Do Justly Chalkboard Printable

Have you ever been in a situations where you didn’t know what you were supposed to do or which side to agree with?

I have and this verse has been particularly helpful.

When you don’t know what to do, which position to take, which voice is right, this verse is a lifesaver.  In Micah 6:6-8 the question arises about Israel’s sin and how to appear for worship again before the Lord.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

The Lord doesn’t make us jump through hoops, and again we see that a pure heart and a relationship with Him that transforms us into the image of His Son is what He desires for us. It looks God-centered, humble, merciful and just in the everyday dealings of life.

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”


God wants us to get rid of pride and to be God-loving and God-dependent people. Pride produces the opposite in us. It makes us arrogant, stiff-necked, self-reliant and stubborn. Dependence on God is the antithesis of pride.

Spurgeon says this:

When our walk with God is closest and clearest, we must be overwhelmed with adoring wonder at the condescension which permits us to think of speaking with the Eternal One.

To this reverence must be added a constant sense of dependence—walking humbly with God in the sense of daily drawing all supplies from Him and gratefully admitting that it is so. We are never to indulge a thought of independence from God, as if we were anything, or could do anything apart from Him.

Walking humbly with God involves a profound deference to His will and a glad submission to it—yielding both active obedience and passive acquiescence.

Humble walking with God cries under cutting afflictions, “It is the Lord! Let Him do what seems good to Him…
The practical result of all this inward humbling will be an acting towards others and a moving in all matters as under the influence of a humble spirit…

Like his Lord, he will be meek and lowly in heart. He will not domineer over his fellow men. He will not be hard, cruel, unkind. He cannot be! He who feels that he must walk with great softness and tenderness before his God cannot trample on others as if they were only fit to be the dust of his feet.

You will not see him supremely disdainful, carrying his head among the stars as though he were some great one. No, he has learned to walk humbly with God and he thinks of himself soberly, as he ought to think.

I made this printable for our fridge as a reminder. Feel free to use it yourself.

When you’re tempted to walk in self-sufficiency, stubbornness, elitism, prejudice, arrogance, remember our Lord and His desire that we walk humbly as He did.


Dominating Obsessions

“There are three things about us that significantly shape the course of our lives: what we think, what we feel, and what we want. They way in which we handle our thoughts, our feelings, and our desires determines not only our path but whether the path is joyful and fulfilling or fraught with discontentment” states Lydia Brownback in A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything.

How we act upon our thoughts, what we do with our feelings (feelings aren’t facts!) and what we most desire will determine much about about our spiritual walk and growth.

obsession 2

What do you think about, when you’re awake at night or day dreaming doing dishes? What hurt feelings do you nurse and coddle when people have failed you? What is your biggest desire when life is not what you planned?

What are you obsessed with?


Teenage girls says things like, “I’m obsessed with this gel or hairspray,” or “I’m obsessed with Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha.”

And while that phrase may be meaningless to them, we are, in fact, obsessive creatures.

Our minds get fixated on one thing:

that problem, that person, that need, that solution, that if-only.

We’re “locked and loaded” with fierce focus on our one thing and our lives become dominated by the pursuit of that one thing. It’s all you talk about, all you think about, all you dream about.

We convince ourselves that we are helpless against it. That we’re made this way.

  • “I’m this way because years ago, so and so….”
  • “If only she’d accept me the way I am, then I wouldn’t be so….”
  • “My husband drives me crazy and until he changes his ways, I’m going to…”
  • “As soon as I reach this level of success, I’ll spend time with my family, but until then I have to…”
  • “I have to get good grades. Nothing else matters to me right now.”
  • “People like her better than me, so to gain popularity and acceptance, I need to be like this….”
  • “She hurt me so deeply, so now I’ll find every way I can to punish her from here on out.”

When we’re focused on stuff like this, it’s all downhill. And in this case, all down the spiritual, emotional, mental hill.

Our minds and hearts are meant to be fixated and focused on God’s glory and what He wants from us, and our life motive is to love/serve others well for His sake.

There is no place for sinful “obsessing” in the life of a spiritually healthy Christian woman.

On the contrary, our only healthy obsession should be towards God’s glory and knowing Him well so we can enjoy Him forever. On this we can be one-focus women.

One-focus women recognize that God is God and is in control. We can trust Him with the big hurts and the tiny details of our lives. He’s capable.

When we are struggling for clarity of thought and steadfastness of heart, we can cry out for help.

