Fixing our eyes on Jesus

Yesterday’s post brought to mind Hebrews 12:1-2:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The NIV translates the phrase “looking to Jesus” as “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

Much like a dancer chooses a fixed point to anchor to while doing spins, we need our eyes fixed on Jesus to keep our focus. And that leads me to this song that we often sing in church.

When my heart is weary
When my soul is weak
When it seems I can’t traverse the trail before me
I survey the glory
Of your agony
And I find the will to fight for what’s before me
‘Cause you ran the race enduring for your glory


This part of the series, everyday adventures. <— Click to read all the posts in the series so far.

everyday adventures


What do you have your eyes on?

sunrise over the AtlanticSome time ago, I pondered a serious question…it must have been in college, that time in life when serious questions are pondered. Questions like, “if you could be any animal, what would you be?”

To which the answer must be a rhinoceros. Rhinos are tough, just look at that thick skin. NOTHING bothers them, right? And if it does, they’ll simply charge it with those horns. And yet, rhinos are reliant on others, like the little bird that perches on them and rids them of ticks and parasites. Definitely, if I could be any animal, it would be a rhino.

But the other question so studiously answered back in the day that still comes to mind…of the five senses, which would you most hate to lose? Would it be sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste? Which would you consider most precious?

Now, I love to eat, and part of that is due to the amazing taste of food. But if food lost its taste, I might finally get to a healthy weight.

I have somewhat of a super-sniffer. I can smell things (especially stinky things) long before my husband anyway. 🙂 That might not be so bad to not smell the icky stuff.

Touch is important, but it’s not my love language or anything.

I do love music, so hearing is very important. But, I figure that I’ve learned so many songs over the years that if I lost my hearing, I could still replay those songs in my head and probably get by.

But I haven’t found a way to reconcile losing my sight. From viewing the sunrise over the ocean to watching a drop of rain run down a leaf, there is so much beauty in the world that God created. I can recall those events, but not with the same complexity, not in full-color detail. To never see a loved one’s face again or watch water ripple down a stream or gaze at the changing shapes of clouds and colors in the sky or see the joy in a child’s smile…this would be very hard indeed.

raindrops on leaves

Recently, I’ve discovered that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Details have blurred and don’t stand out sharply. I have to pull things a little closer to see them clearly. It grieves me; but, other than a stronger prescription for my glasses, there’s not much I can do about it.

And so, I have to readjust my vision. Not just in paying a little more careful attention to what’s around me, but focusing on more eternal things. It’s time to recognize that the beauty in this world doesn’t compare with what’s to come or the One who made it all. Instead of keeping my eyes on the things around me, as lovely as they may be, I’m going to aim for keeping my eyes on God.

That’s today’s everyday adventure.


Taking a closer look

My everyday adventures today took me up close to examine a painter’s brushstrokes…


A work errand found me in the underbelly of the building…strange to think of all that goes into a working structure.


And a brief walk outdoors showed me a little more gold in the trees.


Before today ends, stop and reflect on your day. What caught you by surprise? What made you laugh? Did you notice some things that you have been overlooking? What sort of everyday adventures did you have?

Go back to the beginning to read all about the hunt for everyday adventures.

everyday adventures are found in the little moments

My mom recently visited me for an extended period of time. While we had a few fun outings planned, most of our days were spent in mundane tasks: cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. One afternoon near the end of her visit, we were looking back on what we had done. I commented how we didn’t do much, just lots of little things. Mom’s response really stuck with me: life is lived in those little things.

The little things. Those small moments. It’s the little everyday adventures that seem unimportant at the time that fill our days. Life is lived in those little things.

We tend to remember the big events. Family vacations, Christmases, weddings and funerals. Those get the big press, family photos captured and moments preserved. But we often overlook the little moments that make up our days.

As we count our everyday adventures this month, we can keep in mind Psalms 90:12 where it says, “so teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Pay attention as your day goes on. What kind of everyday adventures can you have this month?


