The blog post where I write about goats.  Goats that climb trees.  And eat nuts. And play a part in producing something referred to as “liquid gold”.

I figured after last week’s post, things needed to be lightened up a bit.

So  I recently saw a TV documentary about these goats in Morocco that climb trees.  The tree climbing is odd enough in itself, but what happens next is something you really couldn’t make up if you tried.


They climb to get at the nuts of the Argania tree.  And nobody stops them, even though the nuts are valuable.  They actually want them to eat the nuts, because these nuts have the potential to become precious Argan oil.  Yes, the same oil – “liquid gold” –  you see now in shampoos and moisturizers and a plethora of other high-end beauty products.  But there’s a problem. The nuts are too hard to crack in their natural state, so they let the goats’ digestive tracks do the work.  Once the nuts have.. ahem.. passed “through” and been deposited on the ground, they’re gathered up (by some very brave people, might I add) and processed into oil.  Very. Expensive. Precious. Oil.

I really do think God must laugh at His creation sometimes.  Who would have thought that a goat would climb a tree, eat a nut, “refine it”, deposit it on the ground, and the end result is something people pay lots of money for?  Something precious from something, well, not so precious.

Not so far fetched, really.  God does the same thing in our lives.  Jeremiah 15:19 says, “If you return, then I will restore you.  Before Me you will stand.  And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman.”  (NASB)

Extract the precious from the worthless.

There are situations in our lives that can seem crazy and hard.  We pass through some pretty yucky stuff.  That’s where we’re tempted to question God, begin to cry out that things don’t make sense and wonder why He would choose to put us through it. But you know, it could very well be that He intends to make something absolutely precious out of the process.

The extraction process is never easy.  Even after the Argania tree nuts go through that first assault, they still have to be pounded and ground down and pressed and pressed and pressed.  And only then does the precious golden oil begin to flow out.

“But He knows where I am going.
And when He tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.”  Job 23:10

When things don’t make sense, when you’re passing through the yuck and feel pounded and pressed down until you think you’ll break, think of the goat in the tree in Morocco.  And smile.  God does some crazy things in crazy ways sometimes, but the end result could very well be something…precious.


Please, my friends.  Please stop and think before you post.

I didn’t plan to get sad over social media this morning.  I was just doing my usual A.M. check of what might have happened overnight that I needed to know about. “Needed” being used loosely, of course.  But anyway, there they were.  Posts.  Ones that made me sigh.  Ones that made me wince and cringe and wish I hadn’t seen them.

I totally understand passion.  I get it.  We need passionate people who will stand by their convictions, people who want to save our country and our world from literal or spiritual demise, people who want to stop injustice and stop political candidates who don’t hold their values.   But sometimes, the passion turns mean.


Should we defend our beliefs and hold fast to what we think is right and good? Yes!  By all means, yes.  But this morning I saw posts that trampled over the people “on the other side”.  And that goes for both “sides”.  I read things that hurt me, that pierced my heart. Things posted by those I consider friends, but who believe differently than me. Things that made me want to respond in defensive, snarky ways. Sweeping generalizations and attacks on what I consider to be subjects of vital and spiritual importance.  And  I wondered if the ones who posted them even thought of me when they chose to share whatever it was they shared.

But then, I saw people who should know better do the same thing. Angry, accusatory posts by those called by the name of Christ.  And I thought of how many times in the Bible we are given pretty clear guidelines as to what our speech should be like, especially to a listening world.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.  Proverbs 15:1

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool blurts out foolishness.  Proverbs 15:2

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.  Proverbs 25:11

The Sovereign Lord has given me His words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary.  Isaiah 50:4

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.  Colossians 4:6

If our posts and shares and likes come across  just as angry and judging as those on the other side of our belief fence, how in the world are we showing them that we’re any different?  Are our words gentle and appealing and beautiful and wise and comforting and gracious?  Or do they allow us to posture defensively, take our sides, attack the enemy?

And what if the “enemy” is someone who is our friend?  What if the “enemy” is someone who needs to know the Lord, and we are the only one in their lives they are going to see Him through?  Sometimes we forget that not everyone on our friends lists, not every one of our “followers” know Jesus.  If the only example they have of a Jesus-follower is me, what are they seeing?  An incensed, opinionated, in-your-face kind of person?  Or will they see someone who will hold unwaveringly to her beliefs, but who will refuse to engage in arguments that serve no other purpose than to make us dig our heels in even deeper?

