Make It Memorable!

More on this later but our Make It Memorable event was one of the coolest things we’ve done as The STORY Church. We got out of the building on a Sunday morning and I’m glad we did. We brought out some old cars for the residents and staff at Founders Plaza Nursing & Rehab. There were some great conversations, quite a few polaroids and with 50’s/60’s music playing in the background…a lot of smiles. #liveabetterSTORY To those who brought cars or who came out from our church – YOU ROCK!

30-second Encouragement

What a powerful thing to desire for someone. For the Lord to direct the deepest part of them to the type of relentless love that will never give up. From my time in the scriptures today. – Ray

The Book Ruth

Is the Lord able to bring good from bad? Naomi lost her husband and 2 sons. This helped lead to Obed being born, father of Jesse who was the Father of King David. Oh yeah, this lineage also led to Jesus. So…yes. From my time in the scriptures today. – Ray #foryourSTORY


In late November I placed my Nativity set out on my entry table. I decided to leave the cross that normally sits there, behind Mary, Joseph and the manger with baby Jesus. You may ask why I would place the cross behind the Nativity? They both are reminders. The Nativity reminds me of His humble birth and that He came from Heaven to earth to show all people the way to God and His love for them. It reminds me to bow before Him as the Savior and King just as the shepherds and Wise Men did. I remember the virgin birth and that Jesus is God in the flesh. He is Lord of Lords, the Son of God, Emmanuel, God with us. 

The Nativity reminds me of the little village of Bethlehem where He was born and to remember that Jesus is the focus of Christmas. Bethlehem was overcrowded with travelers who came because the Roman government required a census. Many political and religious leaders failed to notice His birth or acknowledge that He is truly the Son of God. Political leaders such as ruthless King Herod tried to kill Jesus and had all the little ones – 2 years and under slaughtered out of fear that a new king would arise and replace him. The religious leaders were no better. They knew the ancient prophesies of a King to be born of a virgin. They even knew He’d be born in Bethlehem, yet totally missed His birth. The little baby placed in a manger threatened to upend the lives of those in power.  They were afraid and so they chose to crucify Him.  The cross reminds me of His sacrifice. His mission from His lowly birth to the cross was His purpose. He left Heaven to give eternal life to all those who seek Him for forgiveness of their sins. During the time of Christ, the cross symbolized a horrible death by crucifixion reserved for criminals, thieves and insurrectionists, unlike the decorative one I have on my entry table.

 So, you see I placed the cross there just behind the Nativity to remind me of God’s great love. Along with the shepherds, angels and Wise Men, it reminds me to worship Jesus who came for me. He paid the dearest price with His death to open Heaven for you and me. He was the only One who could! I celebrate His birth at Christmas, but His story isn’t complete without the cross.  Praise God, His story doesn’t end at the cross. He rose victorious over death so that we have a relationship with God and eternal life. 

God chose to send His Son and few welcomed the newborn king that night.  This Christmas I hope you will welcome Him into your celebration.  Remember, worship, and adore Him as Christ the Lord! 

Enjoy this short video!

Waiting by Cathy Morphew


My favorite picture on a Christmas card isn’t one of the many beautiful nativity depictions. It’s not the angels or the shepherds or even the Wise Men. It’s not the snowy Christmas scenes or famous artist’s painting of Mary and the baby, Jesus. My all-time favorite is of Simeon holding the Christ child by the artist Ron Dicianni. He is holding the baby in his arms with his face toward Heaven and praising God for the long-awaited answer to his prayers to see the Messiah in his lifetime.  

Luke 2:25-35 tells us the story – “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” 33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Simeon and many others were waiting for a Messiah, a deliverer to come. The birth of a Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. The prophecies are throughout the O.T. and many are printed on our Christmas cards. I only imagine the joy he experienced of seeing the answer to his prayers. Simeon was old, and had been expectantly waiting all his life to see this! 

