Four Reasons Why I Don’t Blame God


Yesterday my dishswasher died.

I wasn’t surprised. As near as I can figure, my ancient Whirlpool was about the same age as Betty White but without the classic good looks. Because we’re frugal (another word for usually broke) my husband Dan and I never buy new appliances until they gasp, writhe, and spill their guts all over some part of our house.

Dan made a valiant attempt to fix our Whirlpool when it stopped whirling and the water only pooled in a murky blue sludge at the bottom of the machine. He ended up with a cut finger that bled through double bandages for three days while I worried that he’d need some new form of tetanus shot.

Long story short, no, his bloody attempt to fix the dishwasher was less than a success.

So we’ve been washing dishes in our household. Dishwashing is a tricky task to try to manage while holding cane and attempting to ignore the cramping in your legs and back.

I’ll admit I was a discouraged when I realized one more thing in our house was broken (not counting my body).

But the feeling passed. I don’t blame God for the demise of my dishwasher, and I haven’t blamed him for my health problems, relationship problems, financial problems, or even the abuse people I love and I have experienced in our past.


1. God created a perfect world for us, and we messed it up.

God created a perfect world and free access to Himself. Adam and Eve were given freedom of choice and chose sin. They chose to put themselves above God’s interests and best for them, and humanity has followed in their footsteps every day since. We are sinners by birth, choice, and generational curse.

We are responsible for the hurt, abuse, evil, and lack of stewardship of God’s creation that messed up the world.  

So when something breaks, don’t blame God. When someone hurts you, don’t blame God. He gives us the freedom to cooperate with His divine, perfect plans or not.

2. I can’t expect justice or fairness in this world. 

Scripture is clear that since Satan’s instigation of evil on earth, he is the “god” or “ruler” of this earth:  “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 14:30). His limited power is because of God’s permission, and for now Bad often wins over good. But Satan was defeated by Jesus’ victory on the cross. The final victory over sin and evil belongs to Him.

For this reason, I don’t have to fight for my rights here on earth. I don’t have to worry about getting what I think I deserve. Jesus has already won those things for me. I’ll even have the opportunity to crush Satan’s neck beneath our feet one day (Romans 16:20).

3. I must be committed to perspective.

This means, above all, a biblical perspective–aligning my attitude and desires with Scripture. Sure, I want a new dishwasher, and I’d really like one now. I can even conjure up lots of reasons why I deserve one (so-and-so has one, I’ve had a tough year, I have a stinky chronic illness, and media tells me I won’t be happy until I have what I want).

But really people, that’s a load of horse pucky. The truth is, Dan and I live on a budget, what others have has nothing to do with what I need, and I need to be a good steward of my resources.

Needs and desires are two different things. 

My son-in-law spent years as an abandoned child raising himself in a Jamaican jungle. Soon after authorities found him when he was eight, he was struck by a truck and taken to a public hospital where he was left without an advocate in despicable conditions. Yet he grew up to earn multiple degrees and become a caring husband and father.

When asked to go out for an to a movie in the U.S. that will cost $40, not counting gas and dinner, he looks at the expenditure differently than Americans. He recognizes that the cost of a single movie represents many meals to friends and relatives back in Jamaica. Or the price of school uniforms and shoes for children hoping to go to school.

My son-in-law has a different perspective on needs and desires, and his values shape his choices.

4, Our values as Christians must shape our choices. 

  • Gratitude that compels giving
  • Sacrifice that compels service.
  • Love that compels mercy.
  • Grace that compels beauty of spirit.

So today I’ll head to the sink to wash the dishes. I’ll look out the window at the beautiful field behind my house. I’ll listen to a little worship music or maybe pray for some of you. Dishwasher or no dishwasher, it will be a good day.

What about you? What advice can you share with us about not blaming God?


Gratitude in Suffering


For more than fifteen years, I’ve experienced dizziness, nausea, pain, headaches, weakness, along with dozens of other symptoms. I’ve seen well over fifty doctors in hospitals all over the country. I’ve developed multiple lesions in my brain stem that have rendered me unable to walk, sit up, or stand. This past December I had brain surgery.

Even the doctors at Mayo Clinic declared me to be a neurological puzzle.

This week I received a diagnosis. The emotion was overwhelming.

I couldn’t have made it through these years of frustration without the support of many people.

People who never wavered or stepped away from my side for a moment. People who never questioned the reality of my symptoms. People who didn’t shame me for slowing down and stepping back.

People who sat beside me, wept with me, held my hand, cleaned up my vomit, brought meals, helped with our bills, prayed with us, asked the right questions at the right times and were sensitive enough to know when silence was a gift.

Friends who did not judge, but allowed me and continue to allow me to work through sorrow, grief, confusion, pain, and suffering as a lifetime journey with illness.

