I’m Excited to Share ….

It was once said, “Writing is the painting of the voice”.

With that thought in mind, let me introduce a beautiful friend of mine, Janet Hines !!Janet Hines.JPG

Janet is a photographer and author on a journey of restoration and learning to be grateful for brokenness. Through photography, travel experiences and writing, she brings together pieces of life in ways that connect with the hurting people who need to know they are not alone. Her heart’s desire is to build a community of hope through sharing Christ all of her days.”


Janet’s voice, Janet’s writings have recently been captured, threaded together and bound for public view in her new book:

InBetween the Valley and the MountainTop

And, this is what Janet has to say about it:

Well, Hello


There are times in our lives when

we experience the lonely and empty roads.


Going through the process of identifying my audience – my reader – I kept thinking it was everyone. “NO Janet – keeping searching” I was told. “This book may meet many at some point and bless them, but who is your specific audience?”

I connect with more women but keep reading guys! You are welcome here too. “Not narrow enough – still” they said. (Guys still welcome!)

I worked through every story one more time and there I met them – the people who look a lot like me. And I know, I’m not alone on this path. These are not telling you how to “get over it” stories – these stories invite you into my adventures, experiences and my journey through grief in death, divorce, addiction and mental illness in our family.


Even in the big cities like New York, as seen in this picture

I took from the Empire State Building, loneliness thrives.

Many travel with me but often our heads are hung, gazing at the ground, alone and lonely, walking with blinders beside our eyes, not seeing the fellow travelers shuffling alongside us. My journeys have taken me to the high mountain peaks, the below sea level paths, the badlands and deserts, fording rivers and being lost in the forests. But, most of all my journey is about moving – moving and learning with God as my Guide.

In the process of moving, I find scriptures like this that encourage me.

Colossians 1:12-14

“…and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Experiencing God’s forgiveness empowers us to extend forgiveness to the world we live in and we experience a freedom we never before knew.

And it’s not the face in our mirrors that connect us but the broken hearts we hold in our hands with a death grip.  We are certain if they break one more time, there will be no hope, not enough pieces left to hold in our hands, and fear and helplessness shoot another root into our souls.

This is a story of redemption. This is a story of great hope. A story where the roads merged and I quit living my life half in and half out of relationship with God. The place where I came face to face with the reality there is only one way to become whole again.

A story that invites you to join God and begin a journey down a new road, one walking with Him as His hand lifts our chins and we discover the immense love He has for us. Watch as He puts the pieces of our hearts back together again, the scars becoming a beautiful reminder of who we once were but recognizing who we have become. We are learning that we have nothing to fear when we find ourselves alone and everything we need to reject loneliness, helplessness and hopelessness.

We learn to reach for Him in our empty beds and find Him in stillness, in the early morning hours when we don’t sleep. We learn being still is beautiful because we no longer carry the weight of our brokenness. We learn there is beauty in being alone and not being lonely.

I lift my hands in praise to God our Father, the one who loves us, the one we find when the paths merge and we walk the path leading to Him. So, here is my hand. Come walk with us as our community gathers, moving through what would break us, we will live redeemed!

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Let’s close with this tender word and I thank you for being present here with me on this journey.

Revelations 21:4

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

“Lord, please forgive us when we forget how real Your love for us is. Please help us turn to You when our pain is unbearable. Help us turn to You when we only need a bandaid. Keep us turned to You in all things of this life. We love You, Lord. Amen.”

Janet, my friend, your voice is soulful, your photos inspiring and your new book is simply engaging. I invite all to purchase their copy of –

Between the Valley and the Mountaintop: Glimpses of God in the Middle Places by Janet Reeger Hines 


Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.
Rick Warren

Spreading The Good News of the Gospel

Well, it has been awhile, but now it its time to get back to the work of spreading The Good News of The Gospel.

Last night, I did a trial run with Brooke, Melissa and 8 other gals kind enough to come and listen to my message. We gathered in Brooke’s uptown apartment, shared snacks and I stood behind a parsons chair using it as a makeshift podium. We rehearsed three scheduled sessions and spent over 4 hours together. I appreciate the attendees sacrifice as most of them were dental school students with a limited amount of free time. Studying is usually at the top of their to-do list.

After an evening together,  they gave me a thumbs up, assured me others would see the face of Christ in my story and encouraged me to continue on my journey.

Because of their support it is easy to share that I’ll be heading to the Dallas area for the first weekend in April. It is here that I will shakily climb the steps, to stand on a stage and once again sing my praises to the One who saved me.

And who knows, if lives are transformed and hearts are touched at this ladies retreat, maybe the Lord will send me to another group to share with.

