light of the world.


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Deplorable – Are You Ready?

ocean 3

The media reported Hilary recently calling half of Trump’s supporters “deplorable”.

I’m not going to say I am for Trump or Hilary.   No matter what your political stance may be, we have to come to the realization that no man, or woman, can fix this country.

Israel demanded a king and the Lord rebuked them saying; “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you (Samuel), for they have not rejected you, (saying he was too old to lead them) but they have rejected Me from being king over them . . .”  (1 Samuel 8:6)

There is no ‘king’ who can fix this country, people. Only the King of Kings and Lord of Lords can accomplish what is needed.

What really is deplorable?

We’ve put God in the obsolete bin.  No matter who leads this nation, the fact that we have moved God out of almost every institution, looked the other way and continue to slaughter millions of innocents in the womb, call what is perverted the stylish and new ‘normal’ . . . how can we expect either of these two candidates to ‘save’ this nation?

Will Trump or Hillary come into our living rooms and turn off the filth before our eyes?

Will Trump or Hillary change our overly sensitive, defensive, unloving ways?

Will Trump of Hillary heal our brokenness and give us clean hearts?

The only thing that will save this nation is if we drop to our knees and pray for mercy.  We have put God second – or – not at all.

Are you ready to be called deplorable?

Deplorable means: shocking bad, deserving strong condemnation.

Today, if you call yourself a follower of Christ and defend your faith with the Word of God,  there is an increasing probability that you will be called shockingly bad, deserving of strong condemnation.  We’re being lumped into a group that supposedly hates gays, and muslims, love guns and are uneducated.  Really?

Surely, we need to check our hearts to see if there is any hate toward another human being.  We’re called to love people.  But we are called to hate sin, as interpreted by scripture, and love righteousness.

Today, there are hordes of people being martyred for their faith (we seldom hear about it). Just like the disciples who were crucified, skinned alive, burned, stabbed and beaten to death simply because  they proclaimed Jesus and his resurrection.

We can only pray that we will have the boldness and courage to proclaim our faith, even in the face of brutal hatred.

Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

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Which is it . . . Rich in Spirit, or Poor in Spirit?

orthodox church“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

Being poor in spirit seems like the opposite of what most of us are seeking–to be rich in spirit. The Bible even instructs us to seek spiritual riches and warns against having an impoverished soul.  So, is this a contradiction?

What IS spiritual richness?  Spiritual richness is more than knowledge. The pharisees knew the word of God.  They were students of the scripture,  but they were arrogant and prideful, and unteachable.  They didn’t recognize the Word made flesh, when He stood right in front of them.

I don’t want to miss Jesus while seeking spiritual richness.

redeemer picAmerica has been on a fast track called personal growth and self fulfillment.  Everything seems to be about finding a better YOU.  We’ve bought into the lie that we can improve the flesh, that gaining enough knowledge is power and freedom.  But 1 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “godless myths” have little benefit.  We are, instead to “exercise ourselves in godliness” which is “valuable in every way, holding promise for the present life and for the one to come . . .”  He is a Rewarder of those who seek and serve Him.

Every once in a while, I make the mistake of thinking that my flesh has improved. Boy, is He faithful to show me how wrong that is.  I can train my flesh, and keep it under the rule of my spirit, but my flesh will always be untrustworthy.  It will always need saving. There is no blessing in a self-centered, self-fulfilled life.

I think there is a tendency in all of us to separate the benefits that come from knowing Christ with the Person of Christ.  When everything in the life of a Christian is centered around living in and with a Person.

My pastor recently said to me,   “He just wants us to be His.”

All tension drains right off me when I think about that.  It’s simple.  It’s clean.  That I can do.

What if all the rewards we seek from God, are not determined at all by the work of our hands?  But are, instead determined by the meditation of our heart?  He just wants us to be His.  Everything else flows from this.

I fear that too often we settle for a christian experience that is more like going to a cafeteria with a large buffet?  (Oh, yes, God is good)  We  come when we’re hungry, select whatever appeals to us,  go on our way, and return when we want something more.

I fear we approach Christianity with:  I’ll take some of this part . . . but I don’t like that part. . .  and we think we have spiritual richness.  This is not what He died to give us.

He came to give us life . . . and that life can not be lived separate from Him.

teedle and PapaHe wants us to live with Him. . . not visit only when we’re hungry.

Being poor in spirit means we are fully aware of our utter dependency on Christ.

