First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 75

We thank you, O God!
    We give thanks because you are near.
    People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 75:1 (NLT)

When was the last time you told others of the wonderful deeds the Lord has done? Have you paused lately to consider exactly what wonderful deeds He has done for you? He’s provided us sunlight, air, food, life.  Those are some of the obvious. Maybe a family? A job? A home? But what are some wonderful deeds of which we might not be aware?

A peek into Paul’s letter to the Ephesians begins to unpack a few of these wonderful things:

  • Long before God laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind
  • God settled on us to be the focus of His love
  • God planned for us to be made whole and holy by His love

Wonderful, wouldn’t you agree? But it doesn’t stop there.

  • God decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ!
  • God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (Go ahead. Imagine. Guess. Request. He does far more. And that’s quite wonderful)

Paul also told the Romans

  • God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
  • We have a wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins—making us friends of God.

Peter also chimes in, in his first letter, with more wonderful things God has done.

  • What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.
  • But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

In his second letter, Peter tells us God will give you, through his great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: he even shares his own glory and his own goodness with us!

Just a few of the amazing and wonderful things God has done for us. And there is so much more. This month, delve into the letters in the New Testament, give God thanks, and tell people everywhere of His wonderful deeds.


Heavenly Father, You have done such wonderful things for me. More than I can imagine. More than I can grasp or understand. As I rise each morning, blessed by the day You have given, bless me also with new insight into Your wonderful deeds. Let me live as one living a new life, a chosen life, a called life, and a good and holy life, ready to tell everyone who asks, the reason for the hope I have.

Grace and Peace

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Building Oak Haven – What’s next

The house is mostly finished, but we’re still working on it. Still a “punch” list for us to complete, mostly detail work, caulking trim and touch up painting.  A closet with shelving needs to be painted and Jon’s studio has window sills also needing a coat of paint. And I haven’t finished sealing all the grout yet. See why we’re still working on it? Tedious, kind of boring work, but it needs to be done, all the same.

As I write this, I’m sitting in my study. Outside, five deer parade by. Two mommas, one with first year twins as big as her and another with an early summer fawn still growing.  The other day, when the sun made her brief appearance, (she has been too scarce this winter) they sat on the tall grassy hillside in the back yard, out of the wind and basking in the warmth.  They drive my dog crazy, but I love having them as neighbors. We’ve had other gatherings, with two-legged neighbors, for dinner and Bible study. We’ve had several get togethers of friends and family since moving in and its a joy to see a sketch, a concept, an idea, come to life and rooms filled with laughter and friendship. My heart over flows with the blessing of living here.

What’s next, you might ask. If you know me well, you know I have a list for that, too.

The outside landscaping still needs a lot of work. We’re scheduled to have a tree company come and trim/prune our beautiful oaks before the weather turns warm. Our property has some amazing trees and we want to keep them healthy and strong.  I also have a sweet friend who is a horticulturalist and she has offered to give me some advice on plants and placement. Living in the Hill Country, we need heat tolerant, drought tolerant, deer resistant (varying opinions on that one) and of late, a bit of cold weather resistant.  It’s a challenging climate. The beautiful flowers and bushes that do so well up north and come back year after year, can’t handle our summer heat and require more water than is environmentally friendly.  And some of the lush tropical plants can’t handle the cold snaps our winters sometimes bring and also require too much water.  Native is best. And thankfully there are plenty of gorgeous plants to choose from.

The other thing keeping me busy (distracting me from writing!) are my projects. We have some great pieces of furniture that no longer fit with our decor. A few too many Pinterest photos and I’m out purchasing paint and setting up a work station in the garage. The first victim is our china cabinet, oak with a light stain. It’s a great piece but needs updating. I’m experimenting with making chalk paint (rather than pay for the overpriced cans of it) using baking soda. So far, it seems to be working out. I’ve done the prep work, of course. Sanding, priming and then painting. I’ve started with the hutch and it’s waiting for the second coat. Then I’ll give it a light, smoothing sand and a coat of furniture wax.  The next step will be a bit scary and require a touch of artsy-ness. I hope to mix the right color of stain with the wax and add another coat to soften the color and give it a bit of antiquing/interest.  Once it’s done, I’ll empty out the base, bring it out to the garage and get started on it. If I’m successful, I have a bookcase in the entry, a small end table and two tables on the front porch lined up. Oh, and I’ve also asked Jon to build two headboards for our guest bedrooms out of the pallet wood I saved. Pinterest inspired, too, of course.

What’s next? Lots. Some tedious. Some fun. But really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 73

Let us hope in God’s goodness.

No doubt about it! God is good—
good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
Psalm 73:1 (MSG)

Once upon a time…

These four words conjure up ideas of good and evil, love and jealousy, conflict and victory, sorrow and hope.  A tale of happily ever after.

And yet, this life seems to bring only the evil, the jealousy, the conflict, the sorrow. No good, no love, no victory, no hope. No happily ever after.

But God is good. He is a God of goodness. Of love. Of victory. Of hope. He is a God of the happily ever after.

If we don’t see it, its because the story isn’t finished yet.

He is the Author. He is the Creator.  He created. And it was good. He planted a garden. And it was good. He placed man in the garden. And it was good.

But jealousy appeared. A creature with evil intentions. Telling lies. Bringing conflict into a place of peace. Sowing discord and ultimately sorrow. The story took a turn for the worse and the ending seemed to have no hope.

But God.

God had a plan. A story. A happily ever after. He was not surprised by the unexpected turn in the plot. He was not shocked when evil, disobedience and sin showed up in paradise. Because He knows where these things abound, His grace abounds all the more. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. Where evil increases, God’s grace surpasses it every time.

