Spiritual Musings on God’s Purpose and Sovereignty when Bill was selected for a “Random” Security Screening

When we were heading back to the USA out of Beijing earlier this month, our passports and boarding passes were checked a half-dozen times as we made our way through the airport. Everyone’s bags were scanned and checked and screened. Every person walked through a top-of-the-line high-tech scanner as well as being personally patted down (men by men and women by women) before being permitted to board the plane.

As Bill and I and some four-hundred others making the trip, lined up to enter the plane, Bill was one of a dozen passengers “randomly selected” to undergo an additional security check. Next to him was a small Asian woman whose husband and two young daughters were waiting for her. Then came a tall, slender black man, a large black woman, and a young middle-aged talkative white woman who was part of some kind of American women’s group, plus a handful more. There seemed no rhyme or reason to why they were selected.

Had they packed something suspicious? I suddenly remembered that Bill had a large camouflage-print battery-backup for his phone in his carry-on bag. Was that it?

Or was it something in his appearance? Bill is tall and thin with dark hair and a goatee. Hmm.

Maybe Bill wasn’t friendly enough. Maybe he asked too many questions.

There simply had to be some kind of reason for why he was selected for this additional security screening. And I wanted to know what it was!

When I was a teenager, I didn’t believe in the existence of the supernatural. All of life was a series of random chance. I didn’t believe in luck or blessing or karma.

Now I see life very differently.

Now I see everything in life as having purpose. I believe that I have been created on purpose, for a purpose, by a God of purpose. The events of my life have purpose, both for God’s glory, and for my good, as well as for the greater good of others in the God’s great plan of life.

So, if God selects me to go through a trial – whether that’s sickness or marital hardship or a wayward child – I see that trial through the lens of “PURPOSE.” I am now able to see that in some way a “seemingly random event” must have a purpose.

My faith is constantly being tested and refined. My faith is being proved genuine and made stronger. God is being glorified as I stand firm through a storm even if my knees are shaking beneath me.

Other people, too, are effected by the trials of my life, whether in how I directly treat them, or the witness that I’m able to be for Christ, or even as I write about an experience that I go through.

I’m afraid that sometimes I forget that God is at work behind the scenes and I end up feeling like I’ve been “randomly tagged,” like Bill felt that day. It’s all too easy for me to fall back into my former way of thinking and I find myself deep in the middle of a pity party when things don’t go my way, blind to the fact that God is at work both in the big stuff and the small stuff.

Friends, “we may not know WHY, and yet we know why,” as my pastor has reminded our congregation again and again since a dear fellow church member died in a house fire last Christmas.

How have you seen God at work lately?

Have you missed out on seeing purpose in the trials your life?

I’d love to pray for you. Let’s walk this road together.


Of Creativity and Power

This morning Daniel was supposed to list 15 things that show mankind’s creativity. He listed 15 different inventions like phones, lightbulbs, airplanes. I encouraged him to add other creative pursuits that are uniquely human, like art and music.

This afternoon, I was working on my Community Bible Study lesson on Genesis 1-2. We were to read Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Phones, lightbulbs and planes are made from physical matter.

Painting a picture requires paint and taking a picture requires a camera.

Making music requires an instrument or a human voice.

But God made the physical universe by the power of His spoken Word, creating what is visible out of the invisible that, “His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

God wants people to seek and know Him. Praise His name.

For more, read Acts 16:22-31, Romans 1 and Hebrews 11.

Who am I? – Of Relationship and Responsibility

Image result for overcomer movie who am i

Sunday morning, my pastor preached a fantastic sermon titled, “Relationship Comes with Responsibility.” You can listen to it online here:

Then, Tuesday night, I saw the new movie, “Overcomer.” The main character in the movie is a basketball coach and history teacher at his local Christian high school. Without giving too much away, he realizes that he is finding his identity in his job, rather than in his relationship with Christ.  The other main character, a teenage girl named Hannah, is amazed when she learns who she is in Christ while reading Ephesians 1-2 in the Bible. Hannah realizes that as a child of God, she is loved, redeemed and forgiven.

So … What about ME? Who am I … and how, then, should I live?