This kind of knowledge brings the greatest reward.  The definition of the word blessed  is:  happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperouswith life joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of our outward conditions!  (Amplified)

Whatever our outward conditions are now, we can unleash His blessings with a simple whisper,  “Jesus, I need You.”




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Joy Is A Person

studio early morningThe sound of rain on the metal roof of my studio is absolutely wonderful . . .  6:00 a.m, coffee in the studio, and the inspiration to write.  It  makes me happy.

But, I want to talk about JOY.


Americans are addicted to ‘happiness’.  Never mind if it’s right or wrong, as long as it makes you happy — that’s the important thing.  But happiness is shallow, temporary, dependent on surroundings and feeling.  It’s not a gage to measure morality.  Telling someone to do whatever makes them happy might be very poor advice.

Here are some of my thoughts on JOY:

JOY  is rooted in Christ.

We often mix up joy and happiness.  They are not the same.  Happiness can be separate from Christ, God’s Joy cannot.  Joy is the fruit of His goodness in our lives.   It’s not something He doles out in discriminating portions, greater for His favorites, less for the ordinary.

It’s not possible to have Jesus and not have Joy, because Christ is the endless source.

Joy is a fruit.  It’s the second “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) The first being love.  Our awareness of  JOY grows as our relationship with Him grows, but the seed of that JOY came in its fullness when we opened our hearts to Him.

A thought:  Have you considered that the listing of the fruits of the Spirit is a progression?  Everything stems from being rooted and grounded in love for Christ (#1) If we are in relationship with Him, we’ll have joy (#2).  If we have love and joy, we’ll have peace (#3).  If we have love, joy and peace, we’ll have long-suffering and gentleness and so forth.

Joy doesn’t run out.  You can’t use up your joy and then need more.  We can lose the sense, or awareness of His joy, but it never leaves us.  It doesn’t drain away when life comes down hard and we’re torn to pieces by tragedy, happiness does, but not JOY.  Because our JOY is a Person.

Joy comes mixed with hope.  It’s the cement that holds us together when our circumstances are saying there is no hope.  When Bill died, I had a deep JOY knowing the hope that I would come through the grief.  It supersedes circumstances, feelings and surroundings.  It’s present through the saddest times, and the greatest pain.  It’s present when you’re happy and when you’re not, because our JOY is Jesus.

Joy is our strength.   “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)  During this period in Israel’s history, the law of the Lord had been forgotten.  Nehemiah brought it back.  The people’s awareness of their sin brought tears mingled with gratitude and Nehemiah said,  “This day is holy unto the Lord . . . therefore, mourn not, nor weep: go your way; eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared . . . for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  

Notice JOY’s connection with the Word (law) of the Lord, and sharing what you have with others.  Maybe our lack of joy is connected with spiritual starvation and self-centeredness.

Joy is by faith. Circumstances may rob our happiness, but nothing can steal our joy.  We have joy when we are at rest in Him.  However,  we can have all the money we need in the bank, but  we don’t withdraw any we will always remain poor.  Sometimes we have to reach for what we need.  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)  What stands on the other side of the door you’re knocking on?  Is it a thing?  A feeling? Or is it a Person?

Do you need JOY?  It’s yours, in Christ, already.


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Oh Oden!

oden ready to goReady To Go!!!!

I was packing the last things in my car before leaving for my ministry engagement, dressed in new black pants, and turned to see Oden behind the steering wheel of my car.

He had already polished off a tin of mints left on the dash – so, he was minted-up and ready to go.  (You know you can’t be in the ministry without a good supply of mints)

“You can’t go, Oden.”  I barked.  He glared at me and held his ground.  That’s when I noticed he’d just been in his wadding pool!!!  (Interesting: he has a pool and I don’t.)

oden let's go 2 Oden lets go 3So much for my new black pants — oh Oden

Oden sure knows how to stand his ground when he wants to do something.  One hundred and twenty-five pounds of ‘puppy’ determination is not easy to move.  I lured him with one more mint.

Interestingly enough the topic for my seminar:  Standing Your Ground . . . or, in Oden’s case,  Sitting Your Ground.

I dragged out my ugly bermuda shorts, sat on the wet car seat, and left. Well, Lord, I have a feeling we’re going to have a good time.   And we did.

The Holy Spirit was there – along with His faithful ministers waiting for His lead.  Sylvia Evans calls my introductory story time before each session:  Marji Moments.  I love that name – yet it does make me wonder if she’s thinking: Marji is having a moment?