The hunt for everyday adventures

Are you ready to go exploring with me? The beauty of an adventure is that you don’t always know what’s around the next bend or behind the next tree. We’ll poke around for the month of October and see what we find. Join me for 31 days of everyday adventures, part of Write 31 Days.

everyday adventures

Other posts in this series:

Everyday adventures are found in the little moments

Taking a closer look

What do you have your eyes on?

Fixing our eyes on Jesus

Celebrating Mother’s Day with a broken heart

To all the moms who read this, a sincere and joyous “Happy Mother’s Day!”

A few years ago, I wasn’t able to say those words with a joyful heart. My heart was sore and raw. There were definitely moments of bitterness. Some of the more painful memories of Mother’s Day include:

Having strangers wish me “Happy Mother’s Day,” because I was holding the hand of my niece while walking into an unfamiliar church.

Bawling while singing the words from “Majesty,” “Here I am empty-handed but alive in your hands.”

Running out of the church before sobs escaped me as a parade of babies entered for a Mother’s Day dedication.

So, I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve avoided Facebook on Mother’s Day, even making a big declaration one year according to my Facebook “on this day” memories. One year I even considered skipping church on that day.

But here’s the thing that hit me recently, if it was someone else’s birthday and not mine, I would be considered rude if I didn’t want them to celebrate. Unless I were two. Then I might be allowed to sulk, just a little. Or I might be given a present, too, to pacify me.

But, I’m not two. And this is not my day.

But it is my friends’ day. It’s my sister’s day, and my own mother’s day. How selfish am I to not celebrate them on their day.

Ecclesiastes says there’s a time to weep and a time to laugh, and a time to mourn and a time to dance.

There are those times to feel the pain of the curse for those who have children who turned their back to their mothers, for those who have had to say that final goodbye to their mothers, for those who have lost children or had miscarriages, for women who, like me, will never know what it is to give birth and hold her baby in her arms. There is infertility awareness week and infant loss and miscarriage awareness month and probably others. Those are the times to mourn. Those are the days to weep.

Today, is a day to rejoice.

But, it may not be so joyful for you, and that’s okay.

I know, I truly know, how easy it is to be hurt today. To only see the emptiness of your own arms. I’m so sorry for that.

I can say this because I know. Because I’ve been there. Because my own heart has wrestled with this.

If today is difficult for you, may I challenge you to look around for someone to rejoice with. You’ll have your own days of rejoicing in other ways or about other things. Set aside your hurt, just for today.

Find a single mom and give her a hug. Seek out a new mom and offer her a shoulder massage. Go to a mother and genuinely love her in this moment. Look for someone to rejoice with today.

I’m sorry to say, your pain will still be there, but today is not for you. Today is not about me. Today is the time to rejoice with our sisters who are rejoicing. Tomorrow, or another day, find these same sisters and ask them to mourn with you.

Today we rejoice.


What God can do in 10 years

We recently wrapped up a huge celebration of 10 years of God’s grace in Karis Church, and I realized that I spent so much time celebrating other people’s stories that I never shared my own.

It all began on a Monday morning, April 17, 2006, the day after Easter, as I read a news article about a new church in town that had its first public Gathering on Easter Sunday. At the time, my husband and I were pursuing membership at a church we loved, but the article intrigued me so much that I even poked around on this new church’s website. I remember being struck by the church’s values: truth, beauty, worship, community, mission, gospel, and mercy. I especially loved that beauty was included.

Fast forward two years to a Saturday night, January 2008. Tom and I found ourselves running Google searches – he on his laptop, me on the desktop computer – to decide on a church to attend the next day. We had, through much prayer and not lightly, separated from the church that had originally welcomed us to Columbia and were now ready to find a church to call home. God had been at work in our hearts, helping us question and sift through what we believed the Bible taught. We had grown, but we had been hurt, and we had walls up between the world and between each other.

At some point in our internet searching, Tom asked me to check out a website he found at the top of page two in his Google search. The church name was unfamiliar, but as soon as the page loaded I remember getting excited – I know this church! I read about their first Sunday!

