Peppers, People & Patience

I am worse than our boys (9 and 7 years old) when it comes to waiting for plants in our garden to produce. I till the plot, and help pull the weeds. I help rake and hoe the rows. I may even help plant the seeds. Then we water… and wait.

I am always amazed when four to seven days later little plants begin pushing their first little leaves up and out of the soil. And I know it will take a little while, but most of the plants grow so quickly that I get excited. At the sight of that first bloom, I know that a veggie or fruit is not far away… or so it seems.

This year, we planted red bell peppers. We chose to start them from plants instead of seed. And right away, they took root, grew and out on blooms. The blooms have turned into big bell peppers. Green bell peppers. One has grown so large that it began to bend the entire plant over… and yet it is green.

We wondered why the peppers are not turning red, and so we did a little research. What we learned helped me understand the problem. The problem, it would seem, is not with the plant but with me. Apparently, when it comes to waiting for plants to be ready to pick, I am impatient.

You see, basically, all peppers will turn red if left long enough on the plant. But most of us can’t wait. We would do well to wait. When the bell pepper is left to ripen to that full red color, it is sweeter to the taste, which makes it better to cook with… bringing full flavor and beautiful color to the meal. On top of that, by letting it fully mature, the pepper’s vitamin levels increase multiplied times over, making it more beneficial to eat. But you have to wait. And wait. And wait some more for it to mature.

Apparently, when it comes to waiting in my own life, I am again the problem. I am impatient. My Heavenly Gardener has placed me where He feels I will do best for the time being. He has made sure I have the right amount of what I need to thrive. I feel like I’m ready to be picked. But God says, “Wait. You’re going to be even better. Just be patient. You will look better, taste better and be better.”

I suppose we people are a lot like peppers. We require patience to reach maturity and be our best. Maybe that’s why God said in His Word that if we wouldn’t give up, we would reap a harvest of blessing at the right time.

The right time.

For the red bell peppers in our garden, that means waiting till they have actually turned red. For you and me, I’m sure He’ll let us know when we have ripened sufficiently. In the meantime, let’s just hang in there. (See what I did there?)

If you’re not ripe, you’re not ready. Be patient so you can be your best. At the right time, you’ll have all you need to be the biggest blessing.


Hidden Humanity

In light of the recent shooting in Santa Fe, TX… and closer to home, a friend who took his own life this week, I am challenged once more to let more people whom I love know that I don’t expect them to be perfect. I don’t need them to have it all together for me. I will love them for them… as they are… with all their faults, flaws and imperfections… because I’ve got my own fair share.

I know it’s hard to pull the masks off sometimes. So we have to push beyond the masks on those we love to see them fully and then love them deeply anyway. Isn’t that what God has done for us? Scripture says that while we were still sinners… messed up, imperfect, at odds with God… He loved us and decided to do what it took to let us be a part of His family.

Let’s let those around us today know that it’s safe to be genuine… raw… authentic… and real with us… even if that is less than perfect. Let’s let them know we love them and that we are for them. Let’s get behind the masks and love even their hidden humanity!


When I was a kid, I thought Stretch Armstrong was one of the coolest toys in existence. To my small arms, it seemed like he could be stretched as far as I wanted. His arms stretched. His legs stretched. His whole body stretched. You could even tie him in knots. It was like there was no limits to his ability to be stretched.

Obviously, as I grew up, I came to learn that Stretch Armstrong had his limits. People pushed him to his limits to see how far he could actually stretch. In fact, they stretched him till he snapped.

I suppose we all see ourselves like human versions of the toy… We think we can only be stretched so far, and then we will break. We feel like we have our limits. We try to roll with life’s punches. Stretch. We deal with hurts. Stretch some more. We watch those we love suffer for no apparently good reason. Stretch a little further. Financial challenges come along. Strrrrrreeeetttccchhh. And we begin to think to ourselves that we simply cannot be stretched anymore… that we don’t have it in us… that if one more pressure in life tugs at us, we will snap clean in two and all our stretchy insides will ooze out.

The Apostle Paul knew that feeling. He begged God to make the stretching stop, but God told him that he could be stretched further than he thought because it wasn’t about Paul’s ability to stretch… It was about God’s grace giving him the ability to stretch some more.

God’s grace is sufficient for us… so we can be stretched as far as His grace can. That means we are actually unlimited as to how far we can be stretched. Now, it may not always be comfortable. We may not like being stretched that far or in that direction. We may think we have reached our limits and are going to snap, but we can always be stretched even further… to our own amazement, and to that of those watching us.