There’s something about where I am in my ministry journey — I just show up and people start laughing!  (I trust not AT me, though the bermudas got a few chuckles before I changed.  I think it’s the blinding streaks of WHITE that protrude from the bottom of the shorts — my legs!  Besides, I can’t resist taking the occasional duck stance)

It’s hard for me to be serious for very long — but I’ve learned that it is a part of the anointing on my life. I believe God wants His kids to laugh.  But, even though my listeners seemed geared up to laugh at any moment, the message He gave me this time was a serious one.  Learning to stand our ground against the wiles of the enemy.  This is no laughing matter, but the joy that follows is definitely a happy thing.

The team always has a brief meeting before each session.  I responded to something that was said with “its a happy thing.”  Instantly the music was in my head and when I got up for my “Marji-moment” I sang the chorus that was hot off the press.  I wish you could have been there to hear those women sing along with me.  It was a God moment and a new chorus has been born.

It is an honor to be in the ministry, and I couldn’t do it without the power of the Holy Spirit and the faithful prayers of my friends –Even when the engagement starts off with a wet car seat!

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His Heart and His Hands At Work – the Gypsy Church

gypsy churchFor me, the highlight of our trip to Ukraine was when we visited the Gypsy Church.  They  greeted our team enthusiastically.  These warm-hearted, affectionate  people let us know how glad they were to have us visit.  The 90 degree, humid weather, and no air-conditioning, didn’t stop their tight hugs and generous kisses.  This rather reserved American, who doesn’t like touching when it’s hot,  got swept off her feet.  And, I loved it.

Before I tell you my story, I want to tell you about the Gypsy people.  The Roma people are a much-maligned people who live primarily in Eastern Europe but are also all over the world.  More commonly called Gypsies, the Roma people are thought to have emerged from India in the 11th or 12th century.

A superstition that gypsies were thieves, baby-stealers and fortune tellers led to their enslavement and years of persecution throughout Europe.  During the Holocaust, Nazis killed between 220,000 and 1.5 million Roma.  (The Roma People of Carpath-Ukraine, by Michael Parker)

Gypsy 2But out of the ashes of hundreds of years of persecution, God is building His church. One cherished brother in the Lord carries the heart of God to hundreds, if not thousands, of Gypsies in Ukraine.  The churches he oversees keep growing.

Their worship was amazing.  Gypsies are known for their skillful musicianship.  I later learned the worship team were professionals who travelled extensively in ministry. We were so blessed.  The people responded enthusiastically to my music, too.  Open tears were heard throughout the audience as I began to play.  Music is their language, and God was anointing mine across language barriers and cultural differences.  It was amazing to watch.

The Lord anointed Kat’s music, too (a young woman on our team)  She played keyboard and sang.  The worship team spontaneously joined in – wow.  It was an awesome time. God is grooming her.

gypsy village 2I spoke on the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well.  Though she came at an hour when the fewest people would be present, fearing the glares brought by her reputation, Jesus was waiting–just for her.

The theme was:  God heals the brokenhearted.  Kat returned to the keyboard after the teaching and the prayer lines began.  Everyone crowded up front, (swarmed is a better word) surrounding me, petting my arms and back.  We stood, Nan and I, for almost three hours.  They just kept coming.  Tears drenched our shoulders.  Their sweat slicked our cheeks as one by one they came to be prayed for.

“Father, lift the sadness off Your daughter’s heart . . .”   “Heal this broken heart . . .”

Mothers brought their little children:  “Pray for my child . . . ”  the interpreter helped me understand.  Liver diseases.  Kidney problems.  Heart issues.  Little ones with adult size problems partially due to poor nutrition, a history of poor water, and a health system that treats the Gypsy last.

carpathukraine2With every ministry trip, you pour out, you pray, and then you go home and try to pick up where you left off–but you can’t.  A mission trip like this changes you.  There’s a side of it that you just can’t write about in a blog, or even testify to.  Most wonderful are the intimate moments with the Lord when you can feel His heart, and His hands at work.  It’s watching the change in a woman’s eyes, knowing your part was infinitesimally small.

We’ll never know the fullness of what He accomplished in their hearts until we see Him face to face.  I know I don’t have to wait until Heaven to know what happened in mine.

