Day 18: Beautiful No-no’s

Hello there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m now halfway through! Woop woop!  I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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Last night, I won a Rock, Paper, Scissors match with the Hubs. And I think that was the first time I’d won in our six and a quarter years of marriage. It was an epic big deal… here’s why.

At bedtime last night, the boys were not particularly rowdy–they were just the same sort of rowdy they’d been the entire day. (Not sure why — maybe because after days and days of clouds the sun was finally shining?) Anyway, I have yet to figure out how, but somehow at teeth-brushing time, when I left the Tank after I’d finished brushing his teeth, while the Bear was still brushing his, I stepped out of the bathroom for a moment with the Belle.

During that moment, the Tank somehow got hold of the travel-size kid toothpaste I’d already told him he could not have and placed in the back of the cupboard and began to eat it. The Bear ran into the room with the grave announcement… “Blakey is eating TOOTHPASTE!!!” and handed me the offending toothpaste.

A few moments later, the mischief (as his Gammy in South Africa aptly calls him) toddled in and handed over the toothpaste’s cap.

We sighed and scolded, and put the boys to bed, and I started the ginormous task of getting the day’s dishes clean and starting a load of laundry.

I need to pause here to explain a different part of this story so that it will all be nicely connected for you.

Ever since we moved, I’ve looked at the den-area and thought this room really needs a rug. For the sake of the baby, to warm up the space and make it feel like home and comfortable in the evenings, it would just be really nice to find THE rug for this space. But I haven’t bought one yet. I found some I really liked at fairly good prices, but didn’t have a peace about buying one, and decided to set it aside and look more later.

The room is currently rugless, which is not an awful thing, not at all. It just is what it is.

So. I’m in the throes of preparing to climb Dish Mountain, when I hear the door to the boys’ room crack open. Through the open plan kitchen-to-rugless-den, I look down the passageway toward their room and see the Tank quietly toddle out, confused, looking down the hall toward our bedroom, and then looking my way and spotting me in the kitchen.

He turns to head toward me, slowly moving into the rugless den, there it is — his dinner all over the floor.

At first, I’m just shocked he has emptied his tummy onto the floor, and busy scrambling, as I call for HH, to think of what to do next. We whisk him to the bathroom, get him some water, wipe off the parts of him the need wiping, strip off the clothes — they definitely needed stripping — and a few moments later, he is his usual, cheeky, smiley self.

After we settle him back to bed, we ponder what could’ve caused it — tacos are a usual event on our menu, nothing out of the ordinary on the menu all day, no other signs of sickness at all. Then HH quickly arrives at the conclusion:

The Toothpaste.


{Hard not to love this little guy.}

It was a little later in the evening when the thought occurred to me to thank the Lord that I hadn’t bought a rug yet. I would have been SO disappointed if he’d puked on a new rug — would it have even come clean?

The principle behind this long story is a simple one, and these verses sum it up really well:

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; 
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance. {Psalm 16:5-6}

There are times when things aren’t going the way we hope they will, or when we clearly hear a “NO” when we’re hoping for a yes. And sometimes it’s frustrating. Other times it can be devastating.

We put boundaries around our own children with No-no’s. From a very early age, we hedge them about with things they are not allowed to touch or do, and as they grow older, we choose more and different no’s for their boundaries: No playing in the street. No biting your brother. No drawing on the walls.

Sometimes the No’s are personal preferences, but very often, they are for the child’s benefit. His protection, his character development, his interpersonal skill development, his education.

No’s often lead to a better yes — and we sometimes have that yes in mind when we’re issuing the no. You can’t watch TV right now but you can build something with blocks, which is much better for you anyway.

If we are the children of an amazing Heavenly Father, then we can be sure, He, even more than you or I, is thinking clearly about what questions are answered with “No” and which ones are “Yes.”

When we shift our focus from the primary desire of gathering up stuff to make a comfortable life to “Your name and your renown are the desires of our hearts” we will naturally arrive at a place of trust.

Isaiah said:

But for those who are righteous,
the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right, 
and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
our heart’s desire is to glorify your name. {Is. 26:7&8}

It takes trust to obey God, it takes trust to put a smile on your dial when you hoped for a yes and got a know. I never could’ve known that my rug would’ve been puked on when I was busy perusing the offerings at But the Lord set a boundary line for me — and in His glorious goodness, I think that might’ve been part of the reason He did so.

Yesterday, we spoke about contentment — and this is where contentment becomes realest real. Your financial situation, your health, the amount of furniture in your living room — if you are living in obedience to God, you can trust His hand is creating boundaries for you.