So, what are you waiting for God to do for you? What prayers or promise are you waiting for God to answer? I have my list and I want desperately for God to answer them soon. I have to entrust the timing and answers to God and believe as Simeon did, that our faithful, compassionate God will answer in His perfect timing. Most importantly, like Simeon, we can focus on the living Christ who was born to save us from our sins, give us new life and hope for now and life everlasting. And we can have joy and expectantly wait, like little children do for Christmas day! We can share the joy of this season and the wonder and beauty of knowing Jesus, our Savior and Messiah. We can share the joy that our God is faithful to fulfill all His promises to us, too! We can share in the joy as we gather to worship and sing, not a baby, but the risen Christ, our King. And like Simeon we are waiting, waiting for Christ’s return. We are waiting with Joy because Jesus will return as He has promised just as He left. We are waiting! 

At the bottom is a link to a wonderful Christmas album sent by DTS featuring Blaine Larsen. He is a graduate of DTS and is a songwriter, as well, and has written for artists such as George Strait. To get a taste of it, listen to this song that ties in to what I’ve written about today.

Here is the whole album: Click here for the whole album.


I woke up with a song on my mind. The song was “We Shall Behold Him.” It’s a beautiful song but I haven’t thought of or heard it for years. It’s not unusual for me to wake up with a song on my mind. I’ve had it happen more often than not. The message and words of that song stayed with me all day. If you’ve never heard the song or haven’t in a long time, then I encourage you to listen. I believe it was God’s invitation to take some time to just listen and reflect on Him. 
As I thought about the words, I was reminded of seeing- beholding Jesus. I thought of how often the Scriptures mention seeing God, though not actually seeing Him with physical eyes. David, the Psalmist, reminds us to seek His face, to sit in His Presence.  In Psalm 27: 8 David tells us, ‘My heart says of you, “Seek his face!’ Your faceLord, I will seek.” God invites us to spend time daily in His presence.  
Since we can’t actually see Him with our eyes, we use our spiritual eyes, our faith, through prayer and Scripture to “See” Jesus and who He is. The verses of Jeremiah 29:12-13 tell us, “12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God, the Heavenly Father, wants us to come to Him, to seek Him and to have a close relationship with Him.
If we are paying attention, we can see His activity in our lives and we can even see prayers answered. Still, He wants us to seek Him not for what He can do but because of Who He is. We don’t know everything about Him just as we don’t know most people unless we spend time with them. I’m challenged to take a few extra minutes to read the Scriptures and pray. I get the most from meditating on to understand and apply what I’ve just read. Journaling helps me put my thoughts into written words. I don’t journal every day. but just this morning went back and was looking over my journal. I found many prayers He’s faithfully answered this last year. Some I’m still praying about.
It is God who gives us spiritual eyes to see Him. For now, I will only see Him this way but one day I’m promised I’ll see Him face to face.  And when I see Him face to face, I’ll be changed- I’ll be like Him. I love the stories of Jesus opening the eyes of the blind man and the first face that he sees is Jesus. Like the blind man who Jesus heals and gives sight I’ll see His face for the first time. For now, I see, behold Him in prayer, praise and Scripture. His invitation is open to all who will call upon Him. His invitation to “Behold” Him is open to you, too! 

icy pool

Last winter we had a rare occurrence. We had 72 hours of temps below 20 degrees which caused a pipe on the pool’s equipment to freeze and burst. It was creating a lovely frozen fountain encasing the whole system. The pool guy said he could fix it when it warmed up, but the pool couldn’t run until it thawed out.  That meant the pool would freeze over and could bust the pool. It was my duty to bust the layer of ice that formed on the pool’s surface. Okay, I could do that! 