(Last photo from Michael Parker's post, Author unknown)
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Because One Woman Couldn’t Walk Away

ukraine boyHe wouldn’t look at me at first. He peeked out from his mother’s skirt, curious, but afraid.  Scratches, etched by his own little fingers, dotted his face. Slowly he raised the little truck he held tightly in his hand.

See . . . ? 

I gushed over the scuffed toy and I saw a cautious trust appear in his eyes.  Tears burned in my throat as my spirit felt the trauma of the life he’d come from.

I could feel the love of God in my eyes.  I think he felt it too, because he let go of his mother’s skirt and lifted the toy up so I could have a good look.

His sister stood next to him. She wore her history in her eyes.  Deep purple circles framedukraine girl her sad eyes.  What have you seen little one?  What has happened to you?  When I took her picture, a hint of a smile arched her eyebrows.

Five more appeared.  Brothers and sisters from the same mother, from the same abusive past. Fed by neglect. Undernourished.  Growth stunted, bodies underdeveloped.  I was told they ate mosquitoes to stay alive.

Then an angel appeared.  Her name, Maria.  She wasn’t beautiful, but she was glowing.  A women, with her own three children, adopted these seven out of the pit of hell.  The ‘father’ and birth mother–drug addicts–caught in their own netherworld.

The children arrived in Maria’s home barely able to walk, some not talking at all.  One year later, they are clean, loved, walking and talking.  All because one woman couldn’t walk away.

Because one woman couldn’t walk away.

Marie came up for prayer.  Another adopted son, this one age five, had his arms locked around her neck.   “He won’t let go of me,” she said through the interpreter. “It’s not good for him or me.  Please pray.”

What prayer do I pray when this little child carries the scars of an unimaginable past?  What words to I shape?  Holy Spirit . . . pray through me.

The moment I placed my hand on him, he squirmed to get away and squeezed even tighter.  I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.  They gushed forward as the words came:  “Father, please sever the cord holding this child to the trauma of his past.  In Jesus name.”

ukraine boy 2She thanked me and walked away.  The little boy never lifted his head from her neck.

The prayer line continued, but a part of me never left those children.  A family of twelve living in a tiny, two bedroom apartment with no father.  How does a woman bare such a burden?  Only by the grace of God.

And it was the grace of God that caused that same little boy to come running into the church the next morning with a smile on his face.

He is free!

Marie was beaming.  “He’s so different.”

Thank you, Father.   And thank you to every person who prayed for our team.  More stories to come.  Blessings, me

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Put On Your Dancing Shoes!

page 1 - coverI know what you’re going to say . . . “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?”  I’ve been here, but not blogging.  This has been a time for writing my book, finishing my two new kid’s books: Is That My Bus?  and “Baby Moose in Blahville.”

Plus, of course, grandkids, church, and Oden the Awesome (now one year old and 120lbs)  Phew. Don’t ask me about a clean house and tidy gardens.

I spend so many hours at the computer with illustrations and writing that I’m pooped out by the time it comes to blogging.  But there’s more . . .

Things are changing–have you noticed?

The Holy Spirit is turning up the fire in our bones for Papa’s Kingdom.  NOW is the time for us to stand-up and step into the dream God has in His heart for each one of us.

Many of you, like me, are coming out of a long, dry season.  Well, I hear the Lord saying, “Put on your dancing shoes and hold on tight because I am waltzing you into new dips and turns, and moves of My Spirit.  If you want to venture with Me into the dance I am dancing in this hour–focus your attention on how I am moving moment by moment.  Don’t rely on dance moves from the past.  This is a dance you haven’t danced before, though it is built upon the moves of the past.   Lean in, stay loose, don’t think you know the steps of this dance because I’m leading you in ways beyond your experience and skill.  The only way you can keep on the toes of My shoes is to lean in, remain flexible and let Me lead.

Are you losing interest in things you used to consider important?  If you were to ask a health professional they’d probably tell you about depression, because losing interest in things you used to enjoy is one of the signs. Or, maybe it’s because the Holy Spirit is giving us new priorities and interests.  Maybe the new things God wants us to be focusing on won’t allow us the time to do those other activities.  I would never downplay those who  do suffer from depression, but consider what I’m saying.  Maybe God wants us to let go of some things in order to free our hands for new things.

July 12th, I’m leaving for the Ukraine with a small team from my church.  When I was considering if I should go, a man came up to me at a meeting, pointed his finger at me and said,  “You have an international anointing.”  I did not know that man, but his encouragement was the blessing I needed to say yes.

