Monday, May 25, 2009


My mother is an amazing woman – my counselor, friend, and all-round hero. When our daughters were young, and Roy and I needed to attend a conference, my mom would wave good-bye to my dad (who is also wonderful) and travel the three hours to stay with our girls. Mom would cook and clean and do our laundry all day, while the girls were at school. And when the girls got home, they’d watch movies and eat popcorn all evening. Roy and I would return home to a sparkling house and tearful children – sad to see Grandma Cooley leaving! However, after Grandma left, more fun was in store. Did I mention that my mom did the laundry? And never let it be said that my mother left a job half done. Oh no! She also put away our clothes – wherever she thought they should go. Thus, after Grandma Cooley left, our household began what we called the Laundry Treasure Hunt. My husband’s underwear was discovered with his T-shirts, his socks with my shorts. The girls found their T-shirts hung-up in my closet and their jeans rolled like tubes. But each time I had to call my mom to ask where a favorite shirt or team uniform might have been stashed, I hope I was adamant in expressing my thanks. You see, to me it was a tremendous blessing that she took the initiative to help me by doing the laundry. The fact that she didn’t get everything put away exactly right was a secondary matter. Taking the initiative – when it’s done with pure motives – is a tender expression of love. Did I mention that my mother is amazing?

(You’ll need this Scripture for figuring times and days later on…)
Gen. 7:11,13
– “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month--on that day...Noah…entered the ark.”

Gen. 8:6-12 – “After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.”
  • Notice God didn’t tell Noah to DO anything. Noah waited forty days, and HE decided to send out a raven…and then a dove, when the raven didn’t work out. And when the dove came back to him, HE waited seven more days and tried again. God was silent through it all, but Noah didn’t seem to get mad at God when Noah’s initiatives failed. And then when the dove didn’t return, did Noah jump off the boat? No. He patiently waited some more rather than shaking his fist at God. I could learn from that.

Gen. 8:13-14 – “By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.”

  • Okay, if I’m Mrs. Noah, and I’ve been on that boat 318 days – Noah pops the top on the ark, and I see dry land. I want off that boat! But no. Noah waits the 30 days of the first month and 27 days into the second month until the earth was completely dry. How difficult would it be to wait when everything in your reasoning mind says you should, you could, you deserve to be off that ark?

Gen. 8:15-19 – “Then God said to Noah, ‘Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you--the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground--so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.’ So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds--everything that moves on the earth--came out of the ark, one kind after another.”

  • Finally, God’s voice! Scripture has not recorded God speaking to Noah since seven days prior to the flood – that’s 382 days of silence. During God’s silence, Noah had to step out on his own initiative, fueled by gut-level passion, not prickly emotion.

Gen. 8:20-22 – “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease’” (emphasis added).

  • We don’t know if Noah understood the concept of “clean and unclean” animals before the ark experience. However, God made the distinction when bringing the animals to the ark, and Noah’s first activity on dry land was an offering of thanks to God with the new lesson he’d learned. Notice that Scripture records the response of God’s heart, not His words to Noah. I love that. It implies that Noah was able to know God’s heart as well as hear God’s voice. A tender relationship renewed on a new earth.

Lord, I’ve come to believe that You don’t mind me taking the initiative while I wait on You to speak – as long as I can accept failed attempts without bitterness or devastating disappointment. But I must be confident of Your clear voice at some point and then remember to worship You, when I hear it. Help me to recognize Your voice, Father. Help me to hear it clearly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Have you heard the litmus test to determine who loves you more – your spouse or your dog? Lock them both in the trunk, and when you open the trunk an hour later, the one who greets you with kisses loves you more! Okay, bad idea. Please don’t try that one. This particular test has more to do with object permanence than true love (and would send most initiating spouses to the hospital or an attorney). Humans, unlike our canine friends, realize that an object can still exist even when they can’t see it anymore. Our four-legged friends think that when an object disappears, it’s gone completely. When you open your trunk after an hour’s absence, your puppy thinks you’ve been reborn. Your spouse, on the other hand, knows you’re a permanent object outside the trunk – and probably just lived your last hour on this earth. Object permanence develops in the early stages of life – so says my educator husband – around 1-2 years of age. Parents of toddlers will recognize the screaming Velcro child, clinging to you at the daycare or church nursery door. They’re not quite convinced you’ll ever come back for them. By our repeated return, and a few other social cues, our children begin to learn the concept of object permanence. Noah (at age 600) and his family had learned the concept well by the time they entered the ark, but all they’d known as permanent was about to be destroyed – or was it?