It was bitterly cold the next morning when I bundled up in winter garb. I had that brief caution light go off in my head right before the phone slipped out of my hand- right into the water. My 1st dumb decision was taking my cell phone with me.  The phone couldn’t just slide over the ice and stay above water. Oh no, it sunk! I tried several times to retrieve it but nothing worked. I couldn’t reach it from the side of the pool. The 2nd dumb thought -I’d get in the pool! 3rd bad decision, I went in with clothes, coat, shoes and all.  While standing in the pool, numb legs and freezing, I realized my arms were not long enough to reach the phone. I’d have to get my head wet. That’s when I made the decision – it was me or the phone! I chose me!  No bobbing for the phone. The phone would have to die! I realized how foolish this fishing for the phone was when I got out, couldn’t feel my legs and feet very well and my shoes iced up. I slid around on the pavement! I was dripping wet and freezing. This was the dumbest risk ever, I told myself. I thawed out slowly in a warm shower. The phone died – I lived!  It then dawned on me that my last decision could have been my last decision! When I told my youngest son – he had a good laugh. He asked why I got in the pool with all my clothes on? I sure wasn’t going to go in with my swimsuit in 17degree weather and I don’t have a wet suit! My friends laughed when I told them my fiasco and shook their heads. Yes, it was comical and a dumb risk but it could have been much worse. 

The phone wasn’t worth the risk. It wasn’t a very expensive phone, however the idea of having no way to call or connect prompted me to take the foolish risk. What are you willing to risk your life for? I dare say most of us take risks all the time. Driving distracted by our phones and texting is a dangerous, deadly risk but this post isn’t about phones. If that warning light goes off in your head, heed the warning. What about that innocent looking flirting or secret social media chat room or that website that is hard to resist? No one will know, right? Our communication with God will suffer when we make risky moral choices. 

Jesus often asked difficult, profound questions. In Matthew 16:26 He says, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”  

There is Someone worth giving our life to and for. In fact, Jesus thought you and I were worth giving up His life for us even “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. 

Jesus wants us to give Him our lives – our all to Him. My silly phone wasn’t worth the risk I took!  Most “things” aren’t worth your life. Jesus thought you and I were worth giving His life to reconcile us to God and have an eternal relationship with Him. What are you risking and willing to lose or exchange for your life?  For your soul? 

Our pastor says, “This song is going to bring up strong emotions in some of you”. No truer words were ever spoken! I’m listening to “Remember Me” by Mark Schulz. I am unprepared. Where are tissues when I need them? I’m trying to stem the tidal wave of sobs rising up in my throat. I stifle them back, swallow hard as silent tears burst out in a flood. I know my shoulders shudder but it’s no use! 

 I’m envisioning faces of those who’ve loved me, prayed for me and given me a part of their lives. They’ve left their indelible imprints on my life. It’s a parade of faces.  I see my godly maternal grandmother up very early praying and reading God’s Word. I see my own dear mother’s face and the face of my husband’s grandmother. I see my mentor who taught me so much, the father figures that march through my mind and I can’t stop the cascade of tears and memories. All my makeup is washed away but I don’t care. Bittersweet memories mingle with my salty tears. I remember teachers and friends at church through the years that God brought in my life at just the right time. I remember my sisters and my best friends who speak truth to me and have loved me in spite of it all. I think of my precious family and husband. I am overcome with thankfulness. The prayers of those gone before me live on through me and my family. 

My heart is so full of love, gratitude and wonder that God in His grace put them in my life. I am thankful, thankful that they loved me well, even when I wasn’t lovable, when I was difficult or even when I was ungrateful! One song, just one song started all of this!  Maybe there are people who’ve loved you well. I hope you will remember them and give thanks to God for His unfaltering, unfailing love for you expressed through your own parade of people!  Send a card, a note, an email today if you are fortunate enough to still be able to!  Make a lunch date, say the important words you need to say. Better yet, write them out. Whatever you do- don’t wait.  Tell them how important and what a blessing they are to you. Listen to this song and let God remind you of all He’s done and the people He’s blessed you with.  If you don’t have a group of people who love you and pray for you now, pray and ask God to help you find a church where you can experience this kind of love. Listen to the song and get your tissues ready! 

No more goodbyes 3.001

Last weekend we gathered around our dining table with a group of dear friends. We’re all long-time friends and have a great time laughing and sharing together. When our talk turned to serious matters it was hard to not sense the gravity of the subject. Three families are dealing with aging parents and caregiving. The other two are dealing with their own chronic health illnesses and caregiving. Quiet pauses were followed by somber expressions all around. These are things most of us would rather avoid discussing until they’re staring us in the face. After all, we are all touched by death and it is inevitable for us all. Serious illness magnifies the need to discuss hard topics. Our conversations brought perspective to the mortality we all face. Now, saying “goodbye” has taken on a new, weightier meaning. 