I don’t like to travel.  I like to stay home.  Stay in my safe routine. Sleep in my own bed and never miss my afternoon nap.  But God is saying “GO.”  I have an old suitcase I took to Africa 20 years ago, but then I thought, if I have an international anointing I’d better get a suitcase that will be easy to maneuver.  Where will I go?  I don’t know.  The steps beyond the immediate ones are a mystery to me–but I know I have a little part to play in the dream of God’s heart . . . and it will be good.

I’m hoping that this blog will do two things:

1.  Encourage you to step out in the dream God has put in your heart, and trust Him for step by step guidance.

2.  Remember our team in your prayers as we venture out into new territory with the Lord– from July 12th through the 27th.

God bless you all, Love Marji

Blahville cover green

Is That My Bus and Baby Moose in Blahville can be purchased through www.marjistevensshop.com in August


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“Away, intruders! Away!”

robbin3“Move OVER!”  Feathers squirmed and shifted in the nest.

I’ve been watching the nest over my front door for weeks.  I couldn’t see how many eggs, but I knew eggs were there because mommy robin hovered over head  every time I tried to sit on my swing.  She’d chirp loudly and  dive at the porch, swerving at the last minute.  I was a huge intrusion to her space.

Then one day, seemingly overnight, a little beak appeared . . . then two, three, four.

Bird poop accumulated at my front door, seeds everywhere, a dropped worm or two–now covered with ants.  Birds are messy, for sure, but I don’t care.  This is holy ground, the birthing room of new life.

robbin2Today I risked a brief swing, but momma wouldn’t have it.  Then I heard ruffling, grabbed my camera, and caught the first launching.  Momma screamed in the background,  “Get away! Those are my babies!”

I meant no harm, but she didn’t care.  She was small compared to me, but her size didn’t stop her.  An intruder was in her claimed space and she fearlessly fought to preserve home and family.

Can you tell where I’m going with this?

We’ve been given so much as Christians.  Are we defending our God-given space?  Are we bold fighters against every intrusion from the world?

When discouragement looms over your heart, what do you do?

When messages surround you,  saying,  “God won’t provide,”  or “He doesn’t love me,” or “There’s no hope in God,” what do you do?  Do you fight against the intruders of your faith and inheritance in Christ?  I know how easy it is to let them slide right in, not realizing the cost of my complacency.

I hear the Holy Spirit this morning:  “Don’t let the intruder in your space.”

robbin4I was privileged to watch one bold little robin fly from the nest.  He couldn’t go very far, but he did it.  And his brothers and sisters followed. The fourth robin hid behind the grapevine over the door, too timid and unsure, but gradually hopped and flew over the porch railing.

robbin1It happened so fast.  They were just eggs–moments ago–and now they’re flying.  We don’t have many years to influence our children before they want to fly.  Often they fly before they seemed ready to us, but they are determined to be on their own.

I’m a year from seventy, my son’s are in their late forties, where did the time go?  When I study them I can see the good influences of home and faith, and I can also see where we might have done a little more of this and that.  Now I watch my grandchildren, standing on the edge of their nests wanting to fly.

robbin5Chapel, age four, told his mom she needed to drop him off in my driveway and NOT get out of the car.  “The big kids don’t need their mom to walk them to Mimmy’s door. You stay in the car.”  He’s already stretching his wings, pushing against little-hood, wanting to be the “big kid.”

They grow up so quickly–and don’t want the same kind of protection anymore.  But we can pray.  We can watch closely and pray boldly:  “These are our babies . . .Away, intruders.  Away!”

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The Walking Temple

sunrise 3 -11:15“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

There is a written word, and there is a speaking word.  Jesus is the speaking Word of God.  God is not a withholding Father, His nature is love expressed.  Jesus, the Word, came to speak to man.  God wanted to be heard.  Jesus is the very heart and mind and voice of God.  The all supreme Creator of Heaven and earth with legs–a  physical form that the world was able to see, and hear, and touch.   A walking temple.

My little niece is pointing to a beautiful rainbow.  Imagine if that rainbow suddenly took on flesh and walked right up to her.  Hope with legs!  How thrilling.

savannah:rainbow“And looking at Jesus as He walked, he (John the Baptist) said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ And the two disciples (with John) heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.”  

Imagine standing there, in the heat of the day, watching the Word of God walk toward you.  Imagine the impact of His presence that made those men drop everything and follow.

What was it that made you start to follow Jesus?