As for now, the message is prepared, the green light was given and what is needed is prayer. Please keep this retreat and the ladies attending in your thoughts and conversations with Jesus; asking Him to open the eyes and hears of all who will travel to Camp Compass in Denton, TX during the first weekend in April.

Coppell Bible Fellowship – I’m comin’ at ya!

coppell 2

coppell 3



A Christmas Coffee

Better late than never!

Life has moved me in many ways over the past two months. However, the last few days have presented themselves with a much slower pace. Therefore, allowing me to think, to reflect and then to seize the wonder in my life.

If busyness creates an auto-pilot attitude; relaxation allows space for awareness and contemplation.

As I sit in the stillness, I acknowledge the nudging that I received. First, it came by way of a few lines of text I read from Andy Andrew’s book, The Traveler’s Summit. There Mr. AA The Travelers SummitAndrew expounded upon the responsibility of sharing our stories, so others may be strengthened. Then, in a series of Sunday sermons, Pastor Josh, emphasized the importance of witnessing to others the power of God in our lives. Combining those two outward signals with my internal awareness and I am convinced it is time to write; time to capture in words that special meeting that occurred in a coffee shop that sits on a corner.

The world around me was bustling during December of 2016, the holiday season was in full swing and expectations were high. Gifts to purchase, decorations to put up and out and family gatherings were all on the to -do list. Yes, my body was busy as I pressed in to prepare. However, I wasn’t fully engaged because my mind often wondered to what was planned for the morning of December the 26th.

Melissa and I would meet each other for the first time. Can you imagine, meeting your daughter for the first time after 35 years. (If that statement doesn’t strike a cord with a reader, I don’t know what will.) Only Brooke, David and I knew what the day after Christmas would bring.

Combine the chaos of the season and the crazy twist my life had taken, and you can imagine I had to work hard to maintain my composure. And, the only way it happened was staying in step with My Savior and bouncing and running everything that was happening by Him. As well, I unpacked and used several of the well-honed tools in my spiritual tool kit. Ones, I had perfected while coping with the loss of Samantha.

Honestly, I can remember sitting in the wooden chair with my bottom pressed to the cushion covered wicker seat and my back set straight while passing the rolls at the festively decorated dinner table. To control my thoughts and calm my body, I recited to myself my personal mantra, “Elizabeth, Just Do Today! Today, is Christmas, when we gather together and celebrate Christ’s birth. That is what today is about! However, tomorrow is a new day and that is when I will meet Melissa.” This mindset, given to us by God Himself, has served me well in the past. Christmas Day 2016 was no different. I did the day with joy, gratefulness and a minimum amount of anxiety.

Days before I questioned, ” Brooke, do you want to join me?” “Yes, absolutely, I want to go with you!” she answered.  Brooke embraced the newness of the situation with an obvious affection. Brooke’s longtime friend Kate helped instill this grateful mindset.

During an online chat exchange between the two, at the same time I was bearing my teenage soul to Brooke, Kate typed a life changing response, (in blinking curly-que typeset I imagine) “Brooke, you have a sister, you have a sister now. After Sam died, that is all you ever wanted and now you have one!”

Because of Kate’s encouragement and positive perspective, Brooke’s thoughts were centered on gratitude rather than groveling or judgement. She welcomed the circumstances rather than seeing them as an intrusion.

What a beautiful thing to witness when a friend whispers the words that echo the power of love to a longtime friend.

So, because of a mixture of curiosity, excitement and I pray a tad bit of support Brooke was led to accept my genuine invitation.

Through it all, I didn’t try to figure out how “I” “felt“, but I knew my steps were ordered by The Spirit. So, having learned to level my emotions, because to respond to truth is more sacred, I went to sleep after a busy Christmas Day knowing I would wake to a new chapter of my life. As unsure as I was in my flesh, I was that solid in my Spirit.

The answer to any hesitancy that tried to enter the situation was to not waiver in my humanity, but instead to move forward with my eyes on the cross!

I believed God brought me to this crossroad and I believed that He would carry me through. I trusted in His nature, but it was an inner struggle to maintain my grip on His supernatural presence. The world told me to be afraid, ashamed, unsure and overwhelmed. I’m certain, if I had relied on myself, the mid-morning meeting might never have occurred. And, I knew that was not what Jesus was about.


Instead, Jesus is about redemption and restoration, completion and compassion.

I anchored my entire body weight in this truth to see me through!

“Mom, would you like me to drive?” Brooke asked as we stepped into the garage. “Yes, please, I think that will be a good idea.” I responded appreciatively. By now, I knew it was smart to receive any offer of help or support thrown my way.