This week I heard a Jewish speaker mention that this is the week of Feast of Tabernacles. Jews observe this by building a simple and temporary structure or shelter, a sukkot.  Jesus also celebrated this tradition. Observers of the tradition eat their meals in it and some also sleep in it.  It sounds a little like a tent to me.  I can’t adequately explain all the wonderful significance of it but you can research further if you’d like with the link I’ve copied below*.  The Apostle Paul, when relating that Jesus by his death and resurrection has overcome death likens the mortal body to a tent.  In 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, he explains, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

Our earthly bodies were never meant to last forever and some of us are daily reminded of it! Discussing death can seem morbid but as believers we have this hope and assurance from God’s word.

 I Corinthians 4:16 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer-self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  As we age, this passage becomes part of our experience. 

Jesus was sent by God to live among us and gives all believers the Holy Spirit as a guarantee, a deposit, that we will live forever with the Lord in Heaven.  Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” 

This intricate human body that God gave us is amazing but is our temporary home. The Scriptures assure us that when we leave this body, when we die, we will go directly into God’s presence (1 Corinthians 5:8). Someday we will have glorified bodies like Jesus’ resurrection body. And God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”(Rev. 21:4) There will be no more “Goodbyes”. 

I look forward to the reunion of all those who have gone on before me. We are to – “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) This is our hope!   1 Corinthians 15:54-57 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”[I56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

*For further study click here: Sukkot: Feast of Tabernacle

71d19d5f00153c09b53b9123913c2af9The cool Fall weather was too inviting to stay inside so my friend and I sat down under the shade of a large oak tree. We hadn’t had the chance to pray together for a while. Our conversations often turn to our children, our spouses and our own struggles before we pray. It’s such comfort to share life’s joys and sorrows with a close friend. We have the privilege to present our requests to God who moves hearts and minds in ways we can’t even imagine.  I appreciate my friend’s faithful private prayers for me and she knows I pray for her, too.

This Fall day was no different than the many times that span some 20+ years of history we have together as prayer partners. We started meeting each week back then with another friend to pray for our children and their schools. One particular day stands out in my memory. I had arrived to our meeting feeling paralyzed with fear over a situation that was totally beyond my control. My two friends prayed with me and I could sense the peace envelope me. I still had to face the same situation- nothing had changed except me.  Anxiety and fear were replaced with confidence knowing God was working on my behalf and my friends loved me enough to prayer fervently for me. If you’ve never prayed with another person you are missing out on a huge blessing. We shouldn’t neglect or underestimate the power of praying privately but there is power in believers praying together.  Jesus emphasized this when He told us in Matthew 18:19-20: “19 Again I say to you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This doesn’t mean all our prayers are answered, “Yes”, but when He tells us He’s there in the midst of us we can trust Him at His word. 

Yesterday, I listened to my friend’s concerns and she listened to mine.  We often end our time together by encouraging each other with Scripture.  We talked about Philippians 4: 6-7. Although it’s a familiar passage, I still need to be reminded. It says, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  These scriptures outline how to pray and the Lord assures us that His peace will guard our hearts and minds. I’ve seen God faithfully work on my behalf and for my friend- time and time again. I know He is a God of His Word! The world seeks to buy the kind of peace that only God can give us as we seek Him in prayer.

Today another dear friend who’s prayed with and for me called. She needed an important appointment to be scheduled asap. We encouraged each other and then prayed together. We prayed that God would make it happen before the end of today then we hung up.  She immediately called me back and said that they had called to schedule the appointment while we were talking! It doesn’t always happen that quickly but we praise God it did today! 

I hope you have a friend you can trust to pray with and for you. God knows what we need even before we ask. If you don’t have a person you feel you could trust to pray with you then ask God to send someone. You may be the answer to someone’s prayer who needs you, too!