Christmas Commandments

Recently I came across a devotional that I’ve had for twenty years.  It’s comprised of different writings from Calvary Chapel Pastors.  I want to share one with you from Brian Bell, Senior Pastor Calvary Chapel Murrieta, Murrieta, California.  This was the first church I attended after dedicating my life to Jesus Christ.  I remember taking Sommer with me and leaving her in the nursery.  We could hear her screaming in the sanctuary.  I loved the worship time and the teaching lifted my soul.  Five months later we moved to Gurene, IL and attended another Calvary Chapel this time in Lake Villa, IL.  Sommer didn’t scream anymore in the nursery, thankfully.

Here is what Pastor Brian wrote about Christmas:


The 10 Christmas Commandments:

  1. Though shalt not leave “Christ” out of Christmas, making it “Xmas.” To some, “X” is unknown.
  2. Thou shalt prepare thy soul for Christmas. Spend not so much on gifts that thy soul is forgotten.
  3. Thou shalt not let Santa Claus replace Christ, Thus robbing the day of its spiritual reality.
  4. Thou shalt not burden the shop girl, the mailman, and the merchant with complaints and demands.
  5. Thou shalt give thyself with thy gift. This will increase its value a hundred-fold, and he who receiveth it shall treasure it forever.
  6. Thou shalt not value gifts received by their cost. Even the least expensive may signify love, and that is more priceless than silver and gold.
  7. Thou shalt not neglect the needy. Share thy blessings with many who will go hungry and cold unless thou are generous.
  8. Thou shalt not neglect thy church. Its services highlight the true meaning of the season.
  9. Thou shalt be as a little child. Not until thou has become in spirit as a little one are thou ready to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
  10. Thou shalt give thy heart to Christ. Let Him be at the top of thy Christmas list.


Anyone keeping these commandments is sure to have a blessed Christmas.


I am Out Of the Boat

After spending the day water skiing we would often go to a cove on the lake and jump into the lake with our life jackets on and just free float.  It is a wonderful feeling to be so peaceful on the water.

In Matthew 14:23-33 we read about the disciples going out in their boat while Jesus went up the mountainside by himself.  He later joined the disciples.  But by the time he joined them they were away from the shore.  Jesus didn’t take a boat out to meet them instead he walked out to greet them.  He was walking on the water.  This terrified the men because they thought they were seeing a ghost.  But it was Jesus in the flesh.  How could this be to them Jesus was a man and not much more.  Peter was not short-sighted he understood that Jesus was the Messiah and he asked Jesus to call to him.

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

I’ve been like Peter.  I have gotten out of the boat with all the trust I could have only to have a storm wind come up and I lose my trust.  I start to get overwhelmed with my circumstances and lose focus that Jesus is the only life preserver I need to survive this broken unfair world.

Notice though, Peter was not left to his own lack of faith Jesus reached out to him.  Catch that…Jesus reached out to him.  Sure he rebuked Peter’s wavering faith but first Jesus reached out to him.  I think that is a beautiful image.  As a mom, I’ve done that.  I remember working with our girls and their swimming technique.   I would hold them then push them away from me hoping they would use the skills they were learning.  At first, they would be flailing around.  I’d remind them to use their arms.  I would pluck them out of the water is they failed to stay calm.

“Why don’t you use your arms and kick your legs,” I asked.  I reassured them I would not let anything bad happen to them they only needed to trust.  Trust me and trust what they had been taught.

It’s easy to sit in the boat.  It’s safe there.  However, if we want to really experience God’s faithfulness we must get out of the boat.  God will reach for us He won’t let us sink. He will remind us who we are meant to be.  So get out of the boat and experience God fearlessly.

His Beloved!




I did something a couple of weeks ago and I am starting to regret it.  I think.

I bought a new bathroom scale.  A digital glow in the dark bathroom scale and I am miserable about it.

The scale within itself is not a bad thing it’s more about what I’ve turned the thing into…an idol.

