Day 31: Reflections on His Goodness

Day 31: Reflections on His Goodness

Hi there! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by! This post is the LAST post of a 31-Day writing adventure I jumped into this month! If you’d like to see the fruits of this labor, you can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” with links to each day, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in! I hope you’ll be back soon!

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Here it is folks… the last of 31 Days of (continuously) reflecting on the goodness of God! {Without a doubt I’m certain I will continue to think about/write about His goodness for as long as I’m allowed to keep breathing.} The challenge to get up early and write my heart out before breakfast this month was great starting out, but definitely got harder as the month went on.

It was never much of a struggle to find things to say about the goodness of God. I was a little surprised by that, but not very — He is so good, I am quite certain I could spend the rest of my life writing about His goodness every morning. Every morning itself is a reason to write!

Here are a few reflections on what I’ve learned out of this little exercise, that I hope will be helpful for you, too.

While I hope and trust this adventure in writing was an encouragement, and even a challenge to others, to consider the glorious goodness of God and live life accordingly, I sense it might also have been about me seeing what I was able to do (and less about the words on the page). For a long time I’ve had bits and snippets of larger writing projects tucked away neatly in folders in My Documents, and there they have stood quietly without progress.

Now that I realize I could start getting up and putting 1,000 words on a page before breakfast, progressing toward a particular goal, it is time for me to stop making excuses about why I’m not writing more. If I know there’s something in my heart I’m supposed to be turning concentrated effort toward, I can no longer make excuses for why I’m not doing what I’m called to do.

This has also led me to the observation that my children have become one of my greatest excuses. Sometimes, it is completely valid to say I can’t go to this event or do that thing because it just doesn’t work with my small people, but other times, I am almost blaming my kids as the reason I can’t get up in the morning and exercise {although I will admit — it is HARD when you’re nursing a baby and you don’t know when said baby will wake up and you don’t want to leave your hubs at home with a time bomb — extend grace where grace is due}. But really? The baby might also be just the excuse I need to stay snug and warm in my bed instead of getting out there.

CCTeacher 003

{“Mom, stop calling us excuses… we’re opportunities!}

Instead of following some sort of schedule of writing about this on this day or that on that day, I chose to simply write what I felt led to write about during this 31 Days. It was absolutely an exercise in taking life one day at a time. I had to trust as I woke up each morning that I would have something worthwhile to say. And if I was planning on exercising in the morning and needed to write the night before, the Lord, in His glorious goodness, gave me the words in the evening and I wrote them down then.

Like the manna in the desert, the Lord keeps providing:

Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. {Exodus 16: 21-22}

Another lesson from this adventure that MANY of us might need to learn? I am not making rest the priority it should be. Why it is so hard for me to get up in the morning? Because I’m not getting into bed early enough the night before. The Hubs and I almost always have something else Quiver-Tree-related to do or to discuss. There’s probably laundry waiting for me to fold it, or switch it over to the dryer, or a fresh load that needs to be started. And let’s be honest, it’s pretty nice to enjoy those brief and fleeting hours when the wee ones are all sleeping and the house is peaceful.

But did you know that the sleep you get before midnight is actually the most important? And here’s some really great information about your sleep cycles, how to get the most out of your sleep, and why you should NOT be hitting that snooze button…

When I reflect on this, I recognize places in my life where I would like to be further disciplined. If I set the alarm for 5:30, I want my feet to hit the floor at 5:30.  I only have a finite number of hours on this Earth, and man, I really want to use them well. Those who accomplish big are often those who “go big” — and give all-out focus toward a singular task as much as possible.

Louis Blériot, has a cool story. He spent countless hours, francs, and years working on building an airplane. He succeeded, became the first man to fly across the English channel in a “heavier than air aircraft,” and is now remembered for his MANY accomplishments.

The conclusion? If I rise up early to meet with the Lord, and spend my days with an ear to His Presence, I am likely to accomplish more of what I was created to accomplish with my life than if I stayed in bed those extra thirty minutes, and felt worse for it.

And about the goodness of God?

There is still so much to say.