The conversation while we crossed the bridge was intense. ” Mom, I would want to know, too if I was Melissa!” Brooke showed her full support and understanding with Melissa’s position. “OK, well I am thankful you are able to consider her position in all of this. I appreciate your sensitivity.” I responded honestly.

The conversation continued to be powerful and honest and endearing. I was grateful for Brooke’s maturity, her external awareness and eagerness. It sure did pave the way for me. I took the humble approach and hung onto Brooke’s coat straps as she boldly swept through the door of the coffee shop.

Brooke and I looked around, starting left we scanned the sparsely seated booths, on over past the checkout counter, scanned across the hallway to the restrooms and then we spotted her. There was no mistaken, who Melissa was. She was anticipating our arrival as much as we were anticipating our own. Willingly, I let Brooke lead the way, as if to fashion my steps in sync with her open heart. As I was becoming slightly unhinged on the inside, Brooke walked with a courageous cadence and made a beeline to the beautiful woman who was tucked into the corner.

Oh, just imagine, the hugs, the tears, the apologies, and the forgiveness that was on public display. It was as epic as you can imagine! And, a sacred time indeed! Eventually, we settled down and the emotional introductions moved to a more formal precautious conversation. Everything was new, and nothing was guaranteed. We all had a lot of skin on the table and no one wanted to come out more scathed and scarred than they went in.

As the Holy Spirit moved among us and our tender hearts began to take over our skeptical heads our dialogue became sweet, compassionate and open, especially, between Brooke and Melissa. At one point, I remember thinking, “Why am I even here?” Melissa and Brooke were so deep in conversation about being DENTISTS,  I thought they had forgotten I was there!

Yes, God’s first confirmation that he had ordained our reunion came in the acknowledgement that Melissa was a practicing dentist in the New Orleans area. By this time, Brooke’s career choice of dentistry was solidly chosen. Yet, Brooke needed to complete the entrance requirements and be accepted into school. The bond between the two was set immediately – they saw themselves- in each others’ eyes and immediately stepped onto common ground. Their conversation was excited, animated and energetic!

On the other hand, as their relationship hit the ground running, I sat in the far-right corner of the booth and realized, I wasn’t there! Emotionally and spiritually I was still deeply wounded by what had happened. It takes time to process and recover from a 35 year secret.  Simply put, I wasn’t ready to fully engage in this new relationship and expect it to work if I didn’t start from a solid foundation. I was disappointed in myself and in my current state of soul. But, I knew it best to backup, be honest with myself about what had happened, get the required help I needed to heal and then begin again.


The mid-morning reunion between Melissa, Brooke and myself continued, when, somewhere in the middle, Brooke abruptly stopped the conversation and stood up. Not knowing what was happening, I narrowed my eyes and watched Brooke’s actions like an eagle.

Honestly, there were a lot of emotions criss crossing across the shiny slick wooden table top. Anything was possible, but all was set straight when Brooke, with LOVE in her eyes asked Melissa, ” Can I hug you?! You need to know I never thought it was possible to have a sister again. After Samantha died, I knew there simply wasn’t a way for that to happen! She was gone and that was that! So, to stand here before you is truly a miracle and I am grateful for that!”

Melissa stood in response and received what Brooke offered; love, acceptance, an abundance of life and a future more blessed than imagined! Melissa, in return, shared how much she longed for and would cherish a relationship with her younger sister.

Oh, the embrace was beautiful between the two!!  The tears started all over again in streams thicker and swifter than before. I was once again the privileged one that sat in the corner seat of the booth and witnessed the immediate connection and affection between the two.

At this point, no matter what I thought, there was no turning back for these two! They were ready to fall in love and to do life.

To acknowledge my unreadiness, I told the girls, “I see for myself what is already at work between you two. I can’t stop it, nor do I want to. But, I am not there yet. I have some work to do with and on myself. Before I can dive in and do life with you guys I need to be the healthiest version of myself.” Both nodded in agreement. They understood I needed time to deal with other issues because I was coming at this from a different angle. Oh, the joy and eagerness where there, but there was no denying that I needed to deal with the voices of destruction that danced in my head.

By now the three of us were emotionally haggared! The ups and downs and emotional upheaval of the morning had taken its toll. We knew it was time say good-bye, so Melissa could return to her family and Brooke and I could reconnect with David. We certainly had a lot to share.