  • Thank you to Dan, who supported me every moment and never wavered. You are the most amazing husband in the world.
  • Thank you to my children and their spouses, who loved and supported me unflinchingly.
  • Thank you to my dear friend Wanda, who has helped with household chores, cooking, and sat beside me in the pain.
  • Thank you to those who have sacrificed, given, prayed, cooked, and done so much to support me. Thank you, Blythefield family. I don’t have words to express my gratitude for my church.

This journey has been hard. I have cried many tears, and I’m sure there will be more ahead. At times I have felt abandoned, angry, and confused. Even Jesus cried out to God in His suffering. Faith doesn’t require emotionless stoicism.

God’s goodness still overwhelms me.

My mind will never be able to comprehend His goodness and love. Love so great that He allowed all of humanity–including me–to heap our sins upon His Son. Love so intimate that He is with me snd never leaves my side in my suffering.

I pray I never forget to be grateful, that I never cease to see the Love that envelopes my life, even in sickness, suffering, and pain. And that I never stop pointing people to God’s goodness and greatness.

But gratitude does not come automatically–especially when everything inside us screams out, “Why me?”

  • So I choose my focus.I must stay grounded in the Word of God by choice, not because my emotions lead me there or my body wants to get up earlier in the morning for my devotional time. This choice requires discipline and commitment.
  • I choose my attitude. I check my self-talk and stinkin’ thinking, then repent. I’ve chosen a lifestyle of repentance that is followed by walking in grace. The two are linked in a daily cycle.
  • I choose my words. I’m called to look like Jesus to those around me–the phlebotomist who is trying for the sixth time to place an IV in my painful arm or the telemarketer who woke me up. I also choose the self-talk I allow because my thoughts are the control center of my mind and heart.


What about you? How do you find gratitude in suffering? 

The Golden Rule: Moving from Hurt to Healing


Over the past five years or so, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside bullying expert Brooks Gibbs. Brooks’ approach to bullying centers around The Golden Rule, a biblical principle for conflict resolution. Simply stated,

Treat people who hurt you the way you’d like to be treated when you mess up.

With grace and mercy.

Sounds simple, but living out The Golden Rule can be the hardest thing we ever do.

Our first reaction is to hurt people back when they hurt us. (Or to fixate on ways we’d like them to suffer, often while we try continue to act spiritual). Like the time somebody slid into my dad’s parking space, so he waited for them to go into the store, then let the air out of their tires.

My dad.The church board chairman.

We all fight the desire to be air-letter-outers. We’re all the same: self-centered sinners.

Over the past few months, I’ve been deeply hurt by friends. I’ve wanted to hurt back, but that emotion is always my first clue that I need to look at my motives, my goals, and truly be conformed to the image of Jesus. Faith alone won’t make me like Jesus, 2 Peter 1:3-8 describes the process: faith + knowledge (not information, but a piercing of my heart that changes my behavior) + virtue (I partake in Jesus’ divine nature) + steadfastness + godliness = brotherly affection and love.

When I seek God’s kingdom first, my heart is compelled by His grace and mercy.

On Sunday I ran into one of the friends I felt had hurt me. I hadn’t spoken to her in months. I’m sure she felt I’d hurt her as strongly as I felt she’d hurt me.

She brushed my arm as she passed me. I turned to her and told her I loved her and missed her, which was so very true.

Treating others the way we want to be treated when we’re hurt compels us to act lovingly.

So how do we this?

  1. Focus on God’s love for us.
  2. Remind ourselves of our goal: to become like Jesus.
  3. Submit to the Word of God and the moving of the Spirit.
  4. Commit to small steps.
  5. Move when the Spirit of God speaks to us.

Living out 2 Peter 1: 3-8 and The Golden Rule helped me move from hurt to healing,

But it required me to lay down my stubborn pride, lean into a hug and tell an old friend I loved and missed her. It meant looking into her eyes and meaning what I said. It meant giving up the lie that I had a right to carry a grudge because I don’t?

What about you? What helps you move from hurt to healing?



Porn, Pastors, and Cultural Needs in the Church

med-1044-depressionAccording to a report filed by Mira Oberman for Yahoo News on September 11, 2015, a U.S. pastor committed suicide six days after his name was exposed by hackers of the Ashley Madison website.

Unfortunately, this tragic news shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who understands the realities of an imperfect church.

Reverend Jonathan Pearson, Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church and co-creator of,  states:

“Pornography is the most pervasive and destructive issue facing our generation today.”

We live in a society saturated with sensual images. These images have invaded our homes through print media such as newspapers, magazines, the Internet, cable TV, and  network TV. Advancements in technology have led to pornography being more accessible today than it has ever been. Porn can be accessed easily by any web enabled cell phone.