I was dreading a difficult meeting I had to have with a woman who was being unreasonable and acting harshly to others. Another friend saw me that morning and said, “What’s that written on  your hand?” I had scribbled in my palm A1, which is my memory prompt “Audience of One.” When tensions get high and women are prone to throw words that are hurtful, my goal is still to live for an audience of One (Not give in to name calling and hurtful jabs, as good as that might feel momentarily in the flesh.) What she says reflects her heart’s goals, and what I say shows what’s going on in my heart as well. 

One-focus women let go of having to be right. One-focus women let go of been wronged.

We know our God and we can trust Him. To obsess over trials and troubles is to become distracted, discouraged, disillusioned. Our God can handle our troubles and the people who inflict them. We don’t need to plan retaliation, worry about outcomes, protect our reputation, replay the wrongs done to us by others, or waste any energy worrying.

As a woman in pursuit of God’s glory, I can’t give in to temptations to worry, to play the mean girl, to use corrupting speech, to withhold love from that annoying person, to misuse the roles that God has ordained for me, to be lazy about opportunities God puts in my path, to gossip about the people God has called me to love, to avoid people who are needy, to give the cold shoulder to that hurtful woman.

When we do all those things, we are confessing that we are double-minded, unstable, content to try to make life work outside of the methods God has chosen and allowed for His people. (Thank God for 1 John 1:9!)

If you are content to use wrong methods to get what you want,

when you are willing to war, or neglect, or manipulate, or abuse others to chase that one thing,

when you play god, making life work your way and monitoring the moves of others to make sure they all play the life-game according to your rules,

be afraid, because you’ve made a choice and have chosen a course and have jumped on the spiritual roller-coaster of your own emotions, feelings, whims, and ways, and it’s gonna be a crazy ride all around.

But He gives more grace.

Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4: 6,7

God says that the only thing that the proud will get from Him is resistance and opposition. His grace is for the humble, who’ll submit to His Lordship in their life.

James 4:8 tells us how to jump off the crazy ride and to begin thinking soundly and acting purely:

“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your heart, you double-minded.”

Cleanse your hands: stop doing what you are doing. Stop being disobedient. 

Purify your hearts: get rid of the “thing” that is making your heart purity dirty. Rid yourself of the sin.

What’s your one hang up? Or maybe, WHO, is your one hang up? Does it rule your thoughts and therefore your life? Do you obsess over it during the night and daydream about it during the day.

If yes, this sin has become your puppeteer, (and you’ve chosen it if you are saved because sin has no power over you unless we choose to allow it!) whether you realize it or not, entrapping you, yanking your chain, controlling you.

When it comes to mind, and you are tempted to obsess over it, see it as it is: a tool, a trick, an entanglement, an area of your life that you’ve allowed to become too big.

And ask God to forgive you for allowing it to reign for so long in the place that was God’s rightful place. Tell God what He already knows and ask Him to rescue you from the grip of this sin.

In faith, claim the promise that He can deliver you from the power of this sin when you choose to work in agreement with His plan and walk according to His ways.

The cure for obsessive thoughts is this simple truth: God is sovereign in all the affairs of men. God is in control, even when life seems out of control. AND I CAN TRUST HIM!

Do you have one area that seems to have you spinning your wheels spiritually? That one thing that trips you up every time? Be willing to open your hands to heaven and ask God to search them and cleanse them. He will. He promises.


Two Favorite DIY Holiday Cheese Spreads

I had a group of friends over this week for fellowship and food and one thing they all had in common was their love for these cheese spreads: Garlic and Herb, and Blue Cheese, Walnut, and Cranberry Spread.


IMG_2577I love this recipe because it’s inexpensive and tastes as good, if not better, than the little tubs of Allouette Garlic and Herb cheese spread.

And the blue cheese cranberry goodness…you can’t get that one in the stores. :)

This is not as pricey as the little tubs, and makes twice as much. It’s a simple, quick treat when paired with crackers and grapes or sliced pears and apples. Enjoy!

To make both:

Combine 3 bricks (8 oz each) with one stick of butter until well blended.

Split mixture in half. You’ll use one half for each recipe below.

For the Garlic and Herb Pub Cheese,

Use one half of your cream cheese butter mixture, and add to it:

1 clove finely minced garlic, 1/2 tsp oregano, and 1/4 tsp each pepper, thyme and basil. Stir well. Let sit an hour to allow flavors to meld.