Before we left, Brooke and I were refueled when Melissa extended her hands across the table and offered each of us a Christmas gift – a hand painted cross on a beautifully painted canvas. Oh, how I knew we were being saturated with the Spirit. Then, to close our sacred time together, Melissa asked to pray. My heart melted into her request as the three of us clenched hands together and acknowledge The Heavenly One that had ordained, orchestrated, presided over and protected us and all those involved as we tiptoed through tender ground.

By now our coffee cups were dry, along with our eyes. We were in better shape emotionally and spiritually after asking Jesus to cover our next steps and acknowledging our trust in His providence. Brooke and Melissa agreed they would see each other again. I simply smiled on the inside and outside but knew I wouldn’t be joining them right away. And, we were all OK with that.

Instead, I knew my time needed to be spent with my Savior, so eventually I could receive in full the gift God gave to me during that special Christmas Coffee!


tom family
Sammy, Melissa, Katherine, Samuel and Madalyn Tom





11 Months Later

Believing in Beautiful … was written 11 months ago. What in the world have I been doing since then? Why no writing? Have I no words?


The truth is, I took a self-imposed sabbatical from justdotoday, citing personal reasons. I needed space to breath and be still, to seek God’s will and to hear his whispers, to respond to new ways with love and then always allow redemption to lead the way.

Simply put, my world, other’s worlds needed to settle and to solidify and our souls needed time to spend with each other before I exposed one of the greatest love stories in my life.

Love as exquisite as it is, takes time to grow and to become the bond that cements relationships. I knew better than to charge through this season of relationship building like the Bull Run we see in Spain. To treat this next life chapter as a set of mechanics would have been a sin.

Instead, the Holy Spirit guided me to stay sensitive, to let the pace and rhythm of my life and all those involved to work its way out, and to move through this unprecedented time period with ease, but with acute awareness.  Truly, we were and are traveling through Holy Ground and He let me know, time was His gift, allowing everyone to settle down, to settle in and then to see and experience the fruits of His love. He let me know there was a lot of living left to do. Therefore, rushing and pushing through with my own agenda or allowing anyone else to establish their preferred course of action simply wasn’t going to work.

That isn’t to say, I haven’t been lovingly harassed and chided for the last 330 days!! “Mom, you need to write a blog!”, Brooke tried to enforce. Her excitement always propelling her to push. “Elizabeth, what about justdotoday and your book?” David prodded on a weekly basis. His reasoning was to get back to the business of writing and ultimately finishing my publishing project. I understood and loved their ways and reasons to move everything forward at a faster pace.

Yes. I heard them. Yet. I knew not to listen. Instead, I intentionally instituted selective hearing when they spoke.

Why? Well, simply put, I wasn’t taking my direction from them. What they didn’t realize was nothing they could say or do would have swayed me to tell the story, until I knew it was time. Their constant attempts at persuasion were love punches, I know. However, this isn’t their story to write.

This is God’s story and watching for His ques and listening for His whispers was and is where my inspiration swells from.

Over time and in person, the story has been told to others in safe settings and with trusted souls. I have shared it myself. As well, I have been a bystander when someone else is revealing the blessing bestowed upon our family. Each time, the orator and it’s audience reap God’s riches! Teary eyes and tender hugs are the genuine responses “we” receive when we share. Whether it be Brooke, David, Melissa, myself or even an extended family member telling a friend, when people hear, they are happy. Happy for her, happy for us, happy for everybody!!!!

This week a Facebook post where David and I were referred to as “Grands” moved God’s story beyond the sacred circle of family and close friends. Oh, what a beautiful year and a half it has been; creating new memories, laughing and smiling ALOT, loving in new ways and being busier than before! It is all so good. Yet, I’m grateful for the more private space we carved out for ourselves, giving our family time and space to grow and be united as ONE before opening up to the world.

However, as I showered on Monday morning, I processed the FB post that was shared and the responses from people it elicited.

text 1             text 2

“Grand role? What did I miss?” a friend wrote seeking explanation. Like often before, my thoughts traveled to, “Oh my, I wonder what they will think, when they know?” I have no reason or past actions to make me think someone will have an adverse reaction. However, inevitably that thought snakes itself into my thinking and creates unnecessary havoc! (Satan get under my feet!!!)

But, no doubt, during this 18-month journey, that question has caused anxiety and fear to run rabid inside of me. Shame would try to steal the show and shut down any light being shed on love. But, by the grace and goodness of God, this particular cleansing on this particular Monday morning had a different outcome.

Instead, of feeling embarrassed of my past, where I wanted to scrub the past sin off my skin. I was ecstatic and alive and free to share my future. Goose bumps traveled up my spine and caused my scalp to tingle and my heart raced with excitement!! Combine that with the new expensive shampoo I have been sampling, I didn’t want to get out of the shower!!! Honestly, I was held by the heavenly massage my mind and body were receiving. But, my soul was experienceing a Go Tell It On The Mountain kinda moment!!!

