Dark Night of the Soul


Weeping may come in the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – Psalm 30:5 (ESV)

Love doesn’t teach us about itself; it communicates itself to us.

I predicted it was going to be a year of change. Little did I realize what sort of change, nor how subtle it would be, nor how I would be affected. Little by little I notice something wasn’t quite the same. I wasn’t sleeping. I became irritable easily. By balance was off. My digestive system was all out of whack. I had poor concentration. I sensed a foreboding enveloping me.

A trip to doctors with testings and a C.A.T. scan revealed several possibilities for this feeling of being “out of kilter.” However, further testing revealed no major physical concerns to be alarmed about. At least, not for the moment. After the final procedure the specialist laid his hand on my knee and gently said to me in a quiet voice, “You know stress will play havoc on our bodies.” I was given a list of foods with low caloric and metric nutritional values to follow, along with the suggestion to get rid of some stress.

My wonderful friend and prayer partner drove me home from the clinic. Knowing I was still weak from the anesthesia and it would be several hours before my husband would be home from work, she made sure I was going to be okay staying by myself before she returned to her family. I promised her I would go to bed until hubby got home. (God gives us some wonderful angels, doesn’t He?)

I picked up “Joy Comes With the Morning”

Left alone with “woe is me” thoughts, I needed something to take my mind off of myself. So, I thumbed through unread books that have been sitting on the shelf for several months that I had purchased with intentions for use in Stephen Ministry. (Stephen Ministry is a care-giving ministry that supplements pastoral care. The program teaches laypersons, called Stephen Ministers, to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered one-on-one care to people (called care-receivers) who are going through tough times. The one-on-one care continues until the care-receiver feels he/she no longer needs a Stephen Minister, or until professional medical counsel is deemed necessary. A Stephen Minister is not a cure giver…we are care givers.) I picked up “Joy Comes With the Morning,” a little 155 page book chock full of inspirational collections, experiences and wise counsel written by William Kinnaird.

I opened the book and began to read. In the first paragraph of the prologue, Mr. Kinnaird writes:

You’ve probably heard the expression “dark night of the soul,” meaning a time of deep travail when all seems hopeless and useless, when the spirit is broken and to go on seems pointless, too excruciating. We just want to give up and die, even by our on hand if it can’t be accomplished any other way. God’s so-called presence and promises are of no help. We’re too numbed and devastated to be encouraged by them.

He then asks in the following paragraph, “Have you ever had a dark night of the soul?” A few paragraphs down he comments, “I’m sure many of you have gone through your own particular dark night of the soul, whether it be a loss of a child, a serious illness, unemployment, or whatever cruel circumstance of life that brought you despair.”

That’s when I had an “ah-ha” moment.

That’s when I had an “ah-ha” moment. I could finally put a label on what I have been experiencing for the past eight months…a dark night of the soul. However, unlike the author’s comments about God’s so-called presence and promises being of no help, as I look back I can affirm it was God’s presence and promises that sustained me. It was His whispering grace that kept me from accomplishing the end by my own hand.

I didn’t agree with all thoughts and comments made by the author. I responded to what was relevant to my life for the present and let the other comments fall by the wayside for another time. But, the writer of the forward to the book made a comment that I thought especially spoke volumes. Dr. Paul Tourneir said, “Love doesn’t teach us about itself; it communicates itself to us.”

There it was…love…Grace…communicating itself to me, whispering, “Write again. Tell your story. I have someone who needs to hear it.”

I began to feel the rays of sunlight filter through the darkness.

So, just as Mr. Kinnaird shared his story, I will share mine in the days and weeks to come. My prayer is that as you read about my journey through darkness, that you too may find joy with the morning.

Join me next time as I share, “Dusk – The Dark Night Begins.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, the prayer of Psalm 30:2-4 is my prayer also, O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”

Father God, your promises are true. Your love is never-ending. Thank you for those who are willing to share their stories of trials and witness of how their faith in you helped them out of their darkness. Thank you that we may be encouraged through their testimonies. In Christ name, Amen.


Embracing Change

Embracing change is not always easy, even in situations we ask for.

