Shoes of peace - God's peace really does pass understanding, especially when problems press in on us. If only we had to deal with just one problem at a time, but they are groupies.


In just the past two days my riding mower has stopped working (but the grass hasn't stopped growing).


The laundry tub in the basement that our washing machine dumps into has overflowed twice. A plumber came and checked the OLD pump and charged me $103 to say the pump is okay. But then why did it not pump out the water? I can't help but wonder if this is a disaster waiting to happen.


My dishwasher isn't working. It turns on but isn't filling with water. Go figure. But then my son-in-law discovered it was leaking into the basement! I had the plumber here - again. He fixed the leak but not the dishwasher. The motor is burned out. I'm grateful I had a $50 coupon (he told me to save it for the next time!) and that he also gave us a veteran's discount. Still, I didn't anticipate a $600 bill plus the cost of a new dishwasher. But I'm grateful that today was the last day of a sale that saved me $150.


Amazingly, His peace is also sustaining me through multiple visits to our vet. Our labradoodle has been acting really strange. Come to find out she is having a pseudo pregnancy. Ultrasound showed no puppies, but she has milk! I'm still waiting to hear from the vet about the results of her bloodwork and what her "moderately elevated liver enzymes" means and how we will treat it. Emmy is the most strong-willed, stubborn, and difficult dog we've had in 58 years, but I love her dearly.



Shield of faith - The opening day of the Colorado conference last August my husband fell. My daughter discovered him unconscious on the bedroom floor. He spent five days in the hospital. Since then, a MRI and appointments with a neurologist and a neuropsychologist have confirmed what I suspected. He has moderate dementia. It's not Alzheimer's but still, having cared for my mother who had multi-infarct dementia, I know the days ahead aren't going to be easy. I'm going to need to re-read For Better or Worse, the devotional book I compiled many years ago. Paul and I will be married 59 years in November. It's hard to be patient when he gets confused and to see him shuffling around the house like an old man. He's going to PT twice a week but not doing the exercises between visits that would help.


Back in August I almost fell twice following the nurse who wheeled Paul out of the hospital. I pulled something in my back that has not gotten better. About a month ago I had a MRI and learned that I have two bulging discs in my back that are pressing on a nerve. I had an injection two weeks ago. So far I'm not seeing much improvement. It doesn't help that I've also got pain in both of my knees that are bone-on-bone. Friday, I get an injection in both knees. What a way to become "holey."


The bottom line - it's not easy to grow old. (I turned 77 in January.) It's hard not to be able to do the things I've always taken for granted. And I really want to be able to work in my garden! Still, in faith I'm clinging to His promise that "Even in old age [I] will still produce fruit; [I] will remain vital and green" (Psalm 92:14 NLT).


For the doubts, worries, fears that you struggle with, remember faith is a gift. Remember too that we do not have a testimony without the test. As one of my mentors told me years ago, problems are wonderful grist for the writer's mill.



Helmet of salvation - For many years I believed the evil one's lie that I was not good enough, smart enough, educated enough to serve the Lord. I was ashamed that I'm just a high school graduate. Some days I still struggle - especially with my smart phone that can make me feel really dumb. But God wants me to put on the helmet of salvation to protect my thought life.


Each morning I need to remember to thank Him that I do not need to be bound by old habits and thinking patterns. Instead, I need to ask Him to continue His work of transforming me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2) and giving me the "thoughts and mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16).



Sword of the Spirit - God's Word is the Truth we need to wield when the evil one attacks. Some days we may need to speak His Word out loud. And friends, let's be careful to bury His Word in our heart for the day may come, as it has in other nations, that it will be a crime to own a Bible.



Finally, we need to pray all the time. Even when it seems like God is saying "no" or "wait," we can rest in the fact that He knows the plans he has for us. "They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11 TLB).


I am convinced that He is going to do Ephesians 3:20 things through this year's conference. Remember, it's virtual. And even if you're not free for all or even part of May 11-14, over 100 hours of videos will be available for THREE MONTHS after the conference at NO additional charge. It's an incredible learning opportunity. Partial scholarships are still available as well as time payments if needed.


I'm praying you will not miss this opportunity to grow your skills "to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives."