Winnie in Wonder

About mid-summer, Don and I took our almost-15-month-old granddaughter Winnie, and her Daddy (Drew), on a fun excursion to the Henry Doorly Zoo. Like her parents, Winnie demonstrated that she could make everything a fun-filled adventure. Her little “pointer” finger never stopped showing us whatever had grabbed her attention. We “oohed” and “aahed” over anything or anyone she noticed. It was as if we were viewing everything at the zoo through her eyes. And in so doing, we touched the wonder she had found.

While reading the Bible the following day, my attention was drawn to the wonder people expressed as they witnessed Jesus demonstrating incredible miracles. When He calmed the raging storm, it stated And the men were stunned with bewildered wonder and marveled...” When He told the paralytic to take up his mat and walk, it said, “When the crowds saw it (the paralyzed man healed), they were struck with fear and awe and they recognized God by bursting into praise and thankfulness.”

As I read those powerful words, I remembered Winnie’s priceless expressions throughout the previous day. The display of wonder in her eyes, the exclamation of “Ooh” or the sudden intake of her breath. With a fresh sense of wonder piercing my heart, I began to pray: 

Lord, I want to always marvel at Your goodness and at the way You touch our lives and the lives of those around us! I want to thrill at the awareness of You and the closeness of Your Presence in my every day life. I want to rejoice over Your goodness to mankind. I want to bow in honor to You for what You accomplished on the Cross. I want to dance and rejoice with delight at the reality of Your resurrection. And I want to burst into praise and thanksgiving for building your church in the earth!

Jesus, I want to always look at You and Your Kingdom the way Winnie looked with awe and wonder at each new facet of this new world she entered a few short months ago.

Just as her delight caused me to see life through fresh, new eyes, may my life express such great delight for You that it causes those around me to see You with fresh, new eyes.

And may we, altogether, express our wonder at the goodness of You!



Don & Tyler

Barnabas means “son of encouragement”.

In the Bible we know a lot about the apostle Paul. But, there was a man named Barnabas who first came alongside Paul and encouraged him to move into the relationships and purposes God had for him. Barnabas made a difference in Paul’s life and in the connections he made.

I have been given the gift of my own personal “Barnabas” — my husband, Don. The other day, I heard a friend tell him, “You’re the most encouraging man I’ve ever known.” And it’s true! Throughout our lives, I have repeatedly heard people acknowledge to Don how his words of encouragement came exactly when they needed them, or because of his words of affirmation they took new steps of faith.

Don sees “the gold” in people and tells them what he sees. He notices their best traits and calls them out. He encourages them to step out and use the gifts they have and to become who God intends them to be. Often, he will return from a meeting with other men or pastor friends, and he will begin telling me about one of the men, and he will either begin or end by stating, “he’s a really nice man, I really like him.” He truly means it. He likes people and sees the good in them.

Over the years I’ve watched him bring loads of encouragement to our children. He tells them of his faith in them, his trust in them, how proud of them he is, and then declares over them their strengths, abilities and graces. I consider it a privilege to hear him speak into their lives! He’s done it from the moment they were born until this very day. And now he does it with our grandchildren! They too are the recipients of their own personal Barnabas.

I sometimes wonder how the kids and grandkids view this gift of encouragement, or how they feel when they hear his words of love and affirmation. But I need only watch as their faces light up, their shoulders lift, and the dark clouds part, to understand what a difference he makes by speaking life to them and placing great worth and value upon them.

Throughout our 41 years of marriage, I have tried to learn from Don, how to be an encourager; how to be someone’s Barnabas. Here are the specifics I have applied in order to help develop the gift of encouragement.

1.  FOCUS on one person. Whether Don’s with me, his children, grandchildren or in a group of people, he focuses on the person to whom he is talking.

2. LISTEN as they tell their story. Ask them about their life, and then listen carefully. Refrain from thinking about what you will say next.

3. Find the GOLD. Their strengths and abilities will emerge as they tell their story. Remember these and prepare to let them know what you’ve heard in their story.

4. Speak LIFE! Verbally affirm their strengths and abilities. Recount what they said in their story and use it to point out to them their strengths and abilities.

5. WATCH as your words of life help them become who they were meant to be!

Do you have a Barnabas in your life?

And whose Barnabas will you be?