The woman at the well left her water pots and ran to her village to tell the people what she had heard.  “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in him because of the word of the woman . . .” (John 4:39)  That’s  one level of faith: believing the Word because of the testimony of another.

But Jesus was sent to express the a love beyond mere acquaintance.

“So when the Samaritans had come to Him (they said) . . . Now we believe not because of what you (the woman) said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.  (John 4:42)

“We heard for ourselves and know . . .”   

DSC05983There is a knowing that infers being aware of something.  Then, there is a knowing that comes from a developed relationship, from spending time with someone like a friend.

We know our parents, or siblings, our good friends.  But beyond friendship, beyond accumulated knowledge, comes a deeper relationship of intimacy, like the intimacy of marriage.

We have been invited by the Word made flesh to move  from being aware, to friendship, to intimacy. My husband and I had a deep relationship coming from forty-two years of communication. We spent hours talking and hours in each others embrace.  Father wants us to sit in His embrace, listen to His whispers, and know Him deeply.

The walking Temple . . . the Speaking God . . . our hope made flesh . . . the One who knows when we sit or stand . . . is knocking on the door of our heart today.




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Which Warnings Do We Respond To?

warning signSocial media is full of warnings these days.  It’s dizzying. And they all scream for immediate attention.

Which warnings should we listen to?

Confusion hangs in the air like heavy humidity.  I could fill this blog with just the warnings I read on one visit to Facebook. Everything, from the way we eat, to finances, to the condition of our country.  Just listen to our candidates threaten doom if we vote for their opponent!

There is SO much happening around us to cause anxiety. What is our approach as Christians?  The only warnings we need to pay close attention to are the warnings of the Lord.

The one I’m hearing this morning is:  “Be anxious for nothing . . .” (Philippians 4:6 NAS)

You might say,  “Yeah, that’s nice, but you don’t know my circumstances.” Or, “It’s not that easy.”  I know.  War is never easy, and that’s exactly what it is.

acid-warning-sign-s-0317Why do I see this verse as a warning?  God isn’t telling us this so we can be happy.  He’s warning us because He knows how crippling anxiety is,  and the stealth of our enemy.  Anxiety can’t be handled with a quick gulp of Pepto-Bismal.

God never gives us a warning without showing us what posture to take.

Philippians 4:6 continues,  ” . . .but (instead) in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

“I pray!” you say.  Me too, but too often we leave prayer with the same frame of mind as  when we started.  I dare to say, when this happens, it’s possible we never really prayed at all.  We’ve only complained.  Prayer is meant to be two sided relationship. If all we do is talk at God and never listen to what He has to say, we’re settling for a one-sided relationship.  He might have solutions we’re missing because we’re just dumping, not communicating.

If we stop with “Be anxious for nothing . . .” it’s enough to leave us frustrated. “How do I do that, God?”  Here’s the answer: after we’ve cast all our cares, and focused on thanking Him for who He is and what He has done for us,  He gives us a promise.  “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 NAS)  

Jesus able to sleep soundly in the boat while a storm was raging, because the reality of His Father’s kingdom was a greater reality than the reality of the storm.  That’s His example for us to believe for.  He is greater than any anxiety, any problem, any feeling.

This morning I had to swim through the yucky, entangling weeds of anxiety and worry before I could get to the clear waters of trust.  It took a while, but He encouraged me to press in until I laid hold of the promise.

 True peace flows from a heart that knows God is bigger than our problems.


I believe He is whispering His warning to us today:  “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis  4:7 NAS)  

The Lord wants us to master the circumstances of life with the peace His so desires to give.

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NAS)



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Is That My Bus? Finding God’s Direction

Hazel page 1 climbed from bedI’m working on a new children’s book: Is That My Bus?  Little Hazel is going to school for the first time.  She has BIG butterflies of excitement but is unsure which bus to take.  Mommy makes sure she gets on the right one.  It’s a little far fetched to think the child has never seen a school bus perhaps, but it’s a story–a parable, about finding the right way to go.

Then Hazel sees the correct bus filled with her friends, she is filled with peace and gladly gets climbs the steps and waves good-bye to her mom.

hazel p7 Is this?


Sometimes it’s difficult to discern God’s will.  Especially if you’re doing something you’ve never done before.  I’m going to the Ukraine in July–that’s a new one.  I prayed for a specific word and the only one that came is in John 14:6 . . .

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

There may be one person that I’m going for, one soul who needs to come to the Father.  Perhaps God will grant me the privilege of loving them into the Kingdom.