It’s so easy to hit that post button, so easy to get caught up in the “us vs.them” mindset.  It’s easy to scroll through all those shares and links and articles and memes and want to high-five the friend who scored the knockout punch, shout a hearty “amen” and re-share it because it makes us feel good.  But please.  Stop and think about it.  I can’t believe that I’m even saying this and part of me is cringing, but… WWJD?  Don’t judge me for that!  I don’t have the bracelet or the bumper sticker and don’t ever intend on getting one.  But really. Would Jesus share the things you share?  Would He be pleased with how vindicated you feel when someone from your side of the fence hits a home run with the snarkiest meme you’ve ever seen?  When we share our disdain for the other political party, or the person whose values and lifestyles and choices run counter to our own, are we really helping make the Gospel appealing to anyone?

I’m not standing on a soapbox.  I’m just sad.  I want us to find a way to use social media to let the Light shine through us, not win the debate through justified anger and “rightness” and fence fortification.

The next few months are going to be hard.  Part of me wants to just avoid social media altogether.  And that may not be a bad idea.  But it may be that God is calling us to make a difference instead of simply avoiding the conflict.  Maybe He’s calling us to share our values and convictions and beliefs in ways that are seasoned with salt and grace and wisdom and love.  I think it’s worth a try.  Think about it.


Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works.  Hebrews 10:24


I picked up my phone for the umpteenth time that day to check my latest stats, and that’s when it hit me.  I was starting to let numbers determine my value.


I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not alone.  We all know the feeling.  We post a picture on Instagram and keep checking to see how many people loved it, or even better – commented on it.  We share a witty meme, angst of the day or cat picture on Facebook and go back about every 10 minutes to see who liked it.  Well, those who know me also know that I would never post a cat picture, but you get my point.  I’m not sure there are that many of us who post something and then never think to go back and see what kind of effect it had on people.  Am I right?


So my particular epiphany happened over a blog post.  I’ve been writing a blog for 6 years now.  300+posts.  I write even though the blog hasn’t broken any records for views and it hasn’t shown up on any notable person’s radar.  I keep doing it, because I think I have some things to share.  But honestly, I know that  the desire for affirmation and approval lurks just slightly below the surface, and all it takes is just one negative comment or low-stat day and I start to question what I’m doing.  I start to question if God still wants me to write and if I still have anything of value to say.  I briefly consider stopping altogether.

Silly me.

How quickly I forget why I started to write in the first place.  I wanted to encourage others by sharing the lessons God was teaching me.  My unique perspective as a single woman learning to trust God in all areas of my life (not just the relationship ones) gave me a voice and a platform to encourage others.  God opened the door, but He never told me that I needed to encourage hundreds of others.  Or thousands of others.  So if He didn’t specify the scope of my writing, why do I let myself get so anxious over it?

That anxiety is a sin issue, yes. Be anxious for nothing, right?  But a tangled “web” hasn’t really helped the situation.

I know that the internet allows me to communicate with people who aren’t part of my immediate circle.  That’s what blogs are all about, aren’t they?  We’re only one click away from people on the other side of the country and even the other side of the world. Unfortunately, it’s also the web that feeds my insecurities about whether or not what I’m writing is valuable.  It reminds me that others are more successful, have more views, more readers, more shares, more likes. It tells me that if my blog isn’t referenced on popular websites or by popular people, my message is somehow less important.

I joined an online writers group recently.  I sincerely wanted to know how to get better at what I do.  It turned out to be not as much about actual writing, but about how to  “Grow your email list! Hook them with a giveaway! Make money from your blog!”.

That “increase your traffic!” message was hard for me.  At first it seemed innocent enough, but then it became the goal.  Numbers.  It became all about the numbers.  And the next thing I knew, I was checking my phone every 5 minutes to assess those all-important views.

Had I become more focused on my numbers than on my message?  Was I allowing those numbers to determine the value of what I was sharing?  I had only 32 people click on my entry one day.  If I had 32 people in a Bible class at church listen to what I had to say and respond well to it, I’d consider that a good crowd.  But because we’ve been so trained to have it be all about the numbers and clicks and likes and shares, we think we’re failing or not measuring up.  We need the numbers to feel validated and that’s not right.  What if our stories only need to encourage a few people to be “successful” in God’s eyes?  What if we’re not all going to end up as highly notable authors and speakers who have 100,000+ followers on social media and name recognition and incomes generated from blogs and websites?  What if God gives us a platform that encourages just a handful of people at a time?  The internet has brought the world closer, but that doesn’t mean our ministries all have to become world-wide in size or scope.

While processing these thoughts, I got a message from a woman who said she shared my blog post with her discipleship group at church.  I felt like God was saying, “See? You do have an influence.  That post you were so worked up about needed to be read by a few women this morning.  You did good.”  God was validating my work.  God, not 100 clicks, not 100 “likes”.  But the One whose opinion I value the most saw what I had done in His name, and blessed it.