For the Blue Cheese spread

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/4 cup coarsely chopped Craisins

1/2 cups crumbled Blue Cheese

2T brown sugar

Process the nuts for about 10 seconds until finely chopped . (I use my Ninja for this. It’s my go-to kitchen tool. I hate lugging out the big food processor!)

Put the nuts aside.

Process the Craisins for 5 seconds–just a few pulses. (Or you can chop them with a knife.)

Use one half of your cream cheese mixture butter mixture and add the nuts, Craisins and blue cheese, sugar, stirring until smooth. Let sit for an hour to allow flavors to meld. (You can throw some extra chopped walnuts on the top to make it prettier.)

Serve with a variety of crackers.


Related Posts

Key Lime Cheeseball {Just Like Tastefully Simple’s}

Hospitality 101 {Quick and Easy No Cook Entertaining}

Keeping Traditions {Making Christmas Tags}

{Guest Post} Tricia Koechig on Overcoming a busy life: Saying no to the excess and yes to the eternal.

I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for young girls. Maybe it comes from working in teen ministries all these years, or from having four daughters of my own, but it’s a tough world out there, especially for girls, and I really have a desire to encourage them!

I love it when girls share with me what they are learning in their walk with God, and today, I’m happy to share an article written by my girls’ friend, Tricia Koechig.

Tricia has been a sweet encouragement to Rebekah and Emily and I’m thrilled to share this space with her today!



Overcoming a Busy Life: Saying NO to the excess and yes to the eternal. 

I am a 21 year old senior at a Christian college. I have been overstimulated with multiple career options to choose from and countless organizations to join, as well as an overabundance of activities to be a part of.


The world today is traveling at a break-neck speed towards every possible opportunity that comes into its way. Many people view my generation as always running to the next thing and expending our energy and time on a million different opportunities, rather than focusing on a few specific opportunities that will help us grow instead of burn out.


Why do most young adults my age run towards that busy life of having a hand (or possibly just a finger) in every imaginable outlet and activity known to man?

I believe the reason is because nothing satisfies us. We always want more, and want to do more, because the world saturates us with the theme that our value is equated with how much we can do.


This “be all you can be” mentality has a way of making us run over anything or anyone that is in our way, including those that we love the most.


For Christian college students, it is easy for us to hide this mentality under the guise of

“I’m just trying to accomplish everything the Lord has entrusted me with”


“you need to be more understanding of the amount of responsibility and service God gave me to do.”


Though these answers sound all well and good, the irony is that those who make such statements may never have stopped to give Him the glory for those things (that “God has entrusted me to do”).


We can all hide under the protection blanket of “finishing tasks” and “being diligent” and “not wasting our time” and “doing everything to the best of our ability, no matter what the cost”.


As I write this I am sitting on an airplane headed back to Greenville, South Carolina where I attend college. After spending a weekend home, I had a lot of work to accomplish on the airplane and no time to socialize with lost souls around me. The convicting of the Holy Spirit consumes me with this thought: Here I am writing about the busy life and ways to overcome it when I have not even introduced myself to the person sitting next to me.  In obedience to the Spirit call, I put down my pen for the remainder of the trip and God worked wonderfully through the simple act of putting my work away.


The man sitting next to me was Roman Catholic. We started with small talk, and the conversation naturally turned toward the Bible and Christianity. He told me that he had never met someone as committed to God and the Bible as me, and I was saddened to hear that. I am so thankful that God brought our paths together so we could spend an hour hashing out what it means to “follow Christ with everything we have”.

He was impressed that I knew about ancient philosophers such as Pascal, Descartes, and others. I was impressed to know that he had read C.S. Lewis (and found him interesting!).

I encouraged him to read the book of John in the Bible. He told me that he would check it out, but that he believed in a general God, and that he would go to Heaven if there was One. I politely disagreed with his viewpoint.

I told him that I knew for sure I was going to Heaven. He still doesn’t believe you can know for sure. The depth and length of our conversation requires me to write very little about our exchange, but I have been praying for this man, Alex, since I met him. I told him that I would pray for him and he would be on my prayer wall and his response was, “Well, we’ll see if it works.”


What if I had kept on writing about the busy life and had come up with a neat outline of “Three Ways to Simplify Your Life”? What if I had started right away on homework for the upcoming week of (seemingly) endless tasks? One thing is for sure:  I would have never had the opportunity to live out my faith for a solid hour and dig deep into the “why” behind my beliefs.