Many of you know, have read already, that earlier this year I lost my Dad. The challenge of settling his estate has been significant. The challenge of facing the rest of my life without him, so unexpectedly, even more so. But this month, I think I’ve come alive like never before. I have consistently pondered the many, many reasons I have to be thankful. I’ve celebrated milestones, big and small, like never before.

At the end of the day, almost every day, (there have been a few rough ones) I’ve been teary-eyed, or nearly in tears, with gratefulness, as we put our children to bed.

Life is good.

Do I still feel like the number of tasks on my plate is daunting (I think I said this at the beginning of the month)? Well, kind of, but, taking a moment to reflect, around the house a lot has been accomplished this month, and I’m slowly working toward some strategies that will help me subdue this household management gig, continue to homeschool very well, and enjoy time with my kids and my husband where I am not thinking about the other stuff that needs to be done.

Even in losing my Dad and gaining a part-time job I didn’t ask for, I can see the goodness of God. The people He has connected me with through it. The wisdom I’ve gained from walking through it. The growing closer to understanding my Dad by learning how he did business? A gift from a very unexpected package.

The truth is, we can spend a lifetime on the what-ifs and I-wish-it-were-like-this’s in our lives, or we can accept the cards we’re dealt and learn to recognize the goodness in them. Our lives are not the random dealing of a deck of cards, and good observation and thankfulness will help us see that.

Stop and look for the good today. And tomorrow. And the day after that…


Day 25: For When You Can’t Keep Going, But You Must

Day 25: For When You Can’t Keep Going, But You Must

Hello friend! Glad you stopped by! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure, of which I’m nearly done! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along for the rest of the series (and beyond…). 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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Among the myriad of stories the Hubs has from his travels far and wide, there’s a particular tale from his time in Scotland before we met that resonates so much with my soul every time he tells it. He was doing an adventure race in the dead of winter. He and his teammates were trudging over snowy highland peaks around Braeriach, the third highest peak in the British Isles. It was hiking, running, and cycling for a weekend, and they were hoping to be among the first to cross the finish line.

I imagine it was simultaneously incredibly beautiful and ridiculously cold.

At one particular rest stop, a teammate was preparing the rations of MREs (you know… the Meal, Ready-to-Eat army supply things?) and didn’t add enough water to the food as he prepared it. Not realizing what had happened, a very hungry and tired Hero Hubs gobbled up his MRE, and quickly realized — by the significant pain in his stomach that something. was. not. right.

Because it wasn’t.

Any water he drank felt like it was absorbed by the dehydrated food sticking to his gut, and if he tried to drink too much, he felt he would be sick. The next leg of the race was his to conquer — traversing a significant stretch of mountainous path in the snow. Already tired, and now the worst kind of sick he had ever felt in his life, he was armed with a packet of gummy bears, and not wanting to knock his team out of the race, prepared to go on.

The slow release of sugar in slowly eating the gummy bears one at a time seemed enough of a boost to help him trudge along, and he began to whisper to himself with each step: You just have to put one foot in front of the otherYou just have to put one foot in front of the other.

It was the longest, most challenging, most soul-stretching walk of his life, but he managed to make it to the next changeover, with the help of those gummy bears and the words that kept him going: Just put one foot in front of the other.

His team didn’t come in first by a longshot, but they finished the race.

Whether it’s a challenge-yourself-good adventure race or a job that it’s hard to keep doing or a season that seems like it’s never going to end, there are times when we feel like the idea of taking another step is just awful.

You might be in one of those moments right now.


For one reason or another it almost hurts just to keep breathing and the end, well, right now, it just isn’t in sight.

I’d encourage you to look for your gummy bears in a very safe place — search for the goodness, the sweetness of God. Look high and low with your every day for reasons to give thanks. Give thanks for the way the light streams through a window. Give thanks for a piece of pine straw, caught in a spider web and floating in a breeze. Give thanks for the ability to give thanks — the mental capacity to ponder the concept of thankfulness itself is a privilege.

And then? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The Jesus who humbled himself to a criminal’s crucifixion can absolutely relate to the cross you are bearing. And on the other side of the cross, there is always a Resurrection.

A.W. Tozer points out the important connection Paul made between the humbling and the exalting of Jesus from Philippians 2: 5-11:

“‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’

But notice the next word: “Wherefore.”