It all started when my sweet husband came home from the gym frustrated.  He has been working to live healthier.  No sweets, no fast food and hitting the gym.  Because of his hard work and not seeing the scale reflect his commitment I made an executive decision and ordered a new bathroom scale.  I knew it was a bad idea when I clicked on the “buy” icon on my Amazon account but I wanted him to see his hard work and dedication was working.

You see a bathroom scale for someone else in my family is no big deal but to me, it is an enemy.  The first time I stepped on it I was hooked.  It was no longer a helpful motivator for my husband it became an obsession for me.  I  started weighing myself in the middle of the night.  Three times a day. After I ate a sweet or a carbohydrate.  I’ve turned into a crazy person.  Who weighs themselves in the middle of the night?  Right, a crazy person.

In Colossians, the bible tells us to set our minds on things above, not earthly things. I can’t set my mind on things above when my thoughts are stuck on what a bathroom scale reads.  I am stuck in idolatry. It dictates what I eat, how I eat when I eat or if I eat.

Before I was in the hospital with pneumonia I worked with a trainer twice a week and worked out at home three days a week and I ate almost anything I wanted.  I used my workout time as talking time with God.  Walking on the treadmill or riding a stationary bike motivates me to have chats with God.  Running turns me into a beggar.  “Please God don’t let me trip and do a George Jettson in front of all ten of these people.”

As I rest and recover vigorous exercise is not on the calendar.  Don’t get me wrong, my mind tells me to get up and go-go-go.  My body tells me “I don’t think so!”  This is just a season of my life,  thankfully it’s not a lifetime.

Being consumed by what a bathroom sclae reads is not in step with what God commands me to do.

Philippians 4:8 New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

These are not gentle little suggestions these are commands.  It’s training.  Life changing. If my thinking does not line up with God’s ways then I am lost in my own self-centeredness.  My obsession.  My idolatry.  This does not please God.  I am His.  I am His beloved.  I am a child of God.  He loves me.  My family loves.  My dear friends love me.  I don’t need to find a false sense of love from a digital glow in the dark bathroom scale.

I think I’ll put it in the closet.

As always,


Lost and Found




Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When we experience times in our lives when we have fear and are dismayed, either by circumstances or things we’ve brought on ourselves, God says don’t fear, “for I am with you” so “do not be dismayed” for His is our God.  He is the one Who will strengthen you when you are weak and when you feel like falling, He will “uphold you with [His] righteous right hand.”  The right hand is the hand of authority and strength so it’s no coincidence that Isaiah mentions God’s right hand.


It’s a Sommer Thing

I did a “Sommer” thing today.  I rescued a beetle that had fallen out of an Oak tree onto my shoulder and landed on it’s back with its legs wiggling around.  Normally, I would have screeched like a cat that is having its tail yanged but, today I just stood there looking at the bug on it’s back.  I decided to flip it back over with my shoe into the grass and set it free.  No beetle stomping for me today. The keyword is “today.”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Matthew 22:36-39

This bible verse is how Sommer lived her life and that included critters from bugs to dogs. She loved and loved to be loved.  I strive to be more like her and that means I’m striving to be more like Christ as I grieve the death of our Sommer.  She rescued any type of bug, gecko, salamander even cockroaches she found.  She hated for me to stamp on one of God’s little neighbors.

Can’t you just see Jesus sitting under a tree and a bug crawling up his toe? The bible does not tell us if Christ smashed a bug even a deadly bug. But just reading and understanding His character He would not have done a thing just let the bug do its job just as He was doing His.  He walked this earth and spread the truth of the gospel walking to and from many places.  Imagine all the creatures Jesus must have seen as He journeyed the lands and seas. He could name them all because He created them with His Father.

I used to call Sommer my “Little Albert Schweitzer.”  Albert decided to go to Africa as a medical missionary and while he was working in his tent he allowed ants to shuttle up the leg of his work table, across his papers and down the opposite leg doing their work while he did his.  He was known to move his papers so those ants could finish their job.