I taught my kids to be propelled by peace.  If you’ve prayed about a decision, and feel peace, go for it.  And we have a God who will correct our path should we go the wrong way.

Peace gives us courage.  Knowing God’s gives us peace.  Are you seeking direction?  I’m not a formula-minded person, because I believe God wants us to rely on the Holy Spirit, not a formula.  What I do is pray, wait, and get good council, then pray and wait again.

Often, I’ll being seeing myself doing what I’m asking direction for.  For example, I can see myself riding on the train through the mountains of the Ukraine.  I can see myself doing art with children and singing.  I already can sense love rising in my heart for the people I will meet.  And I have a sense God is going to do something really special in me.

hazel rumble roarIt takes courage to step out and do something for the first time.  Just like little Hazel going to a big school, in a big bus, for the very big, first time.  I cried when my boys left on the school bus–sobbed my little heart out.  Then I kicked up my heels and enjoyed being alone in the house without the rug rats ramming around.

There has been a lot of “first times” for me since Bill died. God’s faithfulness kept me making right decisions–even when I didn’t pray and wait and get council.  Because, Father loves, loves, loves us–more than we could ever love Him.

What a happy thing.  Step out boldly, friends.  Father would rather you need a course correction than cower in fear of making a mistake.

Happy, happy, friends,  Marji

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But if it feels good . . . isn’t that enough?

Chapel's Autlo 2“I think you turn here,” I said to my friend on a trip to Houghton.  My job was being the navigator reading the google map.

“No,” she said.  “That doesn’t feel right.  I think we should go this way.”  She confidently turned the car around, and it turns out she was absolutely correct.  She went with her peace.  Google said, “That way . . .”  The Holy Spirit said, “This way.”

But if google said . . . isn’t that enough?  We can’t look to the world for our guidance–even from the google-god.  We have to look to Jesus and His Word for our guidance.  It’s easy to forget we are not of this world.  We are citizen’s of God’s Kingdom.  The world can not be our guide.

But it feels good . . . isn’t that enough?  Heroine feels good, but is it God’s best?  Hardly.

But everyone is doing it . . . isn’t that enough?  When God called us to holiness, that was the first sign that we would not be living like everyone else.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 1:9 NIV)

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written:’Be holy, because I am holy’.” (1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV)

Chapel's AutoWhen Paul was a prisoner, King Agrippa ordered that he and other prisoners sail to Italy.  When sailing became dangerous Paul advised them not to continue.  “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss . . .”  Nevertheless, the centurion in charge believed the helmsman . . .and the majority advised them to set sail.”

Majority is not the rule.  At first a southerly wind blew and things seemed fine.  Then, the wind shifted and in blew a fierce, eastern tempest called, Euroclydon.

Paul had God’s direction, so Paul had God’s confidence–even in the center of  Euroclydon.

Our world is increasingly dangerous.  All the issues in this country scream for immediate attention as if facinig a giant, unsolvable tempest. (unemployment, the dollar, debt, crazy viruses, terrorism, to name a few) As Christians, we need to have our ears tuned to the Master as never before. Our decisions must not be based on majority opinion.  If the world says, spend, it might be just the time to save. Our behavior must never be determined by what everyone else is doing.

The soft wind mentioned in Acts 27:13 gave the crew a false sense of security.  “And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose,  putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete.”  It must have felt right, but the Word of the Lord had come warning them not to go.  They didn’t listen.  These men were seasoned sailors.  They must have known the dangers of the Mediterranean, right?  But, in dangerous times, our experience must not be our guide either.

Sometimes God’s “no” doesn’t make sense.  It may seem contrary to all the voices around us.  But without God’s “yes” we will not have God’s blessing.  That, to me, is more frightening  than any Euroclydon I might face.  Paul interceded, and God’s mercy came and they were all saved, but with great cost.

Chapel's Auto 1My grandson and I like to play “Chapel’s Auto”.  We draw the road and the buildings and then move our little cars around. We’ll  play this for hours.  He is learning to read the signs.  Stop.  Go.  Wait.  I pray, especially in these days, that we read the signs, hear God’s small still voice, and never venture on without His peace.

Father, help us be more attuned to Your voice than ever before.  Forgive us for choosing the ways of the world over Your holiness.  Please, in Your mercy, lead us in this hour in the ways of righteousness.   For Thy name sake, Amen.



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