Day 19: The Voice(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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This morning I woke up to the sound of some unpleasant voices. None of them were speaking out loud — it was all an unpleasant cacophony swirling around inside my brain.

You see, yesterday, perhaps sometime mid-morning, this cheeky little itch of a sore throat started and I immediately began preparing for the worst, thinking I’ll be practically knocked out with this unpleasant sickness for a week or two, with only enough energy to barely make it through each day, getting the minimal amount of work done around the house.

By last night the cheeky little itch was a full-blown OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW sore throat with a runny nose quickly joining the party. The Tank began coughing suddenly, and fervently, and the Hubs had a full-blown OWWWWW sore throat, too. {The Bear never seems to struggle with the colds the rest of the family gets!}

It was an okay night at the Collie house, with a couple of sleep interruptions but nothing major, but when I woke up this morning, feeling poorly and knowing the Hubs would be away shooting a wedding today, the voices set in, ready to begin whispering discouragement to my every attempt at even getting out of bed.

Here goes another rough day. Hope you can get through it.

Mark’s not going to be here and I have a sick kid to deal with.

You’re trying to do more than you’re capable of. You’re going to have to back off of something.

I wonder how long this sickness will last this time?

Needless to say, I didn’t really want to get out of bed.

Yesterday, I mentioned the fact that the sheep know their shepherd’s voice, and we, the sheep of the Good Shepherd, will know His voice by spending time in His presence.


And all of those sentences listed up there? They don’t sound anything like His voice. Some of them have surely come from my own soul in its discouraged state, and others are straight from the pit, where the enemy of my soul (and yours) prowls about like a roaring lion, hoping to devour the destiny God has planned for you.

What does the Voice of the Lord say instead?

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. {Isaiah 43:2}

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. {John 16:33}

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. {Hebrews 12:1-3}

What does all this mean?

First, the Shepherd doesn’t promise the absence of adversity. Bumps on the track are likely. But the Shepherd does promise His presence in the midst of adversity. Second, we don’t have a God who hasn’t walked through adversity. Considering the example of Jesus, and what he endured, let’s take heart when we’re met with opposition and discouragement. He has already made it through — He can coach us to make it, too!

Hope has a name — and that name isn’t our president’s, it’s our King’s.

No matter what the other voices are whispering, what the circumstances in the world around you make you want to believe, we will overcome if we learn to listen to the Voice, as He can enable us to walk through anything for our good and His glory.

Whatever it is that’s in your heart, that you deeply sense you were created to do, it’s going to be met with opposition and there are going to be days of discouragement. You and I CANNOT allow the voices of discouragement to turn into the excuses that determine the course of our life — and run it off the course that God marked out for us.

When discouragement starts whispering, friends, run as fast as you can into His presence, soaking up the Truth that He says about who you are — and most important, who He is and ever shall be. Let discouragement become an unexpected gift that pushes you to focus even more on finding the Presence and hearing the Voice of your Savior.

Whether it’s a catastrophe or a head cold — He is with you, and He is gloriously good.


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.