Sommer was a unique person.  As I said she loved and loved to be loved.  She even loved those few people who did not understand her uniqueness.

I miss Sommer today.  I miss her sweet smile and loving heart.  I am proud to be the momma of three beautiful, intelligent, and talented God loving daughters.  I miss my Sommer today and the best way to honor her today was to love like Jesus loved and not step on the beetle but let the beetle the best beetle God created it to be and I’ll work on being the best Christian woman God intended for me to be.

It’s a “Sommer” thing.

For Christ Alone,




I have tried to write this post for many days and I just could not get the words to come out in a way that I believed would be acceptable.  Today, after much prayer and quiet time, I have the courage to write this post.

Yes, I said courage.  It takes courage to tell the truth and I made a promise to myself and to you that I would always be honest in my writing of this blog.  I also made a commitment to myself that I would not be political or write about what’s in the news.

Today I believe God wants me to tell the truth about the death of a dear friend’s brother because it might save one life.  It’s not an easy subject to approach and I believe that is part of her grief. The subject is viewed in “proper” society as taboo but it is happening every day in our county, our cities, and towns and even in our communities.

Drug overdose.

My friend’s name is Anne and she has given me permission to talk about this with you all.  Anne’s baby brother was in his 30’s and had had an addiction to drugs for some time before his untimely, tragic death.  He apparently had anxiety and used marijuana to calm himself.  Like most users of maijuana, he branched out or was coaxed into trying Heroin.  An illicit drug.  However, he was scheduled for a court date for a drug test and was nervous about the appointment.  Someone told him that marijuana stays in the body for days and would show up in a hair sample.  Heroin was suggested to him and he went looking for it but was not dealing with the source he knew and bought what was supposed to be heroin but turned out to be fentanyl, an illicitly manufactured drug.

I am crying now.

According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC):

Drug overdoses killed 63,632 Americans in 2016. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths (66%) involved a prescription or illicit opioid. Overdose deaths increased in all categories of drugs examined for men and women, people ages 15 and older, all races and ethnicities, and across all levels of urbanization.

CDC’s new analysis confirms that recent increases in drug overdose deaths are driven by continued sharp increases in deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, such as illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF).

“No area of the United States is exempt from this epidemic—we all know a friend, family member, or loved one devastated by opioids,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D.

The hardest thing to accept is not the fact Anne’s brother was addicted to drugs but that someone deliberately sold him fentanyl and that is a hard pill to swallow and a bitter reality.

Let’s take a step back and flip off our shoes and put on one of Anne’s.  She is a loving, Godly woman who is suffering and grieving the loss of her baby brother in a most tragic way.  Some people might think “Well what do you expect when you deal with drugs.”  If you think that then shame on you.  An addiction is just that an addiction.  It comes in many forms and anyone one of us, though we maybe Children of God, can fall into some sin against our bodies and our Lord.

Our daughter died of unknown causes at the tender age of 22.  Some feel my grief is 10 times worse than someone else’s grief and I would have to say it is and it is not.  You see when someone you love and cherish dies suddenly you are in shock and can be overrun with grief. It may not matter how they died you just know they are no longer an arm’s length away.  A phone call away.  I struggled with not having Sommer in our home.  We see her face everywhere.  Her special imprints on our lives are still very much alive and it hurts.  It really hurts.  It will always hurt sometimes a little and other times a lot.  But that is the cycle of death and grief.

God tells us:

Romans 5:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces [a]perseverance; and perseverance, [b]character; and character, hope.

If I were sitting across from my sweet friend right now I would take her hand and tell her:

I love you.

I care.

I am here for you.

You are not alone.

You are important to God.

Your grief is real.

Cry until you have no more tears.

Scream until you can not speak.

Hold your family closer.

Don’t give in to despair, as I have done.

Laugh out loud.

And ask God to relieve your burdens that come with grief.

Anne’s brother was not a bad man.  He was a good man who got lost in a world most of us can’t even imagine.  The way he died is a tragedy but we can learn from it. And we need to show great compassion for those we know who have lost someone they love in this same manner.  Because compassion heals wounds.