We think we want something and then when we get it we don’t always know what to do with it. We “test the waters” to see how we will adjust to the change. Sometimes we find that our choice wasn’t the right one. Sometimes we just jump in and embrace the change, learning new things about ourselves. We learn more about our strengths and weaknesses as we strengthen our trust in God. At least, that’s how it is with me.

I had a conversation that I wasn’t particularly anxious to have with someone this week. Discussing difficult subjects is not a task I enjoy. However, with prayer and God’s guidance, I jumped in with both feet and embraced the change that I knew had to happen. Both the conversation and the outcome was better than I anticipated.

I’ll be embracing another change in a few minutes. I will be driving my Suzuki Blvd trike on my first long trip. Well, long for me anyway. Crossing the state border is a big deal. I’ve been “testing the waters” with it since December. It’s now time to jump in.

I’ll hold on to the handle bars tightly and this promise from God’s word even tighter…

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I invite you to do the same as you embrace your changes.

Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for guiding us and strengthening us as we embrace changes. In Christ name, amen.

Quick to Listen…Slow to Speak

It is said that when God’s word goes out it does not return void. I have found that to be true. Each time I begin a study, the Scriptures supported in some area of my day or week. It’s as if Grace is saying, “See? My Word is true.”

I was blessed when two friends knelt at the altar with me in prayer today. Each had shared a trial or crisis that had recently occurred in their lives. I had no words of wisdom for them, at least none of my own. However, Grace spoke… not through my words, but actions. Well what did I do, you may ask. I simply offered a listening ear and offer to pray with them. I think that alone gave each of them the comfort to share and receive counsel from each other in a way that I knew I would not be able to do. We sat on the steps of the altar for nearly two hours. Them talking and encouraging each other while I merely listened with an occasional nod of my head or a quiet affirmation of their statements.

Grace reminded me later of these words I had read in the first chapter of James during my early morning study and mediation:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:19-25)

I love these two friends dearly and my heart broke for each of them. I knew that they could glean something from each other’s story and I had to be “quick to listen and slow to speak” this time.

Sometimes, oft times, what our friends need most from us, when they are experiencing troubles, is a listening ear and a compassionate heart.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing your word to mind when we need it. Thank you for our friends who willing to be quick to listen and slow to speak when we need to talk. Above all, thank you for always listening to us. In Christ, amen.

What Trials and Tribulations?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a doubled minded man, unstable in all he does. – James 1:2-8 (NIV


During the season of Lent I followed morning readings of short sentences that challenged the reader to acknowledge and consider surrendering things (behaviors, attitudes, actions, etc.) that hindered one from living with grace in their life.

It seemed that each day, the reading was targeted at an area of something in my life that I had been holding. Each day learned to release a little more. Still I felt empty. I couldn’t hear Grace whispering.

During this same time, I was doing a required Stephen Ministry reading in the book “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas. The book unfolds nine distinct spiritual temperaments…Naturalists, loving God outdoors; Sensates, loving God with the senses; Traditionalists, loving God through ritual and symbol; Ascetics, loving God in solitude and simplicity; Activists, loving God through confrontation; Caregivers, loving God by loving and caring for others; Enthusiasts, loving God with mystery and celebration; Contemplative, loving God through adoration; and Intellectuals, loving God with the mind, digging deeper into scripture, asking questions.

There is a series of questions at the end of each chapter that scores ones strength in each area.
I learned that I have some of all the temperaments, the strongest being Caregiver. I was surprised that the next strongest temperament is Intellectual.

As I sat quietly meditating and praying this morning, I thought “no way” am I an intellectual. But as I reflected back over the past several months of not teaching or participating in a group study, I had to admit I was happiest when I was doing in-depth studying as I prepared lessons. I knew right away that I needed to get back deeper into the Word. I admitted my lackadaisical approach to study since the first of the year. And Grace whispered “read James.” I balked, “are you sure?” Again I heard in the recesses of my heart and mind, “read James.”

I should have read those scriptures several weeks ago. The sadness, hurts and frustrations would have been easier had I heeded the Word. I could have said, “What trials and temptations?!”

Heavenly Father, I have to admit that I don’t find it pure joy when faced with trials. But Father God, I thank you that I am able to persevere through the trials and that you will give wisdom to overcome those trials. In Christ’s name – amen.