Sometimes, they are boundaries He’d like you to accept for the time being. {Don’t buy that rug yet.} Sometimes, they’re boundaries He has created with the attention of calling you to rise to the challenge. If your marriage is on a rocky road, the Lord may want you and your spouse to seek some counseling or have some serious heart-to-heart time to find out what is at the root of all the strife between you, and to begin changing the way you interact with one another for the better. He may be calling you to fight for one another in a world that’s fighting to pull marriages apart.

How will you know what to do with those boundaries? Spend time in His Word and listen for His voice. His sheep know His voice, because they spend their days with the shepherd.

His glorious goodness speaks a good yes and a good no — and you can trust His greater plan is at work in both of them.

And about that Rock, Paper, Scissors match? In His glorious goodness, the Lord let me win this one, and my precious, wonderful, handsome and amazing Hero Hubs had toothpaste-incident-related-clean-up-duty.

Bless the Lord for another boundary falling in a pleasant place. {Mark, I love you.}


Day 16: Work Worth Waiting For

Hi there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m now halfway through! Ka-chow! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you, he cries out, “Destroy them!” {Deut. 33:27}

We received some unpleasant news from family far away this morning. It created fear for the Hubs and for me, and I was left sitting on the couch, trying to think of something to write about, after bringing that fear to the Lord and asking for His deliverance.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles. {Ps. 34:4-6}

The truth is, when something is heavy on your heart, you don’t always experience immediate relief. It’s not clear from these verses whether David (the writer of this Psalm) experienced immediate relief from his fears or whether, over time, he continuously sought the Lord and his deliverance was a gradual process.

In an age of speed and convenience, we who pace in front of microwaves are usually looking for a short work to be made of just about anything, otherwise we might tend to feel as if it’s not going to work at all.

But the encouragement from that first Scripture mentioned above, and from many others, it to make God our refuge. Even though He is a person, His presence is the place He wants you to run to.

Leaving Doubtful Behind

We’re encouraged to Look to the Lord, and His strength, seek His face always. {Ps. 105:4} So whatever it is that we are walking through, we are invited to turn our the gaze of our souls toward His presence. Any time, any where.

Right now, our home is a work in progress. We moved a few months ago, and after one big moving day, we gradually, over several weeks, brought the remaining things we needed to move from the old house to the new one. There are still boxes that need to be unpacked and things that need to find a home in our new home.

Living in this sort of limbo, in the process with so many things still undone, is uncomfortable. I think most people like for things to be done with and be over rather than having to work through a process over time.

God doesn’t leave us stuck in the middle of a process when we seek His presence, but, often, neither does He immediately pull us right out of it:

“Oh, this is hard and you don’t like it? Well I’ll wave my heavenly wand and it’ll be done!”

Whether we’re endeavoring to lead a healthier lifestyle or turn a house into a home, the progress is going to be a process and the process is going to take time.

Sometimes, when we can’t see the progress immediately, we become discouraged and think nothing is happening. But you can trust that the Lord is at work, and things are changing behind the scenes, things are being positioned for the best to become possible.

Our job is to trust, to pray, and to continuously make the Lord our refuge, through each and every challenge that we face. In His glorious goodness, He sees that these processes are good for our souls, and in light of eternity, it’s good work worth waiting for.


Day 15: A Heads-Up At Halfway

Hi there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m now about halfway through! Yeow! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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I’ve nearly crossed the threshold of the halfway-marker for this marathon of writing, which to be honest, compared to the average length of a publication on the New York Times Bestseller list is probably more of a sprint. Or a 400 meter. With hurdles.

At any rate, I thought I’d take a moment to do a Heads-Up at the Halfway-Mark and share a bit of what’s going on behind the scenes for me as I have the privilege of adventuring into some great cloud of unknowing to look for the goodness of God in unexpected places.

First, feel free to send me a virtual fist-bump and throw in a few of those waving-your-hands-in-my-direction-with-your-fingers-pointing-like-six-shooters, because I have already achieved what I considered a near-impossible task:

Cue the bold, italics and underline. And center:

For two whole weeks, I have gotten out of bed every morning somewhere between 5:30 and 5:45 am to spend time with the Lord and then write what I feel led to write.

My conclusion? I am capable of a whole lot more than I thought I was. I absolutely convinced myself that I would never function on a slightly reduced number of hours of sleep. I was wrong. I was occasionally able to go to bed slightly earlier the first week, but was on holiday with family last week and felt like staying awake long enough to be reasonably sociable was the right thing to do.