Indeed, this was the kind of holy harassing I have been waiting and watching for!!!!! It is this internal signal of readiness, the knowledge that happens on the inside, not suggestions from an outer source, but instead a confirmation from within that has signaled me to open up!

Yes, the time has come to share! I’m ready, we are ready, I believe so many involved are in a healthy place making them ready . But, most importantly, it is God that said, “Go!, Be excited and share my love with all!”

“Yes”, friend, you did miss something!!!! But, it wasn’t your fault because I held it a secret, in a sacred, holy kind of way, on purpose. I simply cherished keeping it all close to my heart as we allowed love to seal the deal!!!

BUT, this gift, in Melissa Gray Tom, is so unbelievably astounding you and everybody else need to know!  She is simply lovely; a beautiful woman, with a compassionate heart for Christ and raising an incredible family (Katherine, Madelyn (twin 7 year old girls and a 4 year old son, Samuel) alongisde her husband, Sammy Tom.

And to think, she is part MINE!! (Of course, I know I have to share her with others; there are many many others that love this beautiful lady BIG! 🙂 )

So here it is – I’m incredibly blessed to share that in December 2016, I was lovingly reunited with the daughter I placed for adoption 35 years ago. For the past 18 months we have been opening up our hearts to one another and learning to do life together!!! David and Brooke are totally in love too and because of that our family has doubled and then some in size !

Me and Melissa
March 2017

Rest with that for awhile, I know it is a doozy. But undoubtedly, stay tuned. Over the next few months, I will be sharing God’s story of redemption and hope in a series of blogs capturing our journey thus far!

Next Month – A Christmas Coffee

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father,

We are so grateful for your promises of redemption. Thank you for loving me enough to forgive me of my sin and the in return, instead of punishment, you bless me ten-fold. It is through you we can do hard things and conquer situations that could hurt. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit that lives inside each of us, so that we can better walk in your ways – ways that lead to healing and love and light. We offer praise and thanksgiving to you, Lord,

In your precious names, Jesus we pray these things.


Go Grace!

This is such a great reason to get back online. When you see a young woman stepping out in faith an answering God’s call on her life it is simply to incredible not to share!

At present Grace Valentine is a college student at Baylor University and an active blogger ( Grace Valentine – ENOUGH ). I am sure she is involved in many other activities, but in my mind those two things put together, constitute a full-time commitment.

However, about a year and a half ago Grace contacted me and asked for an interview.

“WHAT?”, I replied! My reaction was of surprise because, I simply had no idea what she was up to! Through excited phrases and short explanatory sentences, Grace revealed she was writing a book! “WHAT,” I replied again! “Aren’t you busy writing papers for professors,” I jokingly but impressively added.

Grace was quick to acknowledge her craziness, but she was more adamant about capturing her commitment and love of Christ. She went on to testify to me that she felt called to record in writing her young adult life and how the world attempts to tell females her age they aren’t enough. Obviously, Grace has a different message to share!

Grace was reaching out to me because of her friendship with Samantha. She and Sam were in St. Timothy Youth Group together and became fast friends. Grace was close to Samantha at the time of her death and Grace’s spiritual journey was affected by the loss.

Grace and I have had many conversations since Samantha’s accident. As well, we have traveled the to the village of Kui, Kenya together and shared in times of worship. Our space to communicate was open and honest. We knew each other well and trusted in our relationship because of Jesus.

So, Grace asked questions and I answered; she inquired about my faith and I tried to be forthright about what I believed, she examined my experience and I did my best to share the circumstances, she interrogated about the accident and I revealed what happened and she gave me the third degree about what helped and I let her know it was God that brought the healing.

Another year later, Grace Valentine is a published author, at the dynamic age of 21. (Grace you look great in pink!)

3202018 Grace Valentine.PNG

Her book, Am I Enough?: Embracing the Truth About Who You Are, will be sitting on bookshelves by mid-July.

Grace has an incredible message to share with women about our self-worth. It is one rooted in Christ’s love for us NOT what the world tells us we are worth.

I encourage you to join Grace on her journey!!! You can pre-order her book now on Amazon:

P.S. – Samantha in her sassy ways would be so excited to know a bit of her story is shared in Chapter 21.

As always, I invite you to subscribe to Just Do Today!


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Sharing Message that Speak to Us …

I love it when a friend shares something with me that speaks to her. I always think, “If that is the case, how many others would the message resonated with.”
Take a minute and be blessed, as I was, by reading through Lisa Terkeurst’s message about how to live a life that doesn’t betray our best intentions.