‘Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess…!’

This is why I believe God will crucify without pity those whom He desires to raise without measure!” {Excerpt from I Talk Back to the Devil}

Isn’t that an encouraging thought? You are being brought low to be raised up again.

I don’t know what cross you’re carrying today friend. But my encouragement to you is, one foot in front of the other, keep carrying it. There is redemption, there is life, there is being-lifted-by-the-only-One-who-truly-lifts on the other side.


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 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.


Day 2: The Strength in Our Frailty (And the Guy at the Bank)

Day 2: The Strength in Our Frailty (And the Guy at the Bank)

Hi there! This post is the second in a 31-Day writing adventure I’m embarking on. 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 is one thing I can pinpoint that I find most frustrating about the experience of being human, it’s humanity. Not everybody else’s humanity — it’s my own shortcomings that, metaphorically speaking, keep getting under my skin.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a rather unfortunate experience at the bank, where someone made a pretty bad judgment call about what was happening when I was being helped by the teller. He made a very hurtful comment and followed it up by not being willing to hear what I had to say in defense of the significant amount of time I took with the teller. I cried in my car… cried again when one of the tellers called to apologize while I was in the parking lot at Walmart… it basically just kind of stunk.

I shared the story just after it happened, but I haven’t yet shared the follow-up story, what happened the Monday after that fateful Friday afternoon. By the end of the incident, I knew the name of the gentleman who’d spoken so harshly to me. When I got home from my errands and shared what had happened, the Hubs was… pretty much livid.

He handled it well, but decided he wanted to do something in my defense. So, on Monday afternoon, I was busy in my kitchen when he walked in with the phone in his hand and said “Someone wants to speak with you.”

He’d contacted the guy from the bank, explained that he’d been rude to his wife, and said he owed me an apology. I answered the phone and he apologized in an “if I have offended you…” sort of way. Not really committing — if you get my drift?

I took a moment to explain what was happening at the bank that afternoon when he was waiting in line. That there were 112 checks to process. That those checks were to cover my Dad’s medical bills. That that day was the six month anniversary of his death.

And once he had the whole story? He really apologized. Through a few more tears, I encouraged him to remember that you don’t always know what is going on in other’s people’s lives, so it’s best to be careful with everyone. He agreed that that was good advice and seemed to sincerely take it to heart.


At the end of the interaction, I was thankful I’d had the opportunity to speak with him, appreciated the apology, and was especially grateful to the amazing husband who stood in the kitchen with me, held me while I cried once more and said “You don’t deserve to be treated like that.” {Hero, more and more all the time…}

Reflecting on this incident, I see myself in the bank story — but I’m not always the protagonist. Sometimes I’m the one misjudging others, the one who doesn’t really want to hear the explanations for what I’ve already made my own judgments about. Sometimes I’m one of the other customers in line who stands there and agrees with the guy who’s getting impatient, stoking the fire instead of suggesting there’s the possibility that something else is going on there.

I say things I later regret. I do things I wish I didn’t do. And this is the frailty that makes the human experience so challenging. Our imperfections and weaknesses are an integral part of the story — we even say it, when we make mistakes:

I’m only human.

And that only human place? That is the place where God steps in with strength for our frailty.

What seems like a liability, God turns into an asset.

Paul explains it this way:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. {2 Cor. 12: 9-10}

Paul’s weakness started out as a source of frustration for him, but in God’s glorious goodness, He saw it fit to redeem those weaknesses — and turn them into a personal advantage. The more weakness we struggle with, the more we can lean on the power of God instead of trying to stand on our own {in}sufficiency.

We will make bad calls. We’ll make mistakes. We’ll make misjudgments. We might sometimes be the one that sends someone else to their minivan in tears, and not even know it.

But there is grace and forgiveness for those poor choices, and by the help of the Holy Spirit, there is the hope that we can walk the line a little better next time, that we can stay in step with the Spirit, that we can follow the example of Jesus.

Will we ever be completely comfortable in our own skin? Probably not. But that God chooses to stand with us, work through us, forgive us and use us anyway? It’s nothing short of glorious.