Summer’s Best Read

Untitled design (5)Looking for a good read this summer? Granted, this is not your typical beach book (no bodices get ripped, there are no steely-eyed men, and I’m pretty sure nothing gets hijacked or explodes), but The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life is a classic and, if you’ve not yet explored it, put it on your list.

Hannah Whitall Smith wrote the book in 1883. I own the new (1888) edition, which Smith begins by saying that what she has to say is “no new story.” Indeed. It isn’t new, but every chapter feels fresh because it is so chock-full of practical stuff for making the Christian life one that is both enjoyable and do-able, no matter how many curve balls come our way.

Here’s a sample:

Most Christians are like a man who was toiling along the road, bending under a heavy burden, when a wagon overtook him, and the driver kindly offered to help him on his journey. He joyfully accepted the offer but when seated in the wagon, continued to bend beneath his burden, which he still kept on his shoulders. “Why do you not lay down your burden?” asked the kind-hearted driver. “Oh!” replied the man, “I feel that it is almost too much to ask you to carry me, and I could not think of letting you carry my burden too.” 

Yeah. I get that. I say I trust God to take care of me, but I don’t really give him my burdens – at least not all the way. Or if I do, I take them back, thinking that I somehow have to “handle” my stuff. And so I go through a lot of life like some poor, unfortunate soul, “weary and heavy laden” under a load of inner worries (weaknesses, temptations, feelings) and external concerns (my kids, my house, my health, my reputation, my ministry, my job, my hair…you get the idea).

Smith tells the story of a friend who had a very heavy burden: The circumstances of her life she could not alter, but she took them to the Lord, and handed them over to His management; and then she believed He took it, and she left all the responsibility and the worry and anxiety to Him. As often as the anxieties returned, she took them back; and the result was, that, although the circumstances remained unchanged, her soul was kept in perfect peace in the midst of them. She felt that she had found out a practical secret; and from that time she sought never to carry her own burdens, nor to manage her own affairs, but to hand them over, as fast as they arose, to the Divine Burden-bearer.

I thought that sounded pretty good. But I wasn’t sure how, practically, to do that. I mean, it’s not like my anxiety or my to-do list is a sack of potatoes that I can just leave on God’s doorstep. I mulled that one over for awhile, and then kept reading.

Do you recollect the delicious sense of rest with which you have sometimes gone to bed at night, after a day of great exertion and weariness? How delightful was the sensation of relaxing every muscle…You trusted yourself to the bed in an absolute confidence, and it held you up, without effort, or strain, or even thought on your part. You rested!

Okay, so here comes the slightly awkward part. Because she had me at “bed.”

I am one of those people (and I truly hope there are others) who literally climbs under the covers at night and says, “Thank you, God, for my bed.” Seriously. I really like my bed, and I am really grateful for it. And so, most nights, I tell God that. (I am sure that Robbie thinks I am crazy, and that God already knows I like my bed cuz I just told him that last night. But sometimes you just can’t be too grateful.)

Anyhow, I thought about what it feels like to just relax at night, and I decided that when I go to bed tonight, if there is any burden I am carrying over from the day, I am going to give it to God. I am going to picture it transferred, like a sack of potatoes, into God’s capable hands. And I am going to go to sleep. (I figure this is an extra-good plan to try at night, since the Bible says that God “will neither slumber nor sleep,” so even a vigilante/controlling mama like me can rest easy, knowing that Somebody is on the job.)

And then, if I wake up tomorrow and find my burden waiting like one of the dogs, I am going to do just what Hannah Whitall Smith’s pal did. I am going to hand it over to God again.

I don’t know if this experiment will help you, but feel free to try it with me. Or, just skip the whole bed thing and simply believe what Smith says is part of the secret:

“Your part is simply to rest. His part is to sustain you; and He cannot fail.”

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A Prayer for the Graduate


Virginia graduates tomorrow (from Virginia, the school for which, yes, she was actually named). I’m not sure what the future holds for my girl or any of her friends, but I am praying Joshua 1:9 over their lives today, and I invite you to join me in praying it for someone you love:

Heavenly Father,

May _____ live according to your command:  May she be strong and courageous. Don’t let her grow fearful or discouraged; rather, let her rest secure in your promise to be with her, wherever she goes. (Joshua 1:9)

Joshua 1-9


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The Month of May-hem

Psalm 23-2-3 (2)It’s May.

Exams. Class parties. Athletic tournaments. Graduations. Weddings. Mother’s Day. Packing up a year’s worth of college (and dragging it all back home)…

And that’s just the first part of the month. There’s a reason we call it May-hem.

