The Holly and the Ivy (#jammed daily devo, day 348)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 348: Rivalry.

“A true friend is closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

Ivy is a climbing vine. Holly is a tree or shrub. I will never hear the “Holly and the Ivy” DECJAM14carol the same way after bearing witness to my two oppositely gifted daughters and their unspeakably close friendship.

David and Jonathan’s friendship is highlighted in this verse. There is something that even they knew, comparing it to something even greater than sibling-ship.

I have a strand of ivy living my house that climbs all over the place. She branches off and takes initiative. She is strong and able and uneasily rattled. As she grows up, the vast depth of her giant heart for Jesus and others is comes into view. I find prayers for others in her desk drawer, and when she says she’s going to “do something about it,” that’s code for, “I”m going to pray about it and I know God hears me.” She is the carefree joy that a child of Christ personifies.

My holly tree, on the other hand, put down strong roots fast. She knows who she is and what she loves and where she’s going …and she’s in absolutely no hurry to get there. We can try to move her along faster or into a different spot where theirs more shade or sun ..but there’s no moving her. She knows Jesus loves her for who she is right now, and has a purpose for her that she can’t derail …so she’s in no hurry …I mean NO HURRY …to get anywhere at all …ever. She calls her friends or writes them notes, and takes on the hurt of others that don’t even know she’s looking out for them.

The friendship between sisters is different than other friendships. They don’t need to talk who they are, they just sit alongside each other the way they are. They are so drastically different, yet both love Jesus so much. They reveal to me how much He loves us all for the way we are. So different. Yet so smashed together for a reason. 

We’re the holly to someone’s ivy, and visa versa. This Christmas, when we’re checking our list twice and stressing out about the Holiday hoopla …who can we add that needs to know they show Him to us?

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Father, Praise You for sisterly friendship, and the lessons that we learn from observing them. Thank you for placing us in our families so purposefully, and forgive for taking that for granted. Bless our hearts with the love we need to reach out to siblings and friends this Christmas. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Sibling-ing,


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The Friendly Chatter (#jammed daily devotion, day 336)

December #jammed: Grace …Gifted.

Day 336: Be Quiet.

If only I knew where to find him;
    if only I could go to his dwelling!” Job 23:3 (NIV)

With every bullying prevention week that goes by, we’re all reminded of how cruel kids DECJAM2can be. It seems to be getting worse and worse. Tender hearts are broken everyday on the playground. Personalities are wounded in the hallways. Characteristics that God layered into the fabric of who we are have been stripped down and shoved into lockers.

What’s more leveling than how bad bullying has gotten?

They get it from us.

Kids mimic what they see and speak what they hear. They are listening, and the tone we amplify is reflected in their classroom and out on the practice fields.

In today’s verse, Job is responding to some friends that have come to “advise” him. His life had fallen a part, and they remained convinced that he’d gotten what he’d deserved, a just punishment for sin.

Job replied:

“I’m not letting up—I’m standing my ground.
    My complaint is legitimate.
God has no right to treat me like this—
    it isn’t fair!
If I knew where on earth to find him,
    I’d go straight to him.
I’d lay my case before him face-to-face,
    give him all my arguments firsthand.
I’d find out exactly what he’s thinking,
    discover what’s going on in his head.
Do you think he’d dismiss me or bully me?
    No, he’d take me seriously.
He’d see a straight-living man standing before him;
    my Judge would acquit me for good of all charges.” Job 23:1-7 (MSG)

Job longs to for an audience with God to ask Him “why.” He’s at a loss as to why God has abandoned and failed to defend Him in the way Job wants Him to. His friends are maddening him with their reasoning for his suffering.

How terrible is it stand helpless while our character is compromised?

For a time Job felt hopeless. He wrestled with God about the unfairness of it all. We, too can wrestle like Job.

Bullying: abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger (Merriam-Webster)

Jesus is at the forefront of our minds at Chrsitmastime, but He’s always sitting at the right hand of the Father. He intercedes for us, loves us, and defends us when we cannot. His tender heart understands the ridicule of this world because He endured it, Himself.

Whether we understand our pain this side of heaven or not, we can trust Jesus. What Job longed for …a way to reach out to God …we have. Every heart that has accepted Christ has His very Spirit living in it.

That’s how we survive the locker door slamming in our face …the push into the wall …the trip into the mulch …and the snicker of laughter behind us.

Sometimes, even when we’re surrounded, we feel all by ourselves in this world. But we’re not.  A baby was born, on Christmas Day …and He’s not left us since …

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Father, Praise You for JESUS! Thank you, that we don’t have to suffer in wonder of where you are as Job did. This side of the cross, we know that Jesus lives, and has redeemed our lives from the deadly penalty of sin. Forgive us for taking daily life with Your Spirit residing in our very hearts for granted, and help us to spread Your love and truth to encourage others in their salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Happy Recess,


Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Unpicking,


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The Bossy Cow (#jammed daily devo, day 320)

November #jammed: Gracious.

Day 320: Thankful for my friend.

“A friend loves at all times.” Psalm 17:17 (NIV)

Side by side, with our arms up in the air and our souls light under the weight of His 320presence, we sang praise to the One at the core of our lives …and our friendship. The older I get, the more I realize how rare it is to find a friend to seek Christ with throughout life. Someone who meets my enthusiasm with excitement and encourages me in my faith. We share a thousand inside jokes like the one in today’s title.