Did I say everything perfectly in my conversation with Alex? Absolutely not. However, Alex heard a clear gospel message and saw a life that was committed to following Christ. Talking with Alex did not put me in a better position for the upcoming week, but I am thankful that God allowed me to seize an eternal moment instead of an excess moment.

Homework piles up, duties overwhelm, people manipulate—but all the excess cannot be equated with our eternal calling to proclaim to the lost world the wonderful message of the God’s free gift of salvation.

1 John 2:17  “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”


Related articles:

Smart Ways To Embrace Busy-ness

Forgetting Christ at Christmas

Honoring God with My Priorities

Easy, Crocheted Cowl Pattern

I’ve been crocheting up a storm this week, and after making several infinity cowls and playing with patterns,  I’ve determined that this one is my favorite! Thank you, Liz!


IMG_5356.JPGYou need to know that my crocheting expertise is next to nil. I literally have to look on YouTube for a tutorial video every time I change stitches. So, if you have some crocheting skills, you are good to go. I made this cowl in 2.5 hours.

It’s my favorite because it has a beautiful drape to it. 

I used 2 skeins of Lion Brand Yarns, Hometown USA, Super Bulky Chicago Charcoal for this piece. I used a size P hook.

Learn from my mistakes, folks. Crocheting gauge is a real thing. Although the pattern specifies to chain 78 for your initial chain, MEASURE your chain to make sure it is the finished size of 54″! Mkay? THESE are the important things. ;)

I did this one with an N hook and it was a little tighter, and I didn’t like the drape as much. I plan to remake this one using the P hook.


THIS one, I’m loving as well, but it’s a completely different look. I made this one in Tampa Spice (it uses twice the yarn!) , and it was crocheted using two strands of the bulky yarn. I also had to use a Q hook, which was a little awkward at first but I eventually got the hang of it. I think the younger set would love this chunky look. :)



These work up so quickly for gifts, and I purchased all my materials at WalMart.

And did I mention that crocheting is therapeutic? Yes, yes it is. :)

What are your Christmas crafting ideas? Feel free to link to them in the comments or tell me about them on our FB page. We’re all ears for Christmas crafting ideas!

7 Ways to Encourage Online

We live in amazing times, and I’m thankful that there are ways to use all of this electronic goodness for good!

Today, I’m sharing seven ways to encourage your friends online.

Words, whether delivered face to face, via text, through messaging, are powerful. Use them wisely. You’ll be accountable for them someday. EVERY. ONE. OF. THEM.

encourage pic


1. Send Scripture that promises comfort or courage. We’ve all gone through hard times and sometimes we need the perspective of scripture when our thinking gets murky. Scripture is a lifeline and it speaks truth into your friend’s life without our own flawed opinions getting in the way.

2. Tell them you are praying for them! Seriously, this makes my day. The Lord can help me, and knowing that my friends are praying that way for me makes me more determined to keep on keeping on.

3. Be thoughtful about what you say publicly. Some women love being “in the know.” If that’s you, be discreet and considerate. There’s nothing worse than sharing something in confidence only to have your friend blab it to the whole world.

4. Encourage them through their trials. Hey, we all go through them, and we all stumble and fall. Don’t be the “trial police.” Don’t criticize choices your friends make during hard times unless you’ve been given permission to by being asked your opinion. If you are really concerned it may warrant actual action. Instead of a vague online comment of disapproval, why not visit to help them out physically, or run their kids around so they can get some extra sleep or time alone.

5. Encourage the friendless. Let’s face it, Facebook is weird, and can be very seventh-gradish. Be the nice person. Like or comment on things for the sake of another person.

6. Promote solidarity, and don’t stand for online bullies…and by bullies… I mean the mommy-wars. Don’t go there. Just don’t. Someone posted that she was criticized all the time because she had a c-section. Who would criticize that? That’s so small minded. I don’t get this. I hated nursing my kids…but I loved them to pieces. Breastfeeding is a good gift, but it shouldn’t be used to club other women over the head. Ditto for homeschooling, natural birth, organic eating, etc…Can’t we just assume that we all want what’s best for our kids and move on?

7. Praise others instead of yourself. Selfishness is natural, and other-centeredness is supernatural. Listen to others instead of inserting your own story. Promote someone else instead of tooting your own horn. The Lord would have us outdo one another in honor. To live a life that promotes self at the expense of others (whether online or at home) is to live a small, sad existence.

I know this list is incomplete! What are some ways you’ve found to encourage one another online?

Questions for Reflection from Psalm 63

Who or what do you live for? What do you need to be happy in this life? What, if taken away, would cause absolute devastation and loss?