Gen. 7:17-20 – “For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.”
  • Mountains. If they’ve never been a part of your daily life, you might struggle to fully grasp their power, their comfort. When you live with mountains, their constant presence surrounds you like a faithful friend – no matter your mood or circumstance. Even on a rainy day, when the clouds hide their majestic presence, you know the mountains still stand faithfully behind the clouds. I don’t worship the mountains as god, but they illustrate so many of my God’s characteristics that there is indeed some reverence in my heart for the great lumps of earth and rock I see outside my window. Many things in God’s Creation illustrate God’s Person. My mountain looks different every time I visit its peak, but it stands forever, never-changing in its nature. Look at Creation around you. Let it mirror your God…

Gen. 7:21-24 – “Every living thing that moved on the earth perished--birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.”

  • In this situation, object permanence was going to work against Noah and his family. The animals, birds, people – everything that had the breath of life in it – dead. God said it three times to be sure we understood it. Dead. Go back and read the account of the flood. It wasn’t just rain. It was the springs of the great deep bursting forth and the floodgates of heaven opening (7:11). The foundations of the earth – rocks, hills, plains – would have been rearranged. They had 150 days – 5 months – to create a new “normal” on that ark and blot out the old way of life. Nothing would be the same when they stepped onto the new earth…well, almost nothing….

Gen. 8:1-5 – “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible” (emphasis added).

  • Ah, those amazing mountains…. Before Noah could see them, he felt the BUMP! on the bow of his boat. They sat for three months, anchored to mountains they now knew were there – the joy of object permanence. And then, three months later, they saw the peaks of those familiar friends they’d known before the destruction. Can you imagine the relief, the wonder, the elation…the questions, the planning, the wondering what’s next? Noah was human, after all!

Lord, at every turn Your love astounds me. I see it in the nuances of stories in Your Word, the thoughtful little things You do for those You adore. I’m enthralled by the careful steps through which You lead each individual on a unique journey meant specifically to draw him/her into Your arms. What joy to know I’m on a similar journey with You, mapped out just for me. I love You, Jesus.


Do you remember those first awkward attempts at writing your name? Forming the letters with those big pencils or crayons? Perhaps a parent or teacher placed their hand around yours to guide your progress – a stick, a loop, a curve, crossing a “t”, dotting an “i”. How about the first time you rode a bike without training wheels? Did someone hold onto the back of the bicycle seat, running behind you until the pedaling could maintain your balance? I remember another such milestone in my development. I think I was in first grade, and I had joined a Brownie Troop – you know, the precursor to Girl Scouts. It was mostly fun and games until at one meeting the leader announced what was thought to be a grand event. To me, it marked a moment of panic. The Father/Daughter Dance was upon us, but I had no idea how to waltz; and I was stricken with the belief that surely every other first grade girl knew how to dance like Cinderella. (Why do we torture ourselves like this?) I went home to announce that my life was over and I could never attend another Brownie meeting – especially not the Father/Daughter Dance. My father, knowing his daughter was the high countess of all drama-queens, gently took my hands and said, “Stand on my feet, baby girl.” I placed one foot on each of his Wing-tip shoes, and he began to waltz. I’d watched longingly each New Year’s Eve as my parents glided across our family-room floor to Guy Lombardo’s band music. Now, I was waltzing with my daddy, and all I had to do was keep my feet planted firmly on his. When I consider all that Noah had to do, I wonder if he didn’t need a little “hands on” help from God…

Gen. 7:1-5 – “The LORD then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.’ And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.”

  • Okay, let’s break it down. Noah had two things to do, and God had two things to do:

Noah’s two things:

  1. Go into the ark so you don’t get wiped from the face of the earth when the
    flood comes.
  2. Take with you…certain animals.

God’s two things:

  1. Start the rain in seven days and continue for forty days and nights.
  2. Wipe from the face of the earth every living creature that He had made.
    Noah didn’t seem worried about God’s “to-do” list. Noah focused on what Noah had to do, and he let God do what God said He’d do. Hmmm. Interesting concept.

Gen. 7:6-10 – “Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth” (emphasis added).

  • Okay, now it seems that entering the ark to escape floodwaters is a given. Duh, right? And I can see how going out to search for every kind of animal might be overwhelming, but for heaven’s sake – the animals came to Noah! Another gimme, right? But stop, and become Noah for just a moment. Look at your neighborhood as if for the last time before it’s totally destroyed. Consider every living creature – human and animal – every structure of your society, everything you know to be familiar and normal. All about to vanish – literally – from the face of the earth. After 100 years of building an ark – the strange contraption of his salvation – Noah needed the gentle hand of his Commander guiding these final steps.

Gen. 7:11-16 – “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month--on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in” (emphasis added).