Encouragement on an index card

“Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” Proverbs 12:25 (ESV)

Index cards were given out to each student in the class. Their homework exercise was to write one affirmation statement about each name on the card. Sounds easy enough. But, how about the person you just recently met. What do you say? How about the person whom you have developed a friendship?

At the next class, students stood in a circle, cards in hand, and read the statements written one by one; each time facing the person whose name was on the card in front of them. The students being read to, had to respond with a thankful statement. One could see apprehension on the faces of the students. Some students confessed to struggling with the exercise. It caused them to dig deeper and really see the person of whom the statement was being made. As the statements were being read, the student’s faces softened. Their countenance changed. For some, the statements affirmed gifts they didn’t see themselves having. For others, it was an affirmation that they were where God wanted them. The warmth was contagious.

I once had a Sunday School teacher who taught a class about encouragement. I remember her commenting that if one look hard enough, one could find something good about everyone. She lived her teachings as well. She was known as the “license plate” lady in my hometown. So, of course she met just about everyone in that town. One day, I was working in her office when an unkempt gentleman approached the window. Being much younger, I didn’t always keep my tongue the way I should have. After the gentleman was served and left, I made a comment about his appearance. Her comment to me was, “Yes, but didn’t he have beautiful eyes.”

What about you? What do your words and actions say to or about others?

Encouragement card

Dear Heavenly Father, through your Word, we find encouragement. Thank you for the people you place in our lives to share your Word and offer us encouragement, even in the times we don’t know we need them. In Christ name we pray. AMEN

Listening With Love

Listening with love

L – listen with your heart

I – inspire others to do good

S – soothe the broken spirit

T – temper your speech with kind words

E – empathize with others

N – notice and acknowledge kindness shown to you


“And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.” (Mark 4:24 NIV)


Heavenly Father, we don’t always take the time to listen to others as we should. Thank you for listening to us when others do not. Teach us to be more attentive to our family, friends and acquaintances and to listen with our hearts. In Christ name-Amen.



You’re having lunch with coworkers and notice the chocoholic passed over the decadent chocolate lava cake. What gives? Oh yeah. It’s the middle of Lent!

Lent, the period of 40 days that precedes the celebration of Easter. The time Christians recall and renew their commitment to God. A time to acknowledge the ways we have turned away from God in our lives and focus on turning our hearts and minds back toward Him.

Some denominations practice fasting, giving up something pleasurable for 40 days as a sacrifice to God. To others the Lenten season is a time of prayer and surrendering bad habits as a way of turning back towards a life that God wants for us.

The church I attend does not practice the season of Lent. However, it does teach and encourages surrender, prayer and alms-giving as part of our daily walk with Christ, 365 days a year.

The church I work at does practice the season of Lent and has been posting daily reminders of things to reflect on as one surrenders bad habits and attitudes to God.

I have discovered that I have been holding on to way too many attitudes that are not pleasing. Slowly, I’m releasing them. I have a long way to go yet. Healing from hurts and learning to forgive is a hard one. The season of Lent has 26 days remaining. I wonder what other habits and attitudes will be revealed.

However temporary, these changes can help us to appreciate the true abundance in our lives. And perhaps, just perhaps these small positive changes can have a big impact that lasts beyond the 40 days of Lent.

Year 2016 is going to be a year of change; I just know it!

Surrender Your Heart to God

13 Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer,
14 and give up your sins— even those you do in secret.
15 Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. – Job 11:13-15 (CEV)

Heavenly Father, we can never out give the sacrifice you gave for us. Help us to reflect on not only the fasting during this Lenten season, but the changes we can incorporate into our walk with you every day of our lives. In Christ name, amen.





More of His Grace


“More about Jesus I would know, more of His grace to others show; More of His saving fullness see, more of His love, who died for me. More, more about Jesus, More, more about Jesus; More of His saving fullness see, more of His love, who died for me.”

An old time favorite hymn of mine is titled “More about Jesus” written by Eliza Hewitt. It was first published in 1887. It speaks of the major theme of the Christian faith…GRACE.