Friendship can fleet and fade over the years, but ours seems to grow stronger still with time. We’ve both been through hard times and trials, and our friendship has been God’s way to hug us through some things that no one else could. We became AU Eagle teammates twenty years ago, and we’ve not stopped laughing for much since then. She took me to FCA, where I began to study the Bible and connect with my faith and my Father like never before. I have confidence in our friendship because He brought us together.

A true friend loves regardless of the situation,
    and a real brother exists to share the tough times.” Psalm 17:17 (VOICE)

My life was riddled with wrong choices in those collegiate years, and afterwards I continued to chase after anyone’s plans for my life but His. But Kate was there for me when I wanted to disappear from my past and everyone in it in the wake of my divorce. Looking for me, searching for me, and never giving up on me …she found me and pulled me back to face what wasn’t going to disappear. Over ice cream, we’ve built so many bridges back to Him …in search of Him.

Friends love through all kinds of weather,
    and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” Psalm 17:17 (MESSAGE)

When she suffered from post partum depression, we sought Him together through it. Prayed her through and praised her entry back into the light …and full night’s sleep …and her first marathon. Through the storms of married life and motherhood that He has pulled us through, and the rock of our joy that He is after every trial …we sang side by side that day. The people God places in our lives are not always blood-related, but they do become our Christian family. They are the people who build us up in Him, so that we can be better people to everyone else.

“A friend is always loyal.” Psalm 17:17 (NLT)

It’s not good to go through life alone, and because Kate is my friend …I know God has given me someone on this earth that will be my voice of reason. She will pray me through the troughs in the waves, and laugh with me eternally in this life and the next.

There are few things greater, and more heart filling and soul soothing, than a God-placed friend. It’s the closest thing to Jesus’ loyalty and love that we get to feel on this earth. We took a road trip recently, to the Outcry Tour, and stopped talking only to worship and sleep. In all of my efforts to be friends with everyone …Kate, you have been the friend that has taught me the most about what true friendship is. Thank you for being my friend …through all of my craziness and all my bad choices. Here’s to an eternity of laughter.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for the friends You place our lives. Thank You for my Kate. Your Kate. Bless our friendship to honor You always, and our lives to reflect Your Son …our King …Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy “Thankful for Kate” Day,


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The Crossfire (#jammed daily devo, day 313)

November #jammed: Gracious.

Day 313: Thankful for friends.

You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. 1 Corinthians 5:11 (MSG)

“I just don’t have respect for Christians that drink.”313

So much for sharing a casual drink among friends.

“It’s judgmental not to hang out with people just because they drink or swear.”

Anyone else feel like a friendship yo-yo at times?

It’s not our place to judge anyone, but especially not in our line of duty to lace words into ears that are not ready to hear. Only God can soften hearts. However, today’s verse addresses an aspect of Christian friendship that the non-confrontational soul in me wants to scatter and run from.

It’s uncomfortable to check someone else’s behavior. Especially for Christians! Who are we to judge? We certainly don’t want our mistakes drug out into the light, so why is it our job to correct our Christian friends? Paul explains it best in the Message translation of today’s verse in context with the verses that surround it.

 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that!

But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory.

You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior.

I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house. 1 Corinthian 5:9-13 (MESSAGE)

It’s a lot, and it seems really judgmental and hypocritical on the surface, which is why it’s a terrifying thing to stand up for what we believe in. But as the famous saying states …if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Take these verses into the mirror first, and then to prayer. God promises to give us the words we need when we need them.

Ignoring the sin actually makes the lives of the sinners worse. -VOICE notes

Life isn’t always about understanding things, and our perspective sight doesn’t always allow us a view as to why God asks certain things of us. But we can trust His intentions are always good.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for godly friendship. Thank You for the friendships we are blessed with in this life where we don’t have to worry about being judged for who we are in You. Forgive us for judging others, and for not standing up for what we believe in because of peer pressure. Help us to be strong and firm in our faith.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Friending,


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The Little Quarrels (#jammed daily devo, day 192)

July #jammed: Grace serves.

Day 192: One foot in.

“Give us a king to lead us.” 1 Samuel 8:6July 11

God’s people never needed a king …they had God. They often failed to see how set a part they were always supposed to be. Samuel is fielding this request, and he tries his best to persuade the people otherwise. But, they would not be deterred. They really wanted a king like everyone else. They really wanted to be like everyone else.

A similar shortage of self-worth is played out on playgrounds every day. Childhood can be very much about who we fit in with unless we are on a mission to let it be otherwise. As parents, we can’t protect them from every setback and harsh word spoken, but helping them navigate through misunderstanding with kindness is key to keeping them set a part.

Just like Israel misconstrued, we shouldn’t assume that life within “that” group is so much easier. We don’t understand why they don’t ask us to play and try to change so that they will. It’s OK to admit. It’s human nature. In fact, that’s pride rearing it’s ugly head in warning.

When guiding kids through friendship, I believe with all of my heart that kindness and forgiveness come first …even if it leaves us feeling momentarily defenseless.

God is bigger. He tells us that He will defend us …fight our battles and be there for us. He hears our cries, and tells us to love above all else. Teaching children how loved they are for who they are, and how to hand friendship over to God in prayer, allows them the opportunity to trust their King, instead of looking for affirmation elsewhere.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for parenthood. Thank You for leading and guiding us as parents, and as friends, ourselves. Forgive us for rising up in anger when we are wronged, and remind us to bring every situation to You first. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Friend-ing


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