  • Let me ask you this. Why record what year, month and day of Noah’s life the flood occurred? Didn’t the earth start over at that point? So why is God so adamant about twice saying “on that day” and “on that very day”? Because every day of Noah’s life was precious to God – not one was forgotten or wasted or unimportant. God guided Noah’s hand, held onto his bicycle seat and let him waltz on God’s big feet all the days of Noah’s life – because our God is the Gentle Commander. He expects strict, unyielding obedience. Noah did as God commanded. But God guided him tenderly every step of the way.

Lord, You are an exacting Teacher, but You are also a loving Guide, who walks every path with me. When I’m tired and discouraged, remind me of Your tenderness that carries me through the rough spots. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, help me discern if I’ve taken part of Your to-do list and made it my own. Teach me to allow You to guide my hand, using Your strength and Your wisdom to complete the tasks before me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Now, it would be important to keep the woodpecker separate from all other creatures on the ark - am I right? Actually, keeping the woodpecker separate from EVERYTHING would have been essential....

Heads and tails, two sides of the same coin – inseparable without destroying the essence of the object. Peas in a pod, separate objects, yet one depends on the other for growth and development until it separates into its full purpose. A clock face and the two hands of time – the face with its numbers would be useless without the long and short hands of time to give clear indication of time passing, separate entities that work in concert, giving meaning to a circle and two sticks. Contemplate “separate” for a moment. Imagine if your fingers weren’t separate. You’d have one big mitten for a hand. Bummer. No thumbs. Typing would be much slower. How would you play a piano, hold a pencil, work a remote control? Yikes! These are the deep questions that keep me awake at night. Not really. But isn’t it cool how many things in this world God separated and yet still uses together? As my children are getting older, it’s important that I get a clearer understanding of this separate-together concept. As my parents are getting older, it’s important that I get a clearer understanding of separate-together. As I am getting older, it’s important to learn that even though God separates, He still unites in interesting ways….

Gen. 6:9-10 – “This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.”

  • Notice that Scripture said Noah walked with God, but it is silent about his sons’ character or relationship with God. Shem, Ham and Japheth were separate individuals, who in their own hearts had to make separate decisions about their faith; but they were included in the ark of salvation – it seems – because of their association with a father of faith. Today, there is no ark of salvation in which our family or friends can sneak in on the skirt-tails of our faith. Each one must decide to enter the Ark of Jesus Christ by his or her own personal faith; however, family units still have great influence in that decision process.

Gen. 6:11-13 – “Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’”

  • In God’s sight, the earth and people are separate entities, and it was the people’s violence that caused the corruption of the earth. Our individual sin, from the very beginning, has affected more than just the individual. The next time temptation comes knocking on your heart’s door, please consider the innocents affected by your individual, separate-seeming sin.

Gen. 9:14-17 – “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.”

  • Notice the separation in destruction. All life under the heavens, and only creatures that had breath, right? What about those that didn’t breathe – fish, for instance – did they perish? Even those who didn’t perish – the residents of the ark – were to be separated into lower, middle and upper decks. They’d be saved – separately, together. They’d survive – separately, together. They’d re-create the whole earth – separately, together. Separate yet together seems to be the recurring theme in everything God does – much more complicated than one or the other because it requires judgment, direction, wisdom.

Gen. 6:18-22 – “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark--you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.’ Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”

  • God was very explicit with Noah, huh? Male and female, birds, regular “animals”, and creatures that move along the ground. Elsewhere God distinguishes between livestock and beasts of the field. Here he talks about keeping the different kinds of food – for man and beast – separated for storage. Think of the immensity of this task. Noah had to store every kind of food in order to survive and then be able to reproduce that food later. Now, realize anew the weight of the words, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Not only did the life of those in the ark depend on it, but the future of the earth as well.

Lord, when the task required such intricate detail, Who better to give instruction than the Creator of countless variations of delicate flowers? When a task or project seems overwhelming to me, I often see the whole picture as too large. Teach me to listen for Your separate instructions, Lord, on each detail. Teach me to wait on You for each separate step and learn to put them together in Your time, with Your particular process in place for the whole.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes! by Robin Jones Gunn

My wild and wacky friend, Robin Gunn, has a new Sisterchick novel coming to bookstores May 5, 2009! For all the details, and a listing of her other publications, visit her website at Here's a little snippet of what's waiting for all you Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes:
Summer and Noelle, two pen pals since 4th grade, meet for the first time in the land of tulips and windmills. An abnormal mammogram sends Summer on a quest to fulfill her lifelong wish before she begins the same struggle her mother fought against breast cancer. The story of these two Sisterchicks is brimming with hope and cheer and will bring encouragement for any woman who has faced a fearful future.