I found it helpful this morning to contrast the heart desires of David in Psalm 63 with my own heart’s desires. David, it should be noted, is in a wilderness as he writes this Psalm. His dry, barren surroundings don’t extinguish his desire for the Lord or his seeking after Him one bit.

I don’t know your situation today, but maybe you’ve found yourself in a “wilderness”. Seasons of dryness, waiting, want, uncertainty, or just plain wandering with no clear direction can all feel like a wilderness.

I’ve certainly experienced these times. Sometimes I’ve chosen to chase things other than God, leaving my spiritual life limp and unfulfilled. Other times, despite my best efforts, I feel weak and distant from God. Feelings are not facts, thankfully, and this is not all up to me. I can’t allow feelings to dictate what I do, what I believe, and what I seek.

I’ve learned that we’ll never be satisfied in this life—NEVER—unless we’re satisfied with God alone.

Are you there today? Unsatisfied? Unsure? Unfulfilled? God is there in your wilderness and this time of wandering is not without purpose. God uses these times to graciously point us back to the one thing that will satisfy our longing heart: Him.

I want to be able to say with David, “Oh God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you.”

Here are the first eight verses of the Psalm below in italics; my questions are in bold to differentiate.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; Who or what am I seeking?
    my soul thirsts for you; What does my heart love and long for?
my flesh faints for you, What makes me physically weak if withheld?
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, 
    beholding your power and glory. When I go to worship, what am I looking to and beholding?
Because your steadfast love is better than life, What do I consider the best thing ever?
    my lips will praise you. Who am I praising?
So I will bless you as long as I live; 
    in your name I will lift up my hands. 

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, What satisfies me?
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,What comes out of my mouth?
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night; What do I meditate on and mull over?
for you have been my help, Where do I go for help?
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; What does my heart cling to?
    your right hand upholds me. Who or what do I acknowledge as sustaining me?

What My Mother’s Decorating Taught Me About God

Our house was always the coziest house I knew. My mother loved to decorate and it was evident when you walked in the door.

At Christmas time, the rustic stone fireplace that my dad built was piled high with luscious greenery, berries, lights, candles, seasonal books, and figurines. We’d stare at its beauty.



I noticed as a child that not all homes were this way.

We would drive up the road in our station wagon and my mother would comment about the lady in that house that has all white rugs and doesn’t allow any children in for fear they’ll spoil her rug. My sisters and I would lock eyes on the house as we drove by, and I imagined that the windows were its eyes and that they had a sad look in them, and I felt sad for the house that didn’t welcome children.

Everyone loved coming to our house, but oftentimes, I wouldn’t like visiting other places. Sometimes they’d feel cold and sterile, painfully clean, sparse, or like nobody cared what the place looked like.

I learned later that many Christians feel that decorating is superfluous. In some circles it’s looked upon as unholy to spend money on nick-nacks and pretty things. Indulgent, even. My mom pointed out this misguided view to us several times in our childhood, and I remember her feeling badly for women who held this view, as though they and their families were missing out on so much.

I wonder, do our homes reflect our views of God?

Is our view of God sterile and basic? All business and no happiness? Cold?

Is your view of God one that denies you of all basic happiness?

Is our view of God beautiful, generous, abundant, creative, good, welcoming, hospitable?


When God gave instruction to have the temple built in 2 Chronicles 2, one thing you note is that the temple was purposefully beautiful and abundant, full of engravings and tapestries.

For those of you who’ve been given the desire to create and design and beautify your homes, I want to reaffirm what you already know: God is not the author of blah and ho-hum. Whatever God creates is gorgeous and abundant and orderly.

Creating an orderly, wonderfully stimulating atmosphere in your home is a good thing. It’s a reflection of the nature of God.

My mother’s decorating taught me that God was the author of order and loveliness. That attention to detail made all the difference in making someone else feel loved. My mom’s efforts in her home were a ministry to others. My mom’s kitchen table was always full, with teens, new families from church, hurting women and those in need. It was not about impressing the Joneses, but lavishing good on the underdog. I watched as women were encouraged, treated, advised, counseled and befriended. It was and is a healing place to visit.

Since when did we get the idea that following God means that our lives would be free from beauty? That following God meant the worst things: dullness, and want and the bare minimum just to get by as though God was somehow a stingy Father.

Within your means, I believe your creative efforts in your home can reflect your view of God. God made us in His image and when we reflect his love for beauty, and goodness, and generosity, we reflect His attributes.