Great Sermons Aren’t Preached, They’re Lived
Lysa TerKeurstJune 8, 2017

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

– See more at: http://proverbs31.org/…/great-sermons-arent-preached-they…/…



Lisa Terkeurst

Believing in Beautiful …

“Mom, what does God tell you about all this?”, Brooke asked as she scanned the shelves of the refrigerator. It looked as though Brooke was searching for something to eat, whenrefrigerator asking this fateful question, But, deep inside I knew she was seeking so much more.

When life takes a sudden shift, the new set of circumstances creates a myriad of unanswered questions. Brooke was searching for solid ground. She was attempting to create a feeling of security by collecting information and threading together the knowledge she would gain. Then, I knew, because it is human tendency, she would go on to mentally map out potential outcomes, to create scenarios that sounded good and to carve out a story she created.

Standing on the other side of the kitchen counter, I longed to paint the easiest picture for her; one where everything goes just right and everyone involved is immediately  excited. Her heart has been broken before, I find myself wanting to knee-jerk to protect her from any more.

However, I simply didn’t have the authority to do that. I didn’t have any facts to share. Nor, was there a road map to refer to. Yes, this next God appointed adventure guaranteed a tremendous amount of uncertainty.

Even though it wasn’t voiced, I think Brooke subconsciously knew this. She knew I couldn’t predict the future. Nor, how it would unfold. Hence, in her wisdom and quest for something solid she aimed her question towards my Savior and the counsel He might offer.

Immediately, I was grateful she knew I would seek God’s advice.  And, be interested in what He had to say. She acknowledged and honored the relationship I had with Him.

And, that is when I knew I was time to share what had settled in my heart. For days, I had rumbled with how God wanted me to respond to this new  unexpected blessing. Trust me, as beautiful and unbelievable as it is, it held the power to shake the trusted ties that united our weathered family.

Rounding the edge of the counter, I walked towards Brooke and stopped in front of the stove. By now, her perusal for food had ended and she turned toward me with her full attention.

I paused before I answered. Not because I didn’t have an answer. God had already given me His sense of response before Brooke ever inquired about our inner conversations. Instead, I took a second before responding so the air would settle and my words could be heard.

Surmising the fore coming series of events and the twisting and turning it would take to assimilate and comprehend this new chapter of life was impossible. But better than giving Brooke a sense of security by speculating on earthly events, I affirmed Who I would follow.  Therefore, laying a solid foundation for all things going forward.

“Brooke, God has made it very clear to me that all of this can stay very uncomplicated if I, we simply love. That is all there is too it, simply love.”, I explained.

We continued our conversation of Christ’s instructions. I chose my words carefully to get Brooke to accept the truth that God doesn’t want us to search for answers, to predict actions nor to find security in knowing the outcome before it happens.

Instead, He asks us to move forward in faith. To be OK with not knowing everything. And, to trust that as we make room for the Holy Spirit to move , everything falls into place.

Watching with spiritual eyes, I was acutely aware of the interchange unfolding and was totally consumed with sharing the wisdom …

Control does not guarantee comfort. Instead, it is the power of Jesus that brings peace!

Brooke seemed satisfied with my reply, that the message  left for us in 1 Corinthians 13:13:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” would see us through.

With ease, she twisted toward the simmering pan and started to rhythmically stir.  Inches apart, we stood still, both feeling the security of God’s sovereignty. But, the goodness didn’t end there because I had more to share.

“Brooke, there is something else I sense.” I said, recapturing her attention. With the wooden spoon in her hand, she turned and readied herself to receive.

Feeding her soul, I shared “The spirit inside of me says, don’t flinch and have absolutely no fear!”  I expounded on God’s guidance wanting Brooke to understand that as we stepped into this next leg of life it was important for me, for her for all of us to cast off any thought that might prevent us from fully embracing the fullness of what was yet to be.

Holding back because something might go wrong was not going to work.

Brooke relaxed into the words, her shoulders inched down and the edges of her lips inched up. She understood that if we allowed love and the Spirit of Christ to set our course, that bumpy it might be.

But because of Jesus we could believe in beautiful!


Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.



Believe in beautiful


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Traveling Mercies – Janet Hines

As school ends and summer approaches time spent for so many shifts. Sp whether it is a vacation or a staycation that comes next … take a minute and see what Janet Hines has to say about how we interact with the world around us. Thank you Janet for haring your inspiring message with us today.

