My Space

     The young girl within me giggled when I walked into the hotel room. It was immaculate. And there was a king-size bed just for me.  I plopped down on the pillow-top mattress.

I can watch whatever on television. I can stay up late reading. I can eat crackers in bed…it’s all my space.

Odd those ten hours of space would trigger my emotions.

I remember being a child on family vacations. Long hours driving down the highway in our Ford station wagon. My younger brother stretches out on the back bench seat, his feet crossing the imaginary line we agreed upon.

“Mommm, tell R…to get on his own side!”

As a teenager, if little brother walked into my bedroom uninvited,“Mom, tell R… to get out of my room!”

In my twenties, two spaces became one. Not only did I have to share my personal space, so did the groom. After the honeymoon, I had to ask, “Honey, may I have some closet space for my clothes?”

Then the children arrived and there was no space. They thought nothing of knocking on my bathroom door.


“Can’t it wait?”

“Tell J….to leave me alone.”

Now that two of our children are grown, I have more space. But some days I want it all to myself. Don’t ask me why. I only know, for one night I had my space. And it was good.

Then came self-imposed guilt.

I thought of the excellent wife described in Proverbs 31. According to verses 15 and 18, she didn’t have any space. The woman “gets up while it is still dark, and her lamp does not go out at night.”

Then again, perhaps we aren’t so different. Many a day, I rose while it was “still dark” to feed my babies and rock them back to sleep. Plenty of “nights” I stayed awake to stroke my children’s feverish brows.

As on-call wife and mom, I carved my space out of early mornings and midnight hours. Then I learned to share that space with God.

How can a woman be a good steward, serve her family, and minister to the needy without enough space?

The same way Jesus handled the masses and moments of each day.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed” (Mark 1:35 NIV).

Need space? Rise early while it’s still dark, and pray…

Even in this season of life.

Put on the Oxygen Mask

By Saturday morning, I was tapped out.

All week, I had been with people. Serving some. Listening to others vent. Now I needed to visit jail for one-on-one counseling, but I had nothing left to give.

My head pounded. My body was like a limp rag. How can I share the gospel when I can barely remember my name? I had to reschedule.

Too often, helping humanity seems more exhausting than yard work or housework. My back may ache as I pull weeds or push a mop, but I’m on autopilot. At the end of the task, I feel productive, even energized.

When it comes to people, particularly listening to their problems, I’m drained. That’s because I absorb people’s moods like a sponge. Think I can fix them. Fall back into people pleasing.

“You’re an answer to prayer,” someone told me, after I resolved her problem. Now I have the problem.

Practically speaking, I must:

Set boundaries

Stop rescuing

Say NO…without guilt.

Spiritually speaking, I must:

Meditate on the Word

Ask for Wisdom

Obey God’s Will 

   In Mark 1: 21-38, Jesus spent the day in Capernaum healing many people with various diseases, and casting out demons. Verse 33 says “the whole city had gathered at the door.” So how did Jesus avoid burn out?

 Verse 35:  “And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out to a lonely place, and was praying there.” 

Simon hunts for Jesus and says, everyone is looking for you.” But prayer was a priority. Jesus understood His purpose (verse 38) and wasn’t going to be derailed by everyone’s demands.

If Jesus, in his humanity, had to pray and seek the Father’s will, then I must:

  • Have the mind of Christ so I can…
  • Have a sacrificial servant’s heart so I can…
  • Have His love and strength to help others without sabotaging myself. 

Bottom line, I must:

Remember prayer gives me a right perspective so I can respond properly to my relationships and problems. 

In other words, “Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.”

And take a deep spiritual breath.






Still the One

Open Bible. Read His Word. Pray.

I’ve got the routine down. But this morning I’m only going through the motions.

Check my spiritual pulse. It’s as though I’m flat line_____.

No inspiration. No spark.

Need the Holy Spirit to jump start my heart.

Driving to jail for Bible study, I pray, “Lord, restore to me the joy of Thy salvation.” How do I show others Your power when I feel the lack?

Can’t trust my feelings. Hold onto the facts.

Twenty women dressed in red, with faces hard as the concrete walls. Television blares. Inmates engrossed in board games ignore me. Loathe who I am.

I wait until one adventurous soul brings her Bible and joins me at the table. And then another. We are three women gathered in His name. Take turns reading Scripture aloud because God’s word “will not return to Him empty, Without accomplishing what He desires…” (Isaiah 55:11).

One time a paralyzed man came to Jesus for healing, but first Jesus forgave the man’s sins. “Which is easier,” Jesus said, “to say to the paralytic ‘your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘arise and take up your pallet and walk?’ But in order that you may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins –He said to the paralytic-– ‘I say to you rise, take up your pallet, and go home’ ” (Mark 2:9-11).