I’m not talking about spending beyond your means.

I’m not talking about expensive things. I’m not saying that you can be covetous at heart over things, or that you must be ruled by the latest Pinterest craze.

Not at all. Creating beauty is oftentimes more a mindset than anything and is inexpensive to attain: Cleanliness, order, music, blazing fall branches brought inside for a centerpiece for the dinner table, candles lit, paintings created and hung, yard sale finds or

furniture taken from the trash and lovingly, beautifully restored into something attractive and useful. (Oh, the symbolism there!)

It’s not frivolous, or sinful, or shallow.  If God gives you those desires, dear friend, embrace it as a good gift and use it for His glory. You can decorate for His glory. You can reflect Him in your home. Those who live there will be thankful. Those who visit will be refreshed.

They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Ps 145:7

{Guest Post} When Bad Things Happen To Good People

Today I’m guest posting over here, talking about when bad things happen to good people. When my youngest sister, Hannah, found out that her first child would be born with multiple complications and would not live, it was the beginning of one of the hardest ten year stretches for our whole family. We all had questions, WHY being the biggest. God answered my whys with an unexpected answer…

We would have all lost hope without Christ. But God is rich in mercy and in love…

Join me?


{If you have more questions than answers, might I suggest this teeny, tiny book, When Trouble Comes by Jim Berg, that answers them so beautifully and Biblically. It brought me so much peace.)


*Amazon Affiliate Link in this post, at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting JFD.

{Guest Post} Lessons for the Living at the Bedside of the Dying



I’m excited to share with you a guest post from my friend Sarah Hudson. We had the joy of spending several days together this summer as she and her family were on deputation.  Over years of corresponding, we’ve become iron-sharpening-iron friends, and I’m so thankful for her tender mom-in-ministry heart. She’s guest posted for us before.

sarah and sarah

She shared with me some thoughts she journaled as she processed the death of a member of their church in Vienna. She graciously offered to share them with you, and I hope her words challenge and convict you (as it did me!) to seriously consider how are days, hours, and moments are spent.


Here’s Sarah:

As the chestnuts fall here on the sidewalks near the Vienna woods, I am astounded that autumn has come around so quickly.  It’s time for blazing foliage horizons, vineyards slimming down to mere stripes on the hillside, and cosy slippers by living room fireplaces.

A year.  How quickly each one passes.  

Even in October, there are tired-brained moments when I must pause to think as I scribble “2014.”

 Time—-so fleeting, so elusive—is marked by these years that are scarcely here before they’ve gone.

My monthly calendar pages turn before I even get used to the picture hanging in my kitchen.  Our church’s monthly communion seems to happen every week. Our days seem to be measured by turning off and setting alarms, with the in-betweens growing a bit blurry.

Yesterday as we stood at Manfred’s bedside, I realized that his day was divided—-not by hourly intervals or even minutes—-but rather into labored three second intervals of breathing.  His chest was rising in effort, then falling in exhaustion, taking about three seconds.

 A breath. Three more seconds passed, repeating the intervals through the evening and the dark night as Christa loving hovered and prayed over this dear husband who had led her to Christ several years ago.

Each minute stretched into about 20 breaths rising and falling in a cadence of gratitude.

Each breath was cause for praise. Each hour a milestone. This afternoon, we slipped into his room for the final 3 second interval. Christa hovered and prayed. Tears coursed down our cheeks.  For Manfred, time in Heaven had just begun and eternity lies open-ended.

Time seems cheap to those of us who are living.  Three seconds are wasted without a single thought, without a wisp of praise. Hours pass in boredom or worthless pursuits. We “survive” our schedules without doing much true living. 

There are lessons for the living found with the dying. Lessons about living a legacy and dying in tenderness. Lessons about preparing in today’s trivial for tomorrow’s trials. Lessons about passing the torch of serving others in the body of Christ.

It was 8 months ago that Manfred was traveling in Israel.  Twelve weeks ago, he painted an apartment for a couple in our church.  About six weeks ago, he celebrated his 61st birthday with friends in his backyard—without a clue that eternity was on his doorstep.  Twenty seven days ago, he entered the hospital for some tests.  Today he entered eternity.

How can I begin to harvest my 3 second intervals?  How can I wake up to the precious gift of every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year?

The children in Vienna are gathering their chestnuts for decorations and crafts. May I gather with them a new awareness of autumn, the passing of 3 seconds, and eternity at my doorstep.

Oh, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.