Janet Hines – Traveling Mercies

Flowers in the field
Flowers in a field in the small town of Alora in the south of Spain

I am passionate about traveling this big world. Everyday is filled with sights, sounds, tastes and flavors I have never experienced before. It is a thrill to me. Taking pictures, conversations with random strangers – language not creating barriers – smiles – sign language – pointing – all fill my heart with the sense of adventure God planted in me when He created me.

Yet, the older I get, the more I realize my everyday world is full of these same wonders. It just depends on how I look at it. What has my attention? Do I become so habitual in my days that I forget to look for the adventure? Do I forget to look for things I have never seen before?

This is just a simple blog post inviting you to join me in looking at the world around us a little differently today. When people speak, listen in a different way. When we greet someone, let’s pause intentionally a moment longer to look at them and see if they need to really tell us. Maybe a hug is in order. Maybe not.

Let that person who made their way through the construction barricades without merging and now wanting to merge when there is no space left {this is a personal battle for me living where I do} – let them in without making a comment Janet – just. let. them. in.

Choose to make the world a teeny tiny bit better in our wake today. There are way too many things we are not in control of but God gave us each the free will to choose how we interact and react to the world in our breathing space every day.

Let’s make a difference today. Let’s be bold – maybe someone will notice – maybe no one will – but in our hearts when we lay down in bed tonight, we will have a peace about the moments we remember and how we saw something new – even without leaving the parish today.

  But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, 

what God is looking for in men and women.

It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,

be compassionate and loyal in your love, 

And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

 Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Mic 6:8). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

“Lord, we pray to You to give us the courage to interact in positive ways today to whatever situations the world throws at us. We believe You, Lord, when You promise us You will give us everything we need to see You up close and the courage to allow You access to the deep places in us that need the most work. We want to be closer to You, Lord. Give us an awareness of what creates barriers in our relationship with You and help us move through this world seeing You in new ways today. Amen”


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A Box of Miracles in my Backyard

As Easter Sunday approaches, I find myself contemplating the Cross and Christ’s Resurrection.

Everywhere I go, walking, running errands or even alone my thoughts continue to wrap around this Gospel message of hope and eternal healing, of rebirth and renewal, and of celebration and miraculous occurrences. It has been kinda of a constant cerebral conversation.

I work to replay the events of Holy Week in my mind. Then, I try to understand the emotions attached to the events. I ask myself, “What did the people witness and how did they respond?”

Of course, each mini-series evokes a unique set of feelings, stretching from humility to horror and then onto heartbroken. As Jesus moves through the acts of the Easter story, the setting shifts as well.

Like Jesus, in my own pressed state I have spent time in the garden. Gardens have always served as an inspiring backdrop in the Bible. After all, God first planted humanity in a garden in Eden. And the most redemptive act in history began in a garden in Gethsemane. And the story ends in Revelation with the image of the garden taking over the City of God.

Like Jesus, my garden served me during my own season of sorrow.  “Elizabeth, anything to do with nature is healing and good for the soul” I was told.  In response, I grabbed a hoe and hoped for the best. Certainly, tears were shed, as I shoveled the dry soil.  However, there was a healing component to digging in and getting dirty.

Today, my garden continues to serve me. However, it is in a new way! Rather than seeking the comfort the warmth of the earth has to offer, I sing in celebration about what has sprouted!!! As well, the overwhelming growth and the abundance of fruit that is growing in the box of miracles in my backyard!!!

It’s magical to pull a carrot out of the ground and exciting to see a ruby red strawberry gracefully hang from its thin green stem. The zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower buds are poised to break open and the eggplants are lush and tinted lavender. The carrots are ready and the tomatoes are ripening.  Yes, my vegetables plants are poised to have a party.


strawberries carrot


And, my friends, so are we. As we approach the Celebration of Resurrection,  we as believing Christians know the glory that is coming!!!

Remember, we are a resurrection people!

We celebrate this belief in unity on Easter!

Together, we affirm the miracle of Jesus rising from the dead and ascending into Heaven, Together, we acknowledge the triumph of light over dark and as the body of Christ give thanks for the gift of eternal life.  Easter is the anniversary, the yearly commemoration of all these things.

However, the little box of miracles in my backyard reminds me resurrection happens everyday.  That seeds planted and buried deep in the dirt, because of a miracle, can grow into a maturing plant with an abundance of  fruit.

Jesus’ miracles of renewal and regeneration are evident and alive in the world around us. His power loves people to life and His message brings beauty out of our brokenness.

So today and everyday, I celebrate the miracle of Resurrection and what it represents!!