If you’re going through a time of stretching right now… if you’ve been going through it for a while… if you wish that it would end… if you’ve even asked God to put an end to the stretching… and yet you continue to be stretched…

If your bank account balance is shrinking… if your health doesn’t seem to be improving… if your relationship with that person you care about continues to worsen… if your dreams aren’t coming true… if you’ve prayed about it more times than you can count and it still hasn’t changed…

Know this….

You won’t snap. His grace is enough… all you need. His grace gives you some more stretchiness… and some more… and some more… and some more. Unending ability to stretch.

So, you can relax Stretch ___________ (fill in the blank with your last name), because God has put the right stuff inside you to stretch as far as you need to stretch!

Keep Trusting

It is amazing to me how the lyrics to a song have the ability to transcend time and speak to my heart more than two decades separated from the first time I heard them.

For those who are regular readers of this blog… or who have at least gone back and read the first several posts in which I began welcoming you into my world… you know that I am a fan of 80’s & early 90’s Christian glam rock and arena rock. And some of the groups I enjoy listening to are unknown to the casual listener. So most of you won’t recognize the band named Fighter. And the title “Look Me In The Eye” probably wouldn’t normally grab your attention.

But the lyrics to that song stood out to me as I mowed a couple acres of yard around our house today. I got to thinking about how so many people are facing long challenges that they aren’t sure they can endure. People who have received a diagnosis that says they will have to face a physical battle for the rest of their lives. People who long to be married but still have not found that special someone with whole to share their life. People who are out of work and can’t seem to land a job they love. People who long to have kids but still struggle with infertility. People to whom God has made promises but they haven’t seen them come to pass… and it’s been months or years or decades.

Waiting is not new for believers. Joseph of Old Testament fame had to wait about 13 years for the God-given dream about his family recognizing his leadership to come true. Joshua and Caleb had to traipse around the wilderness for 40 years to receive the land and victories God promises them. Scholars suggest it took Noah years to build the ark that God promised would save his family and all the animals from destruction in the great flood. Then they had to stay on the boat for over a year from the time the rain first fell till the time when they could step out onto dry ground and start over.

All of us go through times when we wonder how much longer our challenge is going to last. Each one of us wonders if we have enough left in our tank to make it through. And if that’s where you’re at in life right now, then let the lyrics below from a band who recorded them more than 26 years ago resonate with you, let you know you’re normal, and hopefully stir you to hope… because God has made you strong enough… and all you need is a mustard seed sized faith… and not only is God always with us through our challenges, but He always keeps His promises!

“Look Me In The Eye” – Fighter

This thing seems so big today

I’ve run out of prayers to pray

Please go away…Please don’t say

I keep thinkin’ things will change

Tomorrow it will rearrange

And soon be gone, it will all be gone

Won’t someone…

Look me in the eye and tell me

I’m gonna make it

Look me in the eye and promise

And end to the storm

Tell me that my heart is tough

Tell me that I’ve faith enough

Look me in the eye

Trying hard to hear God’s voice

I slowly start to doubt my choice

Talk to me…please talk to me

Day to day no change in sight

Evening fades into the night

Take my hand…please hold my hand

Look me in the eye and tell me

I’m gonna make it

Look me in the eye and promise

And end to the storm

Tell me that my heart is tough

Tell me that I’ve faith enough

Look me in the eye

When you go through the valley of questions

Know that time holds the answers, if you trust in God


I love standing outside on a clear, cool night and looking up into the night sky full of stars. It’s even better to be out there, seeing the first star or two appear, and then watching as the sky populated almost miraculously with so many stars they cannot be counted.

On a night like that, it’s easy to begin to feel a slightly minuscule. The enormity of the universe with all those stars had the ability to put ourselves in perspective. And, if we’re not careful, we can begin to think we are so small that we are overlooked… losable… unknown. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

The prophet Isaiah wrote these words in the 26th verse of the 40th chapter of his self-titled book in Scripture…

“Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of His great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”

Think about that for a moment. Those stars are known. God… the One who created them… knows each one of their names and calls their names every 24 hours. They are personal to Him, unique enough to have their own name.

And not a single one of them ever goes missing. He always knows their location. They never escape His sight. He cares enough about them to know where they are at every moment… even when you and I don’t see them.

Here’s the thing… you are far more important to God than any of His other creations… like stars. So you can be sure that, since they are known to Him, you are even more so known to Him. Today… every day… He knows your name and calls your name. And you never get out of His sight. He always knows right where to find you.