Cuz it wuz.

And I will admit when the Belle decided she was too princess for a pack-n-play and woke up MULTIPLE times every night for the entire week of our vacation (not the deal at home, mind you), I was completely surprised that it was only on the car ride home on Sunday afternoon that I felt a sudden risk of collapse.

For most of the week, I actually felt…better than usual.

Beach Boys

 {Uncle Russ and his fan club.}

And I suppose I must also admit there was ONE morning which involved me resetting an alarm thinking I was going to let myself sleep just until 6 am and something malfunctioned and I woke up thanks to the Belle at 6:42.

But other than that, I feel like a champion.

You, too, are capable of more than you think, dear reader, dear friend!

Second, I don’t know if you remember me mentioning in the Introductory Post about how 22-ish ideas showed up in the hotel room when I had a moment to think this gig through? Well, I’ve probably used about five of those ideas over the past 15 days. Which convinces me very quickly that there is no end to the goodness of God, and perhaps no direction you can look where you cannot somehow see a glimpse of His hand or the potential for praiseworthiness.

The Earth is filled with His glory.

Last, I have probably arrived at a place of admitting that my kids are sometimes an excuse when they shouldn’t be. With regard to stewarding my gifts well, with regard to ministry, with regard to when I go to bed and when I rise, my level of sanity on any particular day, my mood, and how often I sneak to the fridge for three or twelve chocolate chips.

Maybe I’m not ready to admit that yet, so forget you read any of that.

To you sweet people who are commenting and sharing and virtual-high-fiving, thank you. The sweetest reason for me to get out of bed is the quiet time where I hear whispers that remind me of a good and Holy God who commanded the Universe to exist and still somehow thinks I’m worth talking to. But the knowledge that you are blessed, encouraged, challenged, uplifted — it absolutely makes this journey so much sweeter.

Here’s to fifteen more days of glorious goodness… and I imagine many more after that.



Day 14: Joy from Ashes

Day 14: Joy from Ashes

Hi there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m almost halfway through! I’d love for you to join me and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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If there’s one thing in this world I’m not a big fan of, it’s pain. I’ll be honest with you. Last year, when I wanted to wait for the Belle to arrive in her own perfect timing, part of the reason was that I’d heard so many stories of women being induced and slowly laboring for hours and hours AND hours. When there’s a chance your body could remember how to have a baby in 90 minutes or less — why aim at any alternative? Right?

But on this adventure in searching for goodness in unexpected places, it would be wrong not to look closely at the beautiful and redemptive purposes wrapped up in the presence of pain in our lives.


When I lost my Dad, I began writing with much more fervor, as I found putting words on a page (in this case a web page) very therapeutic, and I felt sure someone else had also been there, and the words might be a source of comfort to them, too.

I had no idea how many people would contact me to tell me how much they enjoyed reading what I wrote when I lost my Dad. HH and I were shopping for bunk beds for our boys and having lost my Dad came up in conversation. The lady who was showing us  beds in her store slowly put two and two together, and got excited talking about how much she’d enjoyed what she’d read. People who didn’t even know what a “blog” was had visited this site and always had something very positive to say.

For me, it was incredibly redemptive, and a “beauty from ashes” moment — especially because my Dad was a faithful reader, was excited about my writing, and often encouraged me about my gift. I think he was probably very pleased, looking down to know that  a post where I wrote about my relationship with him and how hard it was to lose him, but how I knew I could trust God, had more hits than any other page on my site ever before.

Rightly seen, pain and troubles are opportunities — you can be sure God is near.

James wrote:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when you faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. {James 1: 2-4}

In His glorious goodness, the Lord saw it fit to make pain and sorrow and trials and difficulties — all suffering — an opportunity. We seize the opportunity by choosing to trust God, accept adversity, and give it back to the Lord to ask that His purposes be accomplished through it.

In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young wrote {in first person from the Lord’s perspective – so you don’t get confused}

“Bearing your circumstances bravely–even thanking me for them–is one of the highest forms of praise. This sacrifice of thanksgiving rings golden-toned bells of Joy throughout heavenly realms. […] your suffering gains meaning and draws you closer to me. Joy emerges from the ashes of adversity through your trust and thankfulness.” {October 14, p. 301}

When adversity knocks at the door, often that the point in the plot where the story gets really good. The Lord is like an artist that travels to junk yards. He pulls out rough pieces of metal, scraps of an old tire — the kind of stuff the world has seen no value in, tries to avoid and pushes aside.