It feels weird to say we never looked back, but it’s true. Instead of that Sunday being the start of yet another long search for a church family, we never went anywhere else. Kevin, the lead pastor, encourages other men to preach at times, both to give him a break and to raise up new leaders. January being one of those times, it took three Sundays before we could hear Kevin preach. I also remember, very uncomfortably, leaving church on each of those three Sundays under conviction about sins I had allowed to control me and recognizing how distant my relationship with God had become.

Karis in Tiger Hotel

Karis Church Sunday Gathering in Tiger Hotel. c. 2010

It’s a little fuzzy to think back on those early days and what it was about Karis that made it home, but here are a few things I remember:

  • being warmly welcomed by Brian and Christina Weaver
  • the senior pastor wanting to have lunch with us
  • Rob’s contagious enthusiasm for the mission of Karis
  • that we were two of the oldest people in the room on Sundays!
  • that a group of mostly 20-somethings were so excited about the gospel and about sharing it with the culture around them
Decade of Grace Block Party

Westside Block Party

Fast forward again, to a Friday afternoon, April 2016. I can barely recognize that hard-hearted, secretly wayward girl who walked into the Tiger Hotel in January 2008, though there are still some of the same insecurities and fears, still the bent toward the same sins. God has done so much through the community of Karis to soften my heart. He has used people in the church to call me out on stuff and ask the tough questions to help me see where I need to change and grow. Through the preaching and teaching, I have been stretched in my faith, widened my view of God and his holiness along with deepening my perception of my own sin. My relationship with Tom has been strengthened, as people in the church have lovingly shown me where I have been selfish and unloving toward my husband. By being given some leadership opportunities, I have been humbled again and again.

There is nothing perfect about this church over any other church. We try, by God’s grace, to live lives that give him glory. It’s not easy. Community is messy, as they say. As my friend, Anne, said about Karis: “Not many churches have people…who will love you where you’re at, but also encourage you to not stay there and to deepen your relationship with the Lord.” I’m excited to think about spending the next 10 years in this lovingly invasive community.

Decade of Grace

Celebrating a Decade of Grace at the anniversary party


You missed one last gift to open

What follows is something I wrote in the early days of my blog, revised for 2016. Each of us has this unopened gift in our hands. What will you do with it?
IMG_1093There’s a scene I love from one of the cheesy, tissue required, made-for-TV Christmas movies: a girl receives a beautifully wrapped gift. Instead of immediately tearing into it, she says something to this effect:

Don’t you just love a wrapped present? Before you open it, it could be anything, even a million dollars.

Sneaking downstairs with my sister on Christmas mornings, I loved the sight of the twinkling Christmas tree lights and the overflowing pile of wrapped presents underneath. I remember excitedly wondering what the gifts might contain for me and anticipating the surprises ahead with the gifts I was giving to the rest of my family.

My sister and I always wrote out wish lists for Christmas, but we also knew there was no guarantee we’d get what was on our lists. One particular Christmas, my wish list included a perfume I’d fallen in love with. Mom pulled me aside a few weeks before Christmas to tell me that she had looked at it, hoping to give it to me, but that this brand cost a bit more than she & Dad planned to spend. Imagine my surprise when the last, smallest present I opened on Christmas Day was a tiny bottle of that very perfume! That was a gift that contained something bigger than I could imagine.

IMG_1097So why am I discussing Christmas presents a week late? One reason is that this new year is like one last present for each of us to unwrap. On New Year’s Day, you’re holding a beautifully wrapped gift. It could hold anything. The coming year could be the unexpected present you’ve longed for. There is more promise and hope right now than at any other time of year.

Does this year seem to hold difficulty and trial? This may be a year of holding tight to God and his promises in scripture. Does 2016 have big excitement on the horizon? Trust God to use you even amid distractions – good or otherwise.

So now is the time to dream big. As this year unfolds, what could happen? I hope you can take time this weekend to stop and reflect on your hopes and dreams for 2016. What can you put on your wish list for the new year?

The telling of a story

Rio de Janeiro, seen from the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Photo by Tony Hodgson

Rio de Janeiro, seen from the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Photo by Tony Hodgson

It’s late, and I have plans to get up early tomorrow morning to pray with a friend, but I need to share this tonight.