And he did. More important, his sins were forgiven. Just like myself and two inmates.

His Spirit lives within us. But the goal is to let His Spirit reign.

We read, discuss, and pray. Three lit candles shining in the dark. Not knowing someone watches and waits to come to the table, drawn by the light.

“Will you pray for me?” the woman asks when the other two have left.

Like the paralytic, she wants the tangible rather than eternal. Prefers a prayer request instead of a personal relationship. Still I pray, hoping she’ll seek Jesus who rescues sinners and then answers prayers.

I leave the room. Hurry down a long hallway, listening to my heels click on the cement floor. Watch the video cameras watching me.

Metal doors snap unlock so I can open and close. One door after another until at last I’m on the outside.  I soak up the sun’s warmth as a fresh breeze brushes my face.

I feel His pleasure, the joy of His salvation.

Because Jesus is the Living God. Still healing. Still forgiving.

Telling me, “Arise.”

“Why do you worry?”

Everyone in the house is sleeping. But me. Audio tapes of previous conversations and questions about tomorrow play in my head. The cooing of a White-winged Dove outside my bedroom window draws me out of bed.

I venture outside to sit alone on my folk’s back patio; alone with my thoughts. But the whistle of a train passing through this small town interrupts my silence.

In a brown oak rocking chair, I watch the day unfold like a stage play. White-winged doves fly from one mesquite tree to another; resting on the branches, eating cracked corn from pet bowls sitting on the picnic table. Overhead, a  T-38 jet from the neighboring Air Force base zooms by, drowning out the chorus of Grackles and Finches.

A cornfield separates me from the rural highway where people in cars speed by. They rush to jobs, run errands, hurry to medical appointments. But time doesn’t rule me today. I can read scripture and pray before the household wakes up.

Tradition brings me to the Lone Star state each year. Four generations gathered round the dining room table on Easter weekend. Thankful for God’s provision, and His Son who died on the cross and rose again. Thankful for family despite the drama.

Now it’s a weekday morning. The others have gone, and my family is staying a few more days. But who’s counting? Unless it’s true that ‘company and fish stink after three days.’ In which case, it explains why my folks have been sniffling.

I randomly open my Bible to Matthew 6:26, 27. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single day to your life?

A yellow Aspen leaf is pressed between the pages. I’ve been here before; the words in verse 28 are underlined: “why do you worry.

Why do you worry?” Take action. Pray for that person’s employment, that person’s health, that person’s relationship with Christ, and with others.

Why do you worry?” Spoken by Jesus knowing the excruciating death that awaited Him. Knowing all but one of His disciples would be martyred. Knowing believers would be scattered and persecuted.

God, the Alpha and Omega, knows my past regrets, present concerns, my future.  And still He says, Why do you worry?”

I can rock frantically back and forth, getting no where. Absorb the drama, stand on my soap box, worry about tomorrow.

Or I can sit still in His presence. Rest on His Word and obey, “Do not worry… but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness….” (verses 31-33)

The choice is mine…

Even in this.

What’s Taking Soooo Long?

For several weeks now, my teenage son walks in the door after school and greets me with the same question, “Did my music CD arrive?”

I shake my head, and watch him sort through the mail as he grumbles, “It should have been here by now.”

Forget snail mail, my son wants to know if the company sent me an email explaining the status of the CD he ordered.

“No word.”

“What’s taking so long?”

  I’ve asked God that same question.

 “Lord, I prayed about this matter weeks ago…………What’s taking so long?

 I sort through God’s Word, searching for His answer.  I pray and fast so God knows I mean business. I claim Luke 11:5-13 where Jesus tells us to keep on asking; I’m not trying to be a pain.

But sometimes I wait so long, the weeks turn into months, and even years ……………without a response.

Does God’s silence on the subject mean NO or NOT YET?

I cross my fingers and pray again, hoping the answer is a delayed affirmation; that it may be later than sooner, but I’ll get what I want. Sounds like the brat in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory who wants the golden egg, and she wants it NOW!

Oswald Chambers once wrote, “Are you prepared to ask yourself what it is you want from God and why you want it? God always ignores your present level of completeness in favor of your ultimate future completeness. He is not concerned about making you happy right now, but He’s continually working out His ultimate perfection for you.”

There’s that word perfection again and my need (not want) to submit to God’s perfect plan for my life. “And let endurance (perseverance) have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4)

My son comes home and tosses junk mail on the kitchen counter. The disappointment on his face tugs my heartstrings. And I realize, it’s easier to pray “Thy will be done” in my life, than watch “His will be done” in my children’s lives.

 But that’s another story……………

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