  • I am a created being, created in the image of God, on purpose, for a purpose … so I should live daily with purpose and hope.
  • I am a disciple of Jesus, called to make more disciples of Jesus … so I should intentionally study God’s Word and share the gospel with others.
  • I am a forgiven and redeemed child of God … so I should forgive others and help them to be reconciled with God, too.

But, my relationship with God is not my only role in life. God has given other relationships, roles and responsibilities as well.

  • I am a wife … so my husband should be a priority in my life.
  • I am a homemaker … so I should clean my house and cook dinner for my family.
  • I am a mother … so I should love and disciple my children with diligence.
  • I am a homeschooler … so I should faithfully teach and train my children in the way they should go.

Like many Christians, I can tend to overemphasize one area of my life and overlook another one.

Yes, indeed, my identity is found in Christ.

  • Who am I? I am a forgiven child of God.
  • Who am I? I am His workmanship, created on purpose for a purpose.
  • Who am I? I am a disciple of Jesus, called to make more disciples.

But, I am also a wife, homemaker, mother and homeschooler to the glory of God. These titles, too, have value and worth.

May everything I do be done to the praise of God who created me, saved me, and redeemed me … and gave me a home and a husband and children.

Having a Gluten-Free Child as a Homeschooling Mom

Do any of you love food? When you’re having a bad day, do you want to head for the pantry? When you want to celebrate, do you head for your local ice cream shop? My answers are: yes, yes, yes – How about you?

In the fall of 2015, when my middle daughter was 12, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition called, “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis” and began a gluten-free, dairy-limited lifestyle. This year she was diagnosed with autoimmune urticaria (chronic hives). My husband, too, has an autoimmune condition called, “Eosinophilic Esophagitis,” which he chooses to manage with acid reducers and allergy medicine. In May of 2016, I tried a modified diet called “Whole 30,” but have largely returned to regular eating except with less sugar and grains. You can read more about it here: Matthew 4:4 – Not Bread Alone and here: My Whole30 Tips

I hope I can help others with some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past four years of trial and error.

1. Don’t overlook the emotional impact that dietary restrictions have on your child. Food is a big part of our culture, and eating gluten free has consequences deeper than just bringing our own desserts when we go to potlucks. Noelle misses the food that she’s no longer able to eat, but she also hates being “the one” who needs gluten free pizza or who can’t eat Taco Bell tacos.

2. Plan for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Fresh fruit and fruit cups are great. So are guacamole with tortilla chips. Make extra dinner for leftovers that you can package in individual tupperwares for breakfast or lunch meals. Keep yogurt and deli meat on hand for a quick pick-me-up.

3. Encourage your child to get creative in the kitchen. Noelle has learned to make all kinds of creative dishes for herself. We have a weekly “cooking competition” for lunch. Some of her experiments have turned out GREAT and become regular favorites (crustless peach pie with a chocolate chip granola topping and chocolate dipped bananas to name a few).

4. Let your child make some of their own choices. Honestly, it would probably be better for Noelle if she didn’t eat any dairy or eggs or nuts, but until she’s ready to make that jump for herself, that is one battle that I’m not going to fight. It’s too hard for her, and, frankly, it’s too hard for me. Noelle knows how to add things to my “Walmart Grocery app” and she’ll add a gluten-free cookie that she’s craving or a salad bowl that she’d like to have for lunch. This allows her to have some control over her diet that she can’t have in other ways.

5. Be careful with your substitutions. In my attempts to avoid dairy, I substituted almond or cashew milk. In my attempts to avoid peanut butter, I substituted almond or cashew butter. In my attempts to avoid wheat flour, I substituted almond flour. In my attempts to avoid sugary snacks, I substituted roasted almonds or cashews. Bad idea. 🙁 Noelle developed a sensitivity to almonds and cashews from eating them everyday, several times a day. Rotate your food choices.

6. Pray for understanding friends for your child. Incredibly, God has blessed Noelle with her own little group of “gluten-free friends.” For as much as she hates being different, I’m so thankful that she’s not alone in this. She isn’t the only one at youth group who can’t eat the regular retreat food.

Would you like to see my list of regular dinner meals?

How about my recipes for the BEST chocolate chip cookies (made with almond flour), or DELICIOUS banana chocolate chip muffins (made with Pamela’s baking mix)?