And with that junkyard stuff? He creates an absolute masterpiece.

He creates a masterpiece out of the broken pieces of our lives. He is always able to create beauty, to surprise us with joy in unexpected circumstances.

Are you walking through something tough right now? I’m sorry that you are — but I know God has a redemptive purpose for your pain. Can you turn to Him and tell Him you trust Him? Can you thank Him for the joy and beauty you are going to see, even when you haven’t seen it yet?

It is gloriously unexpected — our troubles are the medium God chooses to use for His best masterpieces.


Day 13: Blessed Obedience

Day 13: Blessed Obedience

Hi there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m in the middle of enjoying. I’d love for you to join me and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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I’m thinking of a word that could bring about an incredible reformation. A single word that could change the face of the Earth completely if every follower of Jesus made it central to his walk.

Here’s a hint:

So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. {I Samuel 15:22}

Got it yet?

It’s Obedience.

We celebrate a lot around the Collie household. Not with wild parties or raucous behavior, but with simple moments of joy and cheering, and, when appropriate, perhaps a little tangible reward, too.

We sometimes celebrate the success of a child who took his own initiative to do his business, and successfully did so in the potty. We celebrate because someone has accomplished something new — a first step, a new word, some accomplishment of strength or agility or brainpower.

But I would guess one of our most favorite things to celebrate is simple obedience. We don’t throw a party because one of our kids obeyed us, but we do celebrate with words of praise for the child who, without prompting, made a decision based on what he understood our wishes to be, instead of what he would have probably chosen out of his own volition.

We take the responsibility of raising our children very seriously, and while we desire to train them to hear and obey the voice of God for themselves, we see obedience to us as a good stepping stone in the meantime.


Obedience is a beautiful thing.

And if there’s one word that could change the face of the planet completely, I think it’s the Christian Church getting hold of that one.

We have a heap of knowledge about God these days. It’s as if we think we can reason our way to God, or learn our way into heaven with seven steps or with vigilant attention to just one more sermon series.

But the path to heaven is the one that was paved by the cross.

And to be identified with Christ is to take up our own cross and follow Him.

There is no Easter Sunday without a Good Friday, but still there is Easter Sunday. So this isn’t a works-based suggestion — I am not saying Brethren, Get Your Boots On and let’s work our way to Jesus.

There is Resurrection power thanks to that first Easter Sunday — there is the power of the Holy Spirit, the power that raised Jesus from the dead available to you and me. And what should we do to with that Holy Spirit?

Listen to Him. Hear what He says. Enjoy His presence and the beautiful truth that God loves us deeply and offers us peace. Yield to His leading in our daily lives.

For my kids, obedience is sometimes really hard. Especially if it doesn’t make sense in their minds — if they can’t see the logic in it, they have trouble walking it out. But sometimes the Lord calls us to do things that from our worldly perspective seem illogical, so I don’t consider it my responsibility to make sure my children have a full understanding of why I think they should do this like this or that like that.

As they learn respect for and obedience to authority, we pray that God’s will will become the ultimate authority in their lives.

When we decide to follow Jesus, His Word and His Holy Spirit become the voices of authority for us to listen to.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. {James 1:22}

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. {Galatians 5:25}

Obeying God and His Word and following the voice of the Holy Spirit is not something I could create an instruction video for and post on youtube. But it is perhaps more simple than we sometimes make it.

It seems like an unpleasant task, and a difficult one, to know that a regular part of our walk with Christ is not just once but daily {even hourly, each moment} saying Not my will, but Thy will be done. And sometimes doing the thing that the Lord is calling you to do rather than the thing you want to do can be very hard.

But there are unexpected gifts to be found here, too — the simple joy (worth celebrating) when you hear and obey the voice of God, the joy that comes from giving when God leads you to do so. The peace of trusting that He won’t lead you to a place where He will not be walking with you. The hope that you are a part of the change you want to see in the world around you — because the God who created this world is indeed making all things new.

How much thought do you give to obedience to God in your daily life? Do you feel like you’re just going about your own business without much attention to what He would have you do? Are you deceiving yourself by hearing the word but not doing it?

I am convinced that in His glorious goodness, the plans He has for us when we obey Him are so much better than anything we could come up with in our own will. Not necessarily easier — but better and of eternal value and absolutely worth celebrating. He’ll give us His Spirit to help us walk the road.

Let’s keep putting one foot in front of the other with His will at heart. We will change the world together.