Her One Last Tear

June 5, 2015 — 6 Comments

Yvette Yates

As her daughter’s realized she had probably taken her last breath, they bent near to listen more closely. Looking at their mother’s peaceful face, they noticed one tear resting on her cheek. Their mom was gone. Gone to be with “her Jesus.”

She always called Him, “My Jesus”.

My friend, Yvette, had a heart filled with love for Jesus, her husband, children, grandchildren, friends, family and church. She fell madly in love with Jesus, and her life was spent serving Him and His church. She was one of the most loyal women and one of the most faithful and diligent “pray-ers” I have ever met. Many people arriving at our church were greeted by her sweet spirit and endearing smile. Her loving ways made everyone feel welcomed and loved.

For many years she dealt with heart problems, but it seemed she always bounced back from them. When she went into the hospital this time, I assumed, as did everyone else, she would once again come back from the health problems she was facing.

Not this time.

She fought hard to win over her failing health. She wanted to stay and spend more time with her girls and their families. To pray more for those she always carried in her heart. She fought the good fight of faith. She pressed on to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. And she won! Not the way we had prayed and hoped she would win. Her love for Jesus won!

I don’t believe the tear her girls discovered on her cheek was a tear of sadness or sorrow.

I believe, as her physical life was not quite over and she drew closer to heaven, her spiritual eyes opened and she caught her first sight of Jesus as He truly is. I imagine this long-awaited glimpse of “her Jesus” caused her eyes to fill with tears and suddenly, as her sorrows were swallowed up in a moment of revelation,

one of those tears slipped onto her cheek.

And as she grasped His hand to walk into eternity, I can easily hear Him say,

“Yvette, we have to leave it here, because past this veil there are no more tears.”


servant picture

I received a new bible recently, and while reading it I found myself dwelling on Abraham’s servant. This nameless man who was asked by Abraham to find a wife for his son, Isaac. To some, this story might seem unimportant, but to me, it revealed something profound and weighty.

As it begins Abraham is too old to take a 500 mile journey to his homeland, to find a wife for his son. It’s an urgent matter because the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham is dependent upon Isaac getting married and having children.

God had told Abraham ” I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed will possess the gates of His enemies. And in your Seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”

Abraham is adamant with his servant that Isaac not marry any of the women in the land where they presently reside. So this unnamed, yet loyal servant, takes an oath to find a wife for Isaac, and embarks upon the journey.

At his arrival in the city of Abraham’s relatives, he settles his caravan and prays to God about finding the right woman for Isaac. It is unclear whether or not he knows God for himself. He addresses God as “O Lord, God of my master Abraham”, yet he fully believes God will answer him. Twice the Bible records he “bowed low and worshiped the Lord.”

As he succeeds in finding Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, he again, acknowledges the God of his master by saying, “Praise the Lord, the God of my master Abraham. The Lord has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.”

Rebekah agrees to come back with him and become Isaac’s wife and the promise of God passes on to Isaac and Rebekah to be fruitful and multiply, so the descendants of Abraham will become like the stars of the heavens and all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

But this servant, this man who stepped in and helped bring about this paramount aspect of God’s promise to Abraham, is never mentioned again. Nowhere is he mentioned or given credit for what he did on Abraham and Isaac’s behalf. Yet, had he not been exceedingly loyal and faithful, the promise given to Abraham could have ended at this point.

He had no notoriety, no fame, no platform, and was not mentioned by his name. The oath he took, the long journey, the success of his mission…none of it was about him. He did none of it for himself. Even his prayers were not about himself…they were for his master, his master’s son and for us — the descendants of Abraham. He acted from a heart of great servanthood.

This unknown servant reminds me of the greatest servant who would journey from heaven to earth, to embrace and fulfill one mission…the saving of mankind.

“I did not come to be served, but to serve…”   Jesus



Queen of Denmark

“We went to London to see the Queen!”

No, we didn’t!

We went to Denmark to see our friends and found ourselves in Copenhagen on their Queen’s 75th Birthday.

After deciding to attend the Queen’s Parade, our friend, Synnove, smoothly led us through the maze of trains, buses, bikes, and the masses walking toward the Queen’s Palace. Squeezing through the crowd we positioned ourselves close to the street where her horse-drawn carriage would pass.