“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly.  As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:16 NLT

My part might not be the biggest, flashiest or most popular.  There are a lot of body parts that don’t get much recognition or attention, but they’re still vital and still valuable. My little blog will never take the internet by storm, will never go viral or take down a server because of too many hits.  But it’s what God has enabled me to do.  He blesses it and uses me, not always in big ways (by the world’s standards) but in little faithful ones.  I’ll continue to seek out ways to improve what I do and make my writing better.  But it can’t be for the numbers.

Your ministry may be small by the world’s standards.  Your circle of influence may not be as big as some.  But that doesn’t make your role in God’s kingdom any less important.  He has gifted us all differently, and puts us right where He needs us to be.

So go ahead and share and write or do whatever it is you have been called to do. And do it well.  But leave the validation to the One who called you to do it.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. Colossians 3:23 

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:24


So I really don’t know a whole lot about baseball.  My baseball claim to fame was losing my lunch (I’m trying not to be graphic) at Yankee stadium when I was six years old.  That’s another story for another time.

But nephew #4 is on a high school baseball team.  And thanks to the wonders of technology, I got to log in and virtually “see” his game yesterday from 1200 miles away.  It’s not a live camera or anything, but lots of real-time graphics to let you know what’s happening on the field.  I knew he was at bat.  So exciting!  But then the screen said this:


I was disappointed for him and for the team.  But the more I looked at that phrase, the more something intrigued me.  If you strike out swinging, doesn’t that mean you were all in? That you were facing that ball coming at you and giving it your best shot?



You know, sometimes we aren’t “successful” in everything we attempt.  But isn’t it important that we were swinging and not just standing there?  Shouldn’t we be “all in” and give it our best shot?  And that includes things we attempt for the Lord.

God asks for our obedience, but our efforts don’t always look like successes. Discouragement lays the groundwork for not wanting to attempt anything again.  We lose heart or walk away, questioning what God was up to in our lives, wondering why we failed when we were giving it our all.  But the thing is, our views of success are different than God’s.  He could have a perfectly good plan for how He’s going to use our seeming strike-out.  Strike-outs can prepare us for the next thing, for the next opportunity for obedience.

I have to keep getting up to bat and giving it my best.  And if my plans don’t unfold the way I imagined they would, I want the graphic under my name to say. “She struck out swinging”.

Thanks for the reminder, Erick.  Keep swinging.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Galatians 6:9 NLT

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that He has promised.  Hebrews 10:36 NLT

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character and character strengthens our confident hope in salvation.  Romans 5:3-4  NLT



Early morning thoughts about life.   My life in particular.

Not that that’s anything new.  I’m a thinker.  I think about a lot of things, my life being one of the more frequent subjects. It’s usually pretty entertaining.  At least to me. This morning’s thoughts were prompted by a verse I just read, one  I’m sure I’ve seen before as I’ve wandered through the Psalms, but today something stood out to me.

“The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me – a prayer to the God of my life.”  Psalm 42:8

“The God of my life.”  MY LIFE.  My life, with all of it’s uniqueness.  Nobody else has my life.  This verse makes me stop and think about it – the beginning of it, the years I’ve lived, where I’ve gone, what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished, the people I’ve known, what God has called me to do, where I am now, where I’m going, the life that belongs only to me.  There is no one else on earth who has had my same experiences, my thoughts, my dreams, my fears, my triumphs.  No one else even knows that I’m sitting here at this table at this moment.

This is my life.  And the two of us – me and God – are together in it.  He is the God of the life that I have been given.  Today.  In all that it holds.  The lovingkindness of this morning, and the song of tonight.

Maybe this morning I just needed to dwell on that for a few minutes.  I needed to be reminded of the gift I’ve been given – the very unique opportunity to live the life that God chose me for, to live it for His glory and His honor and not my own.  It may be a life unique to me, but I’m not alone in it.  There is Someone watching over it, directing it, blessing it.

The God of my life.


You are my King, O God.  Psalm 44:4

For the Lord is our defense, and the Holy One of Israel is our King.  Psalm 89:18

For the Lord God is a sun and shield.  The Lord will give grace and glory.  No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.  Psalm 84:11




I know God cares about me.  Sometimes He reminds me of that in a special and personal way, and it makes me smile.

So, yesterday I was almost ready to dip my toes in the waters of “woe is me”.  I woke up to The Most Awful Sound coming from my air conditioning unit.  Now I realize that some of you are still wearing sweaters and wondering where Spring went, but where I live we’ve already experienced foreshadowing of August heat and humidity and my crankiness level is drifting a bit higher.  And I also know that air conditioning or potential lack thereof is totally a first world problem and I have much, much, much to be thankful for.