The word “grace” has numerous definitions.  Google “grace” and it will return over 54,000,000 results. Grace is more than a brief prayer offered up before a meal. Grace can be defined as having or giving favor or goodwill; such as showing kindness, forgiveness, charity, and mercifulness. It can be defined as mercy, clemency or pardon. It’s an unmerited favor one doesn’t deserve it.

One of the lines in that hymn brought to mind a story shared with me by a friend returning from a mission trip and a lesson about grace while there.

It seems one group of youth and adults didn’t understand the purpose of a mission trip and it sounded as if this group had less than servant hearts. The staff was confused by what they had observed and frustrated that they seemed to have had no impact on the attitude or heart of the group.

After listening to their stories the leader of the group said, “Remember, EGR.”  My friend thought, EGR?  She knew EEG, EKG and even EOG’s but EGR… what’s EGR? So she asked. The response was “Extra Grace Required.” The leader was reminding staff that some people and situations require extra Grace.

We all need to practice “EGR”, don’t we? If someone cut’s us off at the traffic light, think “EGR.” If there’s an empty grocery cart in that choice parking space at the grocers, think “EGR.” If our spouse has a bad day and snaps at us unintentionally, think “EGR.” If our child gets frustrated trying to learn a new skill, think “EGR.” The list could go on and on about when we could practice “EGR.”

But wait! That’s a lot of finger pointing. We must remember the old adage…”When you point your finger at someone, four of your fingers are pointing back at you.” Just as we have the opportunity to practice “EGR,” we probably are giving others a reason to practice it with us. Oh, no, not when we roll our eyes at a spouse’s comment; not when we raise our voice at our children before, we allow them to complete their explanation; not when we become impatient with a new cashier; not when…. fill in the blank.

There are many times when our actions don’t reflect the grace that we have received.

Instead of only looking for times to practice “EGR” with others, perhaps we should be hoping others will understand the mistakes we make and send a little EGR our way. God certainly has and does every single day.

I’m thankful for grace.

That old hymn is a reminder to practice “EGR.” Perhaps, just perhaps … This Is Your Song too. I hope so.

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for those times when we behave in an ungracious manner. Help us Lord to be a reflection of Your grace in all that we say and do. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen



Just Another Day

Sometimes we get so bogged down in the rituals of our daily lives that we forget to give thanks for what we think is just another day. We worry about completing tasks. We grumble or complain when interruptions get in the way of our plans. For instance, . . .

I hear water running in the shower. Slowly, I force my eyes open. The clock reads 5:30 a.m. “Ugh,” I groan inwardly, “not already.” I lay in bed a little longer while waiting for my husband to finish dressing and start the coffee. This is our ritual most mornings. Just another day starting out the same old way.

I finally crawl out of bed and shuffle into the kitchen for my first cup of coffee. Still trying to get my eyes to focus, I overflow the cup. I chuckle at myself as it reminds me of a commercial I’ve seen with a lady doing the same thing. She wipes the coffee from the counter into her cup. I try to remember the product, but it escapes me. “Humph,” I think, “This is going to be just another day like the others.”

Hubby kisses me goodbye as he leaves for work at 6:30 a.m. That’s my que to go dress for work. As I shower, my mind flits from one subject to another, thoughts of what needs to be done when I get to the office; prayers for people who are on my heart; grocery lists; lines from a song; it’s been a while since I did any writing. I need to get on the blog tonight…Yep today is going to be just another day.

I make it to work at 8:00 a.m. As I walk to the building, my cell phone buzzes. It is a text from a friend sharing news that her daughter was just accepted by one of the major colleges. I smile to myself. She had been in my prayers. I shoot back a quick congratulatory text. I unlock the office door, turn on the lights, boot up my computer and go make a cup of coffee. Just another day.

Other folks begin arriving and the campus becomes alive. Just as I begin to start on my morning tasks, a teacher stops by my office with a question about her financial statement. I stop what I’m doing to look at her statement and listen to her concerns. I answer her question and advise her on what to do in the future. She thanks me and hurries down the hallway to her classroom. I turn back to my task at hand and mumble under my breath, “just another day.