If you’re like me, you may need a deep breath, and the reminder that God offers peace in the midst of the chaos. I’m praying a couple of verses from Psalm 23 this week, and I invite you to make them your own Friday Prayer:

Heavenly Father,

Lead me beside quiet waters, today. Restore my soul. (Psalm 23:2-3)


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A Prayer for Mother’s Day

3 John 4“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

That little line is one of my favorite sentences in the entire Bible. It’s from a letter that John wrote as he was nearing the end of his life. He was talking about his spiritual children (the folks he’d invested his life in, the ones who had chosen to accept and live out the gospel message), but whenever I read this verse, I can’t help but think about my own kids.

I’ve heard a lot of things about my children over the years – some good, some not so good – but nothing warms my mama’s heart more than to find out that that one of them has said or done something that shows that they are living for God and walking in the light of his love. Truly, there is no greater joy.

So that’s my prayer for all of us mamas (fathers, too!) this Mother’s Day. As we love our children (our actual kids, as well as the people we’ve poured ourselves into and influenced over the years), may God be gracious to us by drawing these precious ones into his truth. May they take delight in his word and be eager to put it into practice in their daily lives. May the Holy Spirit speak God’s truth into our children’s hearts, making them wise, compassionate, honest, loving, and free.

May we have no greater joy than to hear that our children are walking in the truth. (3 John 4)

Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Love Blanket

After reading my Garden Tour post last week, a friend texted to say she was sorry she’d missed it – except that maybe it was just as well, since looking at other people’s potted ferns and five-burner cooktops can just make you jealous. I get that. I came away from the tour with more than a couple of new items on my covet list, starting with a machine that makes crushed ice.

Like they have at Sonic.

Only in your house.

(How am I supposed to be content in all circumstances, now that I know those things are out there?)

Anyhow, the tour hostesses could not have been more gracious, but they did not offer to open any closets. Which was a good thing for me, since there is probably nothing that fuels my admiration (or envy) more powerfully than the sight of someone else’s storage skills. Especially when it comes to linens. I love the promise of crisp white sheets, freshly folded towels, and blankets that still have their bindings. My neighbor Molly has a linen closet that would make Yves Delorme drool. (I saw it, once. And ever since I have been wondering if there is a polite way to ask a person, when you go to their house, if you can maybe just take a nap.)

My linen closet does not look like Molly’s. My linen closet looks like this:


Ugh. I don’t know why I’ve kept half this stuff. Like, what houseguest would seriously want to dry off with the 30-year-old monogrammed towels that Robbie and I got for a wedding present? And who on earth (except maybe my pal Colleen) is ever going to want that “designer edition” camouflage Snuggie? I mean. Everything in here got rejected by my college kids. That right there tells you something.

Honestly, it’s embarrassing. And I wouldn’t even show you this picture (I wouldn’t even open the closet) except for something I read this week, something that just cried out for a photo of blankets. Here it is:

Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love. (Ephesians 1:4, TLB)

Oh my gosh. Do you see what God did there? He didn’t tell us to “straighten up” or “get it together” before we could come in and say hi. Instead, he took the initiative. He wanted to make us holy, and so he took all our faults, pushed them together, and covered the whole pile with his love.

What this verse means is that when God looks at me, he doesn’t see a gal with threadbare guest towels who can’t keep her closets straight. He doesn’t see me coveting my neighbor’s crushed ice. He doesn’t once look at me and say, “Oh gosh, what a mess. (Did I make that?)”

Instead, thanks to what Christ did, all God sees is love. His love. I’m covered in it!

And so are you.

And here’s the thing. I would love for my linen closets to look like the ones you see on Pinterest. I’d like for my life to look that way, too. But that’s not gonna happen. I know, because I’ve spent more years than I care to admit trying to whip myself into shape. I might get things to look presentable for a day or two, but it doesn’t last. Sooner or later, the Snuggie in me starts to fall out.

If you’re like me and you’ve realized (again) that you don’t have what it takes to succeed, spiritually (or, if you’re one of those rare people who thinks that maybe you do), hit the pause button. Because nothing we could ever do (or not do) will render us holy. Nothing we could ever say (or not say) will make us faultless. All of that stuff is up to God, and he’s already done it.

So let’s not spend another minute worrying about the linen closets of our lives. Instead, let’s snuggle up in the blanket that is God’s love, and rejoice in the fact that he has us covered.








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