But when The Most Awful Sound shattered my quiet morning, thoughts of “what now?” and “why now?” and “how much is this going to cost?” and “why don’t I have a man around to help me with this?” and “just how hot is it going to get in here?” started to bubble to the surface.


Oh, how quick we are to forget our blessings!  How quick we are to panic or despair and think the worst instead of using something like this as an opportunity to hand it over to the Lord.  Hasn’t He promised to take care of us?  Hasn’t He promised to work out everything for good in our lives?

He never said all things ARE good.  But He did say that He’d work them all out FOR our good.  If we let Him.  If we trust Him.  If we step back away from the waters of “woe is me”.

Yesterday was a chance for me to practice that.  And by later that afternoon, I had the nicest A/C service guy at my house who reminded me of my Dad (someone who knew everything about everything) and he took the time to explain it all and didn’t make me feel stupid and gave me all the information I needed to make the right choice as far as what to do next.  He couldn’t fix it right then, so I prepared to brace for a long night in my hot home.  We had temps in the 90’s the day before.

But God sent me an “I care about you” reminder note in the form of a strong breeze and temps in the 60’s coming through my windows all night.  And even though the A/C won’t be fixed for another few days, South Florida might have record breaking LOW temperatures tonight and maybe the next few nights.

And I’m smiling.  I still need to lay out a whole bunch of money for a new unit, but God will take care of me.  Like He always does.  Like He promises He will do.  He didn’t have to show me that with an unexpected May cold front and a service technician who reminded me of my Dad, but He did.

Thanks for the reminder, Lord.

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  2 Corinthians 4:17

You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.  Psalm 115:11



Grieve.  Kind of a dark word.  For some reason, it has found its way into more than a few things I’ve read recently.  When something like that happens, I feel like I need to stop and think about it.

When I hear that word, I usually picture funerals and empty places at dinner tables and tears shed over the loss of someone who will never come home again.

But there are other kinds of grief, too.

flowers on pavement

Yesterday someone sent me an email that told me about a single, never-married friend who had to undergo a hysterectomy.  Having a child had been her lifelong dream.  She said that she was grieving.

Just today I was reading an article on “Chaste Christian Singleness“.  It said, “Sexually chaste singles genuinely miss out on good experiences in this life, and we do so precisely because we believe God locates those particular good experiences in marriage. It’s good for us to recognise these losses, and, if and when they deeply strike our emotions, to grieve them.”

Several weeks ago there was a quote by John Piper going around social media.  “Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be.  Grieve the losses.  Then wash your face.  Trust God.  And embrace the life you have.”

So good.  And so very true.

Sometimes we do need to grieve the life we hoped would be.  And I think God is okay with that.  Just read the Psalms and other passages of lament.  We all have dreams and ideas about what our lives will look like.  When they don’t turn out that way, it’s not always possible to keep smiling and box up the disappointment and act like we aren’t crushed.  We can’t wallow in it, but sometimes we need to mourn the loss of the dream so that we can make room for new ones.

There’s grieving over things other than singleness or childlessness.  Those are just the things I’m most familiar with.  Most of us will wake up one day and realize this isn’t the life we thought we signed up for. Or at least the life we would have signed up for if there was such a thing as choosing all aspects of the life we live.   We celebrate the dreams come true, the goals achieved, and the blessings that come our way.  But maybe we need to give ourselves permission to grieve the unfulfilled ones as well.

God always has a plan.  A perfect one.  One that deep inside, we know we want above all else.  But it’s okay to mourn the plans we thought were the best. Especially if they were plans we had held onto for a long time. Then, just as John Piper said, we need to get back up, wash our faces, trust God and embrace the life He has right in front of us.  It doesn’t mean He still won’t provide and answer and bless, but it might look a whole lot different than what we had always imagined and longed for.

God can handle our honesty and our disappointment.  He can take our tears and our questions.He knows our weaknesses and our frailty and our limited human understanding of our circumstances.  And when we’re spent,  He’s always right there to help us get back up and begin trusting again.  I sometimes think a good cry or a good rant clears the way for God to step in and be the Comforter He’s promised to be.

So there is a grief that can happen without rainy graveside services, without obituaries and memorials and empty seats at dinner tables. Sometimes grieving is a silent, honest interaction between us and God.  Sometimes it’s something we just need to do.

And then when we’re done, we need to look for that washcloth.  Because there’s a whole life to embrace ahead of us. There are new dreams to pursue.

For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.  Job 14:7

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—                                                                                                   Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.  Habakkuk 3:18-19

He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD.  Psalm 40:3