As the history of man unfolds in Scripture, we see God’s grace, His redeeming love, His plan of perfect redemption and restoration.

Before the beginning, He had already begun to weave His promises into the story. From the beginning, He promised One who would come and “bruise” the enemy. Throughout the story, God provided glimpses of the One to come.

He chose a man. A family. A people. He guided them. He instructed them. He rescued them from captivity. He led them through the desert. He brought them into his promised land. He drove out the enemy before them.

Ah but the problem of wandering hearts. Straying affections. They left their first love. They believed the lies once again. They allowed the enemy to sow discord and ultimately sorrow.

But God was relentless. He would not be deterred. He made a way, where there seemed to be no way.

He dealt with the issue of the heart. He promised a Son. A king. A sacrifice for their sin. One who would defeat the enemy.

When the time was right, when the stage was set, as the suspense mounted, He appeared. In his redeeming love, God sent the Victor. The Savior. The valiant, humble prince. Who paid the price. Slew the dragon. Defeated the enemy. And conquered death.

God writes a story that unfolds even now. His grace abounds. He promises a wedding feast. Another garden. A happily ever after.

Because he is good.


Heavenly Father, you are good. You have a plan, a story. To create in us new hearts. Good-hearted hearts. Regardless of how the story looks right now, I will trust in your relentless, redeeming love and eagerly anticipate your happily ever after. Amen.

Grace and Peace







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First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 72

Give your love of justice to the king, O God,
    and righteousness to the king’s son.
Psalm 72:1 (NLT)

Let us hope in God’s Son, Jesus.

In our culture we put our hope in many things. A strong economy. A decent paycheck. A retirement plan. Higher Education. National healthcare. Military might.

We might put our hope in others. Our parents. Our spouse. Friends. Coworkers. Church leaders. We expect them to be there when we need them. We assume they can help us with any problem we have or whatever crisis we face.

But all too often these things or those we care about fail us.

The economy may tank. A job can be lost. A retirement plan can loose its value. Higher education may result in loans to repay but not guarantee a good job. National healthcare can turn out to be not all its advertised to be. And our military might may not always be able to ensure our safety at home and abroad.

If our hope is in these things, we may be sorely disappointed.

Those we love are fallible. They may not have the answers or may let us down. They may not be able to be there when we need them. They may be more of a hinderance than a help. Or they may even be the cause of our problem or crisis.

If our hope is in others, we may be sorely disappointed.

What have you been putting your hope in lately? In what ways have you been disappointed or devastated over something you hoped in/for?

Scripture exhorts us to put our hope in God alone.

The Psalmist says: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Ps 42:11, NIV)

and “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Psalm 146:5, NIV)

The prophets, Jeremiah and Micah, cry out “It is you, Lord our God… our hope is in you,” (Jeremiah 14:22, NIV) “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7, NIV)

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, knows this hope does not disappoint. “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:5, NLT)

He also reminds us of the source of our hope. “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NLT)

How do we do this? How do we hope? Through the Son, of course.

Paul went on to say “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” (Romans 5:6, NLT)

It is because of Christ we have hope.

“As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(1 Thessalonians 1:3, NLT)

And Peter tells us in his letter “Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.” (1 Peter 1:21, NLT)

And what should we do with this hope?

Peter has some additional advice in his letter. “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” 1 Peter 3:15-16, NLT)

It matters where we place our hope. Let’s put it where it belongs.

Heavenly Father, may I always remain confident in my hope in Christ, because I know in him, I will never be disappointed. I confess, lately, my hope has been in __________ and if it has not failed me yet, some day it will. Instead, I will hope in you, the One who delivers, and in my Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Grace and Peace



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First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 71

Lord, I have come to you for protection;
    never let me be defeated!
Psalm 71:1 (GNT)

Let us hope in God’s protection.

So many things in our lives can defeat us. We can be cruising along, enjoying life, when Bam! out of nowhere, we’re knocked down. Or maybe we see the forces mounting, surrounding, calling in reinforcements against us. However it happens, maybe we think, surely its all over.

But is it?

As a lover of fantasy and a good story, I can’t help but revisit the amazing epic battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings. Their fight for all that’s good in middle earth, their battle against the consuming darkness, their clash after clash with the enemy. In the Battle for Helms Deep, the heroes are trapped, their fortress besieged, the enemy barrages the gates, hope seems gone. Yet they rally. They will fight. They mount up. They draw their weapons. The trump sounds. And they meet the attack head on. In the midst of the defensive strike, they trust help will arrive. At the height of their engagement with the enemy “suddenly upon a ridge appeared a rider, clad in white, shining in the rising sun.”

Indeed. My heart can’t help but thrill at the image. Help. Protection. Victory.

Our daily lives tend not to be an epic war scene, and yet we may face conflict on every side. As we fight our daily skirmishes and big battles, we have to remind ourselves, our struggle is not what it seems. We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against an enemy who seeks to steal from us, kill us, destroy us. We fight against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (from John 10:10 and Ephesians 6:12)

Therefore, we cannot do battle as the world does. So how do we battle? Just how does the Lord call us to victory? We must recognize we can’t fight on our own. Like the Psalmist, we must come to the Lord for protection. He provides us with the strength and the weapons.

We are called to put on every piece of God’s armor so we will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle we will still be standing firm. (from Ephesians 6:13)

We are to use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. (from 2 Corinthians 10:4)

Two things, Scripture tells us, gives us victory.

Our faith in Jesus. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (from 1 John 5:4-5)

Our testimony. And they have defeated him (the accuser, also know as satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. (from Revelation 12:20)

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. (Ephesians 6:13-18, MSG)


Thank You Heavenly Father! You give us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. We who have Your word living in our hearts have won our battle with the evil one. And the victory belongs to You.

Grace and Peace

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