As I prepare for each of my visits to the rehabilitation center I pray for the ministry of God’s love and reconciliation unto Him to provide hope and light to the dear ones staying there.  I never quite know what to expect as each encounter is quite unique.  Sometimes I leave feeling rather unconvinced that the ministry touched anyone at all.  Most of the time it seems that the music touches hearts and that the word of God is understood by at least some.  But oh, I am so thankful for those other, unexpected, beautiful, God ordained appointments; those days when God’s presence is so strong and the response so great.  The day I met *Bryan was one of those days.


I was setting up my equipment for the next hour of ministry through song and guitar when one of the dear women in the activities department approached me with a request.  She pointed out to me a young man in a wheelchair who was in the audience that day, a resident.  His name was Bryan and he was hungry for the things of God and the Bible, she informed me.  She asked me if I would reach out to him before I leave and encourage him.  What focused love and provision that God had arranged this encounter with Bryan this day.  Confirmation is such an inspiration to me in my efforts.  Of course I was eager to speak with him and to share God’s love and comfort.  As I sang and spoke of Jesus and his amazing grace and love, His incredible goodness, I watched Bryan’s countenance respond as the songs seemed to say what was in his heart.  He seemed to hang on every word that spoke of his God.  I met him when the service was over and listened to his testimony.


Bryan shared with me some difficult background and the circumstances that lead to his stay at the rehabilitation center.  I had to strain to hear him as his breathing was labored and dependent on additional oxygen.  He had arrived at the point where the anguish in his heart and brokenness in his life left him wanting to die.  He told me of a powerful dream and in it took place a battle for his life.  He perceived that Jesus was the answer.  Now, after finding life and hope in Jesus, he wanted only to live!  Bryan was thoroughly convinced of God’s existence and His goodness.  He could plainly see the events of his life, looking back, and how they ultimately walked him right into a saving relationship with Jesus.  His testimony had a lot of tragedy woven into it.  Yet he was vibrant with the love of God.  Here was this young man who was clinging to life, who was dependent on machines and a wheelchair and the constant care of the medical staff, speaking words of hope and life to me.  He believed in God’s plan for his life and asked for prayer to walk again, to regain strength to live his whole life and live it well.  He held no hint of bitterness or despair.  God was good and he trusted Him.  This was enough for him to have fullness of joy.


As I drove away that day, my heart was full and I was humbled.  There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that God had set up the appointment between Bryan and me and Him.  I was going to be praying for his healing and for his future ministry to others through his testimony.  I’ve seen Brian only two other times since that first encounter.  Once, we were able to talk and share again.  His heart was moved to ask for prayer for healing and rescue for a woman he’d met there at the center.  He seemed desperate that she be saved and made well.  This confirmed what I already believed to be true about Bryan’s life – that he has a specific ministry in God’s kingdom, as a light to the hurting and lost.


I do not know what became of Bryan’s health or living situation.  He seemed so very frail and weak to me.  These things I observed through my eyes of flesh.  However, this is exactly when God says He is made most strong in us; His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Bryan seemed to understand this fully well.  Maybe I’ll see Bryan again someday on this earth, whole and well, working heartily for the Lord.  Most definitely I’ll see him again someday whole and well in the presence of the Lord.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9



*I have changed the name of the young man in this story to protect his privacy.




My Mother I Didn’t Recognize

Recently, I came to an unexpected and intensified awareness of a beauty I have known my whole life.  I suppose we are all likely guilty of taking our blessings for granted, those beautiful life provisions that we’ve grown used to.  I try to keep appropriate stores of awe and gratitude to guard against such things.  Still, I often mistake the glorious for the simply ordinary.  This particular glimmer of beauty that caught my eye reminded me that often the reason I miss the glorious is because much of the time it shines brightest as it operates within the ordinary.


My youngest son was finishing high school and I knew I would need to put together a grand celebration for him.  I had some experience throwing graduation parties with our two older sons already graduated from high school.  Two down, one to go!  Unfortunately, even when things go as planned, these sorts of events bring enormous amounts of stress on me.  Let’s just say that hospitality is something I would love to be good at, but I fall way short when I focus on the wrong things.  I can prepare plenty of good food, make everything look beautiful and still completely miss what matters.  I try way too hard to impress and to anticipate what I think everyone needs, uncomfortable and insecure the whole time.  Well, my son needed a graduation party even though he said he would rather I didn’t throw him one.  True to the aforementioned confession, he thought a party would stress me out.  So smart and perceptive he is!

This time I would move slowly, intentionally toward what really mattered.  And under no circumstance would I let this party be a burden when it was meant to be a gift.  To say that there was no stress in the planning and preparation would be inaccurate.  But I kept it together.  I felt such relief the evening of the party to be finished with all the planning and preparation!  I found myself watching the kids play and laugh and guests visiting with each other.  These observations sucked me right into the mix and I became one of the guests, completely forgetting what my role as hostess required.  This is when I saw it; I noticed my mom gracefully step into the role I had left vacant.


My mom thinks I am the best hostess!  She sees how much I put into everything; how I try to anticipate every little detail.  I’m sure she perceives that when I insist on taking care of everything, attempting to make it all perfect, I believe that I am serving others.  But I am often making my family dance around the tension I’ve created which isn’t serving them at all.  She always sincerely offers and desires to help out, even knowing that I will strive to have things just so.  She inevitably lets me do my thing.  That’s why on this night I saw a mother I did not recognize.

Maybe she just knew I needed something different this time, this night.  Present, and always a mother to me, she stepped in and took care of the duties that went unattended when I unwittingly deserted my role.  It could have been just a simple act of service in her mind, but to me it was powerful love.  I cannot explain it, as I look for words to describe the impact of her attention to the details that night – making sure the kids were safe on the trampoline, remembering to serve the cake, making the executive decision as to whether or not to make more salad, etc.  It all sounds rather ordinary, but to me it was glorious.  I went to bed that night watching her in my memories of the evening.  My heart welled up with such gratitude and admiration.  I saw her as a beautiful woman, not just as my mom.

To me she is mom, to my dad – wife, to my kids – grandma.  She enthusiastically and gratefully wears these titles and wears them well.  But there is more to who she is.  She is me, wanting to feel valued and to have purpose; she is my sister, who works so hard and is strong and brave and loves well; she is my young nieces, creative and curious and playful; she is my friends, navigating life’s journey with all of its wonder and pain.  I’ve never known her to demand to be understood, but human nature insists on it deep down.  What kind of extraordinary beauty does not exalt itself or demand to be recognized?  The kind that lives a deep abiding faith.  The kind that knows her identity as a daughter of the King. The kind that my mother possesses.


“Charm is deceitful

And beauty is passing,

But a woman who fears the Lord,

She shall be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30