Standing among the Danish people, we were drawn to the excitement in their voices. Although we couldn’t understand their conversations, their animated voices and faces revealed their anticipation. Almost everyone held a small Danish flag in their hands, awaiting the moment they would wave them for their Queen. Fathers held their children on their shoulders, mothers rocked their babies in their carriages, while teens and young adults stood on tip-toe or raced to the steps of the Cathedral to position themselves for a glimpse of her. People sat on roofs and balconies along the parade route.

Suddenly, the air was filled with the sound of chiming bells. Simultaneously, the roaring cheers of the people began to roll up the street toward us, much like the wave at a U.S. football game. The scene was blanketed with small red and white Danish flags in continual motion. Cell phones took to the air in the hope of capturing a picture of the Queen. The look on people’s faces was one of absolute celebratory joy!

Being only 5-foot-two, my view was limited and I could not see the Queen as her carriage rolled by. Instead I opted for watching the people around me. Noticing their smiles, their cheering voices and the national pride they exhibited I realized, as an American, I had no frame of reference for this degree of love and admiration for a political figure.

In my lifetime I had seen no one in my country stay in a place of leadership from the time they were born until their death. My heart has only experienced loyalty for short seasons and I have known nothing of what was being demonstrated before me. I was completely fascinated with the spirit of these people who had taken the time to come at noon on a work day and demonstrate their honor for this dearly beloved woman.

As I witnessed the beauty of their love and loyalty, a new realization struck me… I actually could relate to this experience! Thoughts about the Kingdom of God and my King Jesus collided with what I was experiencing. These people were demonstrating the nature of the Kingdom of God.

They were thrilled to give her honor.

They set aside time to pay homage to her. (Some had been there for hours just to catch a glimpse of her.)

They lifted their voices in unison to reveal their love for her.

They waved their banners with unashamed abandon.

They stood as a united people honoring royalty together.

They shared stories/testimonies of their love for her. (We met one middle-aged Danish man who presently lives in Germany, but who told us he comes every year to honor the Queen on her birthday!)

Yes, we went to Denmark and saw the Queen, but the response of the Danish people to their Queen, caused our eyes to be drawn to the Kingdom of God and to our wonderful King Jesus, Whose Kingdom will never end! May we always give Him the Honor He is due!




God Took My Debris

February 9, 2015 — Leave a comment


In my younger years I lived behind invisible but real walls. Somewhere in my youth I noticed how girls talked about other girls and used any vulnerability against them. As a result I made an inward decision not to open my heart to others because, I believed what I shared, could and would be used against me.

At the age of 18, when my older brother died, and my world as I knew it, came shattering down; I added another layer to my already thick wall. The lie “no one understands what I’m going through”, became the separating point between me and everyone else.

After Don and I were married the walls I had created became glaringly apparent. When I was hurt, I retreated behind my wall of “he doesn’t understand anyway” so why talk about it. But, I married a relentless and loving man, whose consistent, verbal affirmation, helped me remove sections of my wall a little at a time. He continually exemplified God’s unconditional love to me, and consequently I gradually began to move out from behind my self-imposed prison.

I remember clearly, the day God’s Spirit prompted me to verbally affirm Don. It was one aspect of my wall I had not yet stepped beyond. My previous experiences clearly warned against this kind of vulnerability. But God, was asking me to lay down the bricks of self-protection, open my heart, and speak my love and affirmation directly to him. When at last I obeyed and complimented Don, an enormous sense of love and admiration exploded inside. Like the heart of The Grinch, my heart finally expanded and I felt a deeper love than ever before!

Our marriage took on a whole new level of love and respect. Our communication deepened when I began to verbalize to him my admiration for his talents, his loving acts of kindness and service, his faithfulness at his work, his outgoing nature, his strength to stand in the face of trials, and so much more.

Once I stepped beyond my comfort zone, the walls crumbled, as God took the debris and built instead, a firm foundation upon which our marriage stands today.

I Peter 3:2    Amplified Bible

“When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence (for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him – to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband.”

pic for my blog

Writing holds the power to be understood and to understand. Together, my son and I discovered the healing power of writing as we worked our way through a season of struggle and misunderstanding. The rest of our story is over on Claire DeBoer’s blog, The Gift of Writing