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What Finally Worked …

ekg-2069872_1280For weeks, I felt pressure and pain, The good news is the stacks of self-help books, the many trips to the therapist and lots of alone time were all doing their part to help ease my panicked and pressed state-of-self.

Long ago, I learned and experienced how important the healing power of healthy support can be. Each type of assistance strengthens and sustains a unique need. For me, the reading helped to remind me I wasn’t alone. As well, because others took the time to share their knowledge and record their past experiences, I was blessed with wisdom and what techniques worked. Visiting my therapist offered the opportunity to have an objective conversation, free of judgement, therefore, facilitating the customization of coping strategies.

Ahhhh, and the alone time allowed me to soak in the strengthening messages, the saving grace and powerful promises of my Savior. By reading the many passages that I have earmarked in Samantha’s Bible, then giving myself space and time to ponder their meaning and then apply them to my current personal situation was once again a game changer.

Over time, I began to feel better and I began to understand myself more. There are psychological shifts that need to take place in order to work through shame. I was learning how to talk to myself, how to perceive myself with compassion rather than criticism. and how to own my story so that I could write a new ending. Thankfully and as I was counseled, the emotional and psychological work was helping to change my self-characterization and how I saw my past circumstances. I was in tune and keenly aware as the embarrassment melted away and I began to embrace what was to come.

Honestly, the process was powerful! However, it wasn’t perfect!

Like a nagging hangnail that snags on all types of surfaces, I often reverted back to my old way of thinking, “Elizabeth, you should be ashamed! Elizabeth, this is awful and needs to stay a secret!”

When I heard the degrading message, I would go back to work to mentally distinguish it!

Eventually, I got fed up and I grew tired of fighting!

So much energy in the last few years of my life, has been spent on working to be well, to come back to life after loss, to caste off the mental strongholds that have the power to sink me.

Quickly, I grew weary of living this way again.

“Enough of this!” I ssshhhed myself.  “Why do you think you can do this on your own?” I asked myself. Caught off guard at my own question, I paused and paid attention for an answer. And, that is when I remembered a woman, who had ultimately handled her issue in another way.

However her circumstances differed didn’t matter, it was her solution that I knew to seek.

So, I did.

That evening, I hurried off to my Heated Power Vinyasa Yoga class. As the sweat dripped down my cheeks and trickled into my inner ear, I knew the workout was about to end. “Thank goodness!” I thought. Yes, I was grateful the twisting and turning was about to stop. But, more importantly, I was ready to pray!

In a whisper I heard, “Ladies, find your Savasana.”  I gladly obeyed and lowered down, flat on my back and relaxed my arms and legs. Spreading the cold towel soaked in essentials oils over my blotchy red face and closing my eyes brought a sense of stillness. I allowed a few seconds to lose myself and let go. And then, like I love to do while recovering from a especially challenging yoga class, I prayed

Father, hem 2

I ask for one special moment with you. I know that is all it will take. Just like the woman who touched the hem of your garment and was healed, I am asking for the same miracle for myself. Please rub away this last little bit of stain from shame deep in my soul. Please do for me what I can’t do for myself, so that I am free to carry out your work. 

Repeating my prayer over and over, adding a few words here and there, I only stopped when the teacher instructed, “Now, wiggle your toes and wrap your wrists. bring your awareness back to the room and when you are ready come back to a seated position.”

Rising to my feet at the end of class, I did a double take, a body and mind scan so to speak. Unfortunately, nothing seemed different. I was momentarily disappointment, but lacked the energy to do anything about it. So, I directed my exhausted body home and on to bed.

The gift arrived the next morning as I woke up and got out of bed. I smiled, I thought of my situation and said to myself, “I can do this. I can get through this and go on. And, better than that I can now be content and peaceful about it!”

For the first time in 35 years, I could think about a certain “something” and know everything was going to be OK. I wasn’t aware of the specifics, but I sensed however things played out they would be positive and for God’s purpose. I don’t know exactly what happened, but gone was the doom and gloom. The freedom was immediate and overwhelming.  So much that, for the first time in my life I stepped away from my shame and voluntarily shared my story.

Scheduled to attend, yet another exercise session, I headed back to the health club, skipped up the front stairs, swung the door open and said, “Travis, I have something to share.” It helps when your pastor greets you at the gym and what a relief it was to break free from the burden I had been carrying for so many years.

One day, when the time is right, I will write about my “something”, but for now I know it is the process that is important. As I take each step towards towards the full story, leaning into restoration, I know it is right to record the entire journey and to give God the glory for what is going on!

 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Matthew 9:20-22 (KJV)

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Romans 8:38:39 (The Message)

You see, there is thing about faith, it works!

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