Shortly after the teacher leaves, an elderly church member stops by with a question about her financial statement. I stop what I’m working on to answer her question. Then the conversation turns to the recent snow storm. I asked if she had any troubles during it and learned she was without power for several days. Warmed only by the fireplace, she and her husband sat huddled together, reminiscing about their childhood in Scotland and how it reminded them of the fireplace “back home.” I smiled at her and commented, “I bet they were some good memories.” She paused for a moment with a faraway look in her eyes and with a smile quietly answered, “Why yes. Yes, they were. Thanks for asking.” As she leaves, I turn back to my task at hand, preparing for just another day in the office.

At 9:00 a.m. the phone rings. I recognize the gentleman’s voice on the other end. He had two college basketball tickets he was giving away and wanted the phone number of someone he had in mind for them. I gave him the information and then asked how he and his family was doing. I learned their well went dry recently, and they finally have water again. His wife was extremely happy about it. He chuckled and said that was why he was giving the tickets away and that he “best keep” his wife happy for right now. I wished him well and turned back to my work again, preparing for just another day in the office.

For the next two hours I worked with very few interruptions, except email. Between answering emails and completing some database updates I nearly finished a project. Just another day in the office.

Finally, lunch time rolled around. I had been looking forward to today’s lunch for several weeks. I had a lunch date with a young married couple. It had been quite some time since we had had a lengthy conversation. We ate delicious barbecue sandwiches in my office while we discussed matters on their hearts. I always enjoy time with them. It’s a blessing to me see how they are growing in their faith.

Lunch finished, they returned to their day, and I turned back to my other tasks at hand. I glanced at the clock and thought, “Good. I have 30 minutes before my 2:00 appointment arrives.”  In 15 minutes the front door buzzer rang. Since the front desk person had left for the day, I looked at the door video to see who was there. (I should have known better than to get 30 minutes more on the task.) The person always arrives early for our appointments. Why should today be any different. So, I put away the papers I was working on and invited the person into my office. We talked for the next 90 minutes. I gave the person an assignment to write down one positive thing that happens each day for the next seven days.

Now…back to the task I had planned for the day. I finally completed the project. Or so I thought. Another email pinged in. Another question about the project. I would have to research it and get back to the person. Perhaps I will have time over the weekend to help them with their part of the task. Perhaps not.

Finally, it’s 5:00pm, time to go home. I get home and hubby is wanting to go out to dinner. We enjoy a dinner of seafood and talk about our day. Just another day.

As I sat here tonight reflecting on this day, seeing the undertones of complaint, seeing the interruptions, Grace gently led me to this verse . . .

Isaiah 41:10  ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

So, I took the assignment I gave to my 2:00 appointment and applied it to my day. I took my anxieties out. And you know what? Today wasn’t just another day. It was a blessed day.

I am blessed to have a home and warm bed. I am blessed to have employment. I am blessed to have friends who want to share the big and small things in their lives with me. I am blessed to witness the love and share in the memories of an elderly couple. I am blessed to share in laughter when someone shares a chuckle about their home life. I am blessed to be a sounding board for someone seeking an unbiased listening ear. I am blessed to have a husband who makes me coffee each morning and wants to take me out to dinner. I am blessed when writing this blog.

For these things I am thankful for just another day.

How about you? I bet if you look hard enough, you can find a blessing in your day too, even though it may have been just another day.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for strengthening us when we don’t realize you are there. Often we miss the blessings because we don’t look for them. Thank you for helping us see an ordinary day through your eyes, and realize each day is extraordinary when we allow you in it. It’s not Just Another Day.  In Christ name – Amen.

Calling all prayer warriors…

The prayer of faith.
James 5:13-16 NIV – “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call on the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

There are times in our lives when we think we can do everything on our own. We plug along, push on, and grin and bear. We never let others see the pain, frustrations and hurt we are going through. Then there are times when we finally realize that it is not good for us to continue in that situation. Sometimes it’s with friends and sometimes it’s with family. We have to learn to practice “tough love” for the other person’s well-being, as well as our own.

I’m doing something I have never done before; reaching out to the blogosphere and asking you to join me in prayer as I work through some tough love decisions to bring closure in one of those difficult situations.

Please pray for peace of mind and healing of hearts.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I stand on the promise of your words …

1 John 5:14 that states,”…to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us -whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Father, may our prayers be according to your will.  In Christ – Amen.