In Christ Alone,




Be Stil And Know Him

Being still before the Lord does not always feel comfortable.  As I am in my rest and recovery stage I have had many moments to be quiet before the Lord.  On the most part, it’s a sweet exchange of love and devotion. However, today while reading 1 John 2 my heart was pricked by verse 9.

“Anyone who claimes to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.”

1 John 2:9

I have studied 1 John before and breezed right past this verse thinking, “I am sure glad I don’t hate anyone especially a sister or brother in the Lord.” But today a spiritual light bulb went on.

Hate derives from a strong dislike or ill will toward persons or things. As an emotional attitude, a person may oppose, detest, or despise contact with a thing or a person. Love and hatred often stand opposed. Wisdom says, there is “a time to love and a time to hate” ( Eccl 3:8 ). In the biblical record, every being may express or experience hate.

It’s hard to admit this let alone write about it but I promised I would always be honest with you so hang on and we’ll all see what God wants me to say.

We have many examples in the bible of what God hates we should hate as well.

The Bible says that God hates religiosity ( Isa 1:14 ; Amos 5:21 ), hypocrisy and lies ( Zec 8:17 ), wrongdoing ( Isa 61:8 ); divorce ( Mal 2:16 ), violence ( Mal 2:16 ), idolatrous practices ( Hosea 9:15 ), and the way the prophets are treated ( Jer 44:4 ). The theology underlying God’s hatred rests upon two essential qualities of God: holiness and justice. As a divine being with standards, God hates anything that despises, detests, or disregards those standards. In return, people hate God ( Psalm 139:21-22 ). Humanity may choose to follow in God’s path in hating anything that hates the Lord or his standards ( Psalm 139:22 ).

God hates evil but does that mean He hates the one who does the evil?  Is it possible to hate the sin but love the sinner?  I think it is but is it that easy?  It should be as a follower of Jesus but that is not always the case.

We hold grudges, a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury. Holding on to past transgressions does nothing to the person whom we feel have wrong us in some way.  The person who rejected us.  The one who gossiped about us, physically hurt us, emotionally, psychologically, in any way we have been hurt God cares about us.

At times the mention of the person’s name can raise a fire inside of us that keeps that hatred alive for days, months and even years.

I learned today that my hated towards people I believe have harmed me in any way…in any way is not being like Christ.  Sure, I can go on hating and yet believing my hatred is justified but is that pleasing God.

When we concentrate on the transgressions we of others we simply overlook our transgressions to others.  We’re short-sighted. We justify our hated or dislike towards others yet fail to see past the end of our own noses and being honest with ourselves.

We are all sinners and only by God’s great grace and mercy are we saved.  If we choose to accept that gift of love.

Mercy is God’s compassion towards us.  He doesn’t give us what we deserve, hell, but restores us to Him and wants a full and honest relationship with Him.  No more holding back my sin.  No more having grudges towards others no matter what that sin is or was.

Today, God revealed my sin in His gentle way He showed me through His word even though I’ve read that passage many times it just now spoke to me. God does that.  That’s what makes Him an awesome God to serve.

Today He released me when I confessed my sin of hate.  That is the victory in Christ. For years I have thought I walked in the light though I held hate in my heart I was in the dark.

But whoever hates His brother is in darkness  and walks around in darkness; and he does not know whr he is going, because the darkness has blinded Him.

1 John 2:10

God brought me out of the dark and shone his light on me while I was still before Him.

When we are still before God He flushes the bad out of us and pumps in the good through His word, a teaching, a friend or His small still voice.  It was a tough realization of mine and at first, it stung but I chose to confess instantly and He instantly gave me victory.  I know that those hate feelings will come back but I have the Holy Spirit in me and He will give me victory one day at a time and draw me closer to Him.

“Be still and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10,

I like to say “Be still and know that I am your God.  He is my God and I am the daughter of the King.