You are known. And the next time you forget that, or are tempted to think it’s not true, I want you to walk outside, look up into the night sky… and remember that you are more known than any one of those beautiful stars you see. In that moment, open your heart and mind… listen closely… because He will come alongside you and whisper your name as well.

Speak Up

Author’s Note: Excited to share this 400th post with you today!

Sometimes the boys try to explain a video game to me, and it sounds like they are speaking a foreign language. Sometimes PR31 tries to tell me how to cook something or what she is doing with a craft, and it seems like we must be from different countries because I can’t seem to understand what she is saying.

But there is a language all of us understand… and crave. That language is encouragement. We all know it when we hear it, and we each need to hear it daily.

I was speaking at a conference recently, and I sat in on the other sessions when mine was over that morning. One of the speakers shared a University of Washington study from ten years ago which showed that students between the ages of 12-17 hear negative statements at a rate of 30 negative statements to 1 positive statement. My guess is that teenagers aren’t the only ones hearing that many negative statements in life. If it isn’t someone else, we sometimes speak negatively to ourselves.

That’s why it’s so important to speak “up.” Speaking the language of “up” means keeping our words positive, uplifting, helpful, good, and encouraging. It’s a foreign language to many people. They have rarely or never heard it, and so they don’t understand it very well. But instinctively, they know there is something about it that they like. And like any language, if we will practice, we can not only hear it and understand it, but we can begin to speak it.

I want to be fluent in the language of “up.” I want every word that comes out of my mouth to be tinged with hope and joy. I want to see people’s frowns turn into smiles when I speak this language to them. I want to hear from people that their life improved after I spoke this language of encouragement and inspiration to them.

It’s funny to me that we always think of Heaven and God as being up because Heaven is too difficult to locate, and God is not restricted or limited to one location or direction. But isn’t it interesting that we think of Him and where He lives as “up?” He is the originator of speaking this language called “up.” Even when He has to challenge or correct, it is in such a way and with the desire to lift us… “up.” And since my life revolves around knowing Him intimately, loving Him deeply and following/serving Him faithfully, I want to speak His language… the language of “up.”

We can learn this language and become fluent, and in so doing begin to bring transformation to the lives of those whose paths cross ours each day. Don’t let an opportunity to make such a significant impact pass you by today. Send the text, make the call, pay the compliment, offer the encouragement, share some hope… Speak up!

For All My Friends Who…

It seems like I have so many friends who are struggling and battling tough situations in life right now. Some have lost a marriage… others a ministry… still others their health. Some long to see a hurt healed… some long to hold their own baby… some long for companionship. And it breaks my heart.

So for all my friends who are suffering and struggling tonight, know this…

1) You are not alone. Jesus said He would never leave us nor forsake us. He is walking through this tough time with you.

2) You will win if you stick with Jesus. He said that we would have trouble in this world, but we should be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. He knows what it takes to come out on top, and He will help you do exactly that.

3) I love you… I am in your corner… and I am praying for those of you who have told me about your situations. I’m not Jesus. I know I don’t have all the answers. I know I can’t fix most of your issues. But I can be your friend. And I can encourage you. And I can let you know that, not only is Jesus with you, I am with you also. My heart aches with yours, and so I am keeping your need in front of the Lord on a regular basis.

Some of this sounds so cheesy and trite. I promise that I don’t mean for it to be that way. I mean it from my heart. And I hope you are encouraged by these reminders!

The Struggle Is Real

I was reminded today that we all seem to want to make everyone else think that we have it all together, that we don’t struggle.

That’s a lie.

We all struggle. We all face challenges. We all wonder… and doubt… and long. Then, because we do, we think we don’t match up to everyone else.

News flash… No one has it all figured out. We’re all doing the best we can.

Yes, even Christians. We may be forgiven, but we are still works in progress as we try to match up to what has been done for us.

So listen, friend, if you’re sitting there wondering if you “missed something in Sunday School” (a phrase I borrowed from a friend recently) because you thought you weren’t supposed to have those thoughts or feelings, I want to welcome you to the club of all humanity. You, my friend, are 100%… certifiably… undeniably… NORMAL!

So relax. And for Pete’s sake, could we please just be real… and authentic… and genuine with each other so that we don’t all going around feeling like failures?

Phew. Thanks. I feel better just getting that off my chest.

P. S.- If someone is vulnerable enough to open up and admit they don’t have it all together, please be kind enough to reciprocate. You might even encourage them while you’re at it. Who knows? They might even encourage you.

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