I volunteered to blog for World Help because I wanted to use my blogging for more than promoting my own voice. I knew the founder as a professor in my college days. If I wanted to be a part of an organization that was really out there doing humanitarian work and not losing donor’s money in the shuffle of administration, and where I felt confident they were who they said they were, this was it.

As a freshman in college, I heard Vernon Brewer share amazing stories. He had a way of telling stories that mesmerized even the most sleepy collegiate, from his life-threatening health issues to mission trips to less-than-friendly countries. One such story was a little boy, Nildo, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

And 25 years later, I remember Nildo. His name was lost, but burned on my heart was the story of a street child who Brewer’s daughters took under their wing, fed and clothed, and gave the gift of very bright white tennis shoes. I remember their chagrin on discovering him the next morning with dirty bare feet again as the bright shoes served as a target and were stolen from him overnight.

Listen as Noel Yeatts, one of those daughters, retells this story:


Tonight, I read of Nildo’s death. As Noel wrestles with this ending and what it means for her and others, she writes,

My story gave people the ending they craved. It kept them coming back for more. It gave them hope. And, it neatly wrapped up an important truth. If we reach out and do our part, lives can be changed. Nildo was that shining example of a life transformed. He was inspiration to look past the masses and zero in on the one child, the one person God has put in your path. He helped us “see the one”…

I am realizing now more than ever before that Nildo’s story was never my story to begin with. I was just a small part of his story. A big beautiful story but one that I cannot write all the chapters in. There is no alternate ending to choose from, just one tragic end to a life beautifully lived.

And here’s the question I have started asking myself: How much are we willing to risk to let God write our stories? Am I really brave enough to let God write my story … my whole story – with no alternate endings to choose from?

And there is the heart of it all. I don’t write my own story or the story of others. I share the story that God is writing. It’s scary, because that means I don’t control the ending, the Author does. It is my privilege and joy to share it with you.

To give a gift in Nildo’s memory, which will help support his family, click here.


My church currently has a team of people on the ground in Rio, continuing the work of spreading the gospel to the people there. Would you pray for them?

The Real Problem of the World Water Crisis

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

My Dad used to quote this when I was a kid. I later learned it’s taken from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It refers to a story of sailors at sea with no drinking water on board, unable to drink the salt water all around them.

But, what if you weren’t at sea? What if you looked out and saw water, but it still wasn’t drinkable?

WWD_2_Full Sized Photo Pack

As much as I might complain about having to drink water, it’s required for life and health, and there are millions (estimated 750 million people) who don’t have safe water readily available to them. This is a real problem – and a serious one.

March 22 is World Water Day, a day set aside to bring awareness to the World Water Crisis. Every year, water-related illnesses, poor sanitation, and lack of hygiene claim the lives of 840,000 people . . . and tragically, 90 percent of them are children. (Want to talk about things getting real? That’s around 756,000 children!)

WWD_5_Full Sized Photo Pack

It’s not just about drinking contaminated water, there are also the real dangers of women and children walking for miles to wait in line for water, possibly becoming prey for sexual predators, and then walking the same miles back carrying jerry cans with up to 40 lbs of water for their family.

The World Help staff did their best to carry these jerry cans in this humorous video:

Lifting Kirinda’s Burden | World Help from World Help on Vimeo.

As a World Help blogger, I want to help shine the light on this real problem. For World Water Day, World Help is focusing our efforts on the Ugandan community of Kirinda. Its children have been victims of the effects of contaminated drinking water for generations. World Help hopes to provide clean water to all 2,000 people in the region through a variety of clean-water projects.

Would you be able to help, even in a small way, to help provide water for Kirinda? Learn more or give here.

While this post did take longer than 5 minutes to write, I was inspired to go through with it because of the #fmfparty prompt of “Real” this week, so I’m linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday bloggers.

  • Hi, I'm Janice. I'm part bookworm and part creative. I love both science and music (and the science of music). I'm stumbling around trying to grow closer to God. Click the photo to read more about me.

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