Recent surveys indicate that more than 50% of men and 25% of women within the church are addicted to Internet pornography. This includes, pastors, who are afraid to bring their secret into the light for fear of being fired from their positions or shamed as failures.

But churches need to be places where we can share our brokenness and find restoration, accountability, and healing.

1. People, including staff, should publicly talk about brokenness and how they found healing and restoration.

2. Pastors can create cultures of transparency by talking about their own lives.

3. Pastors should preach about sex and sexually related topics.

4. The church should equip parents to talk to their kids about sex and how to teach their kids about sex. This goes far beyond the “sex talk” and should begin before kids hit ten. Sex education today must include culturally relevant topics like sexual identity in an era of sexual confusion.

5. Pastors should encourage accountability and use of Internet filters, such as Covenant Eyes.

6. Pastors should encourage counseling, and whenever possible, include qualified Christian counselors a part of church staff.

7. The church should encourage spouses to share passwords to all computers, tablets, phones, etc.

For seven steps on how to integrate teaching on sex in your church, CLICK HERE.

Tributes to John Gibson poured in from students and faculty who remembered him as a kind, generous man who repaired students’ vehicles in his spare time.

“John was a popular member of our the college faculty,” seminary president Chuck Kelley said in an obituary posted on the school’s blog.

“He was particularly known for his acts of kindness to the seminary family. He was the quintessential good neighbor.”

Into the Light Miistries offers resources, including seminars and  for those within the church who are struggling with porn addiction. For more information contact also offers resources such as She’s Somebody’s Daughter, a music video that addresses the topic of pornography. Watch a clip HERE.

Simple Ways to Make Someone’s Day

make today countI just spent three days in the hospital. Not my favorite thing to do.

But I had a choice about what to talk about and the attitude I could take.

We all do–every day–no matter where we are.

I love to catch other people off guard, make them smile, or bless them in some small way.

It’s free–doesn’t  cost me a thing. And I find myself blessed by the smiles and thanks I receive in return.

Here are my five favorite ways to make someone’s day:

1. Tell someone how wonderful they look, what a beautiful smile they have, or comment on their eyes or their hair.

I love doing this because people so seldom receive positive comments from total strangers who just want to encourage them.

2. Share five dollars or a great meal with a homeless person.

I live in Michigan, and in the winter months, I like to stock my back seat with gloves, socks, blankets, and sandwiches to hand out as I’m driving through town. I also occasionally hand out cash or fast food gift cards.

3. Pay for some’s gas or meal or… something.

I was standing in a pharmacy one day in a facility that serviced many people who are homeless in our community. The man in line in front of me needed heart medication. The total cost was less than $50, but he didn’t have it. I overheard him ask the clerk if he could purchase two pills or three for a few dollars.

I stepped up to the counter. $42 wasn’t going to change my life, but it had the potential to save this man’s life and give him a bit of breathing room. I handed over the cash and thanked God I was paying attention.

We need to pay better attention to hurting people around us.

They’re everywhere–not just on the streets but sitting beside us in board meetings and in front of us in church. It’s our job to look, to listen, and to reach out.

To have eyes that see like Jesus and hearts that beat as His.

What have you done to encourage someone? We’d love to hear from you.

Tips for Long Distance Caregiving

My mom and dad catching asnooze.

My mom and dad catching a snooze.


For several years my husband and I cared for his father in our home while we also shared the care of my mother with Alzheimer’s in Michigan. These years were a whirlwind and prompted me to write my first caregiving book, Precious Lord, Take My Hand: Meditations for Caregivers

Long distance caregiving can be challenging and stressful.

I know this from personal experience. I drove from Iowa to Michigan and back every-other weekend to help my parents, while my husband remained at home caring for his father. The trip involved a fifteen hour round-trip drive, not counting frenzied time with my parents (grocery shopping, managing falls, trying to locate paperwork, house cleaning, etc.).

Here are a few of my top tips for those who are facing the rigors of long distance caregiving:

1. Begin researching nursing home and residential facilities early.

It was a surprise to me to learn that our top choice for nursing care for my mother had a two-year waiting list. The good news was that we didn’t immediately need to make the transition. So we put Mom’s name (and my father’s) on a waiting list. When their name(s) came to the top of the list, we had the option of waiting to move them in but still remaining number one on the list.

Researching early also gives you a better picture of the kinds of facilities that are available so your loved one can make the most informed choice.

2. Begin gathering paperwork as soon as possible.

This includes medical records, bank and financial documents, insurance papers, Social Security information, loans and mortgage information, wills and medical directives, instructions regarding safe deposit boxes and keys, etc. You don’t want to try to find this information at the point of crisis. For a comprehensive listing, check the appendices of Ambushed by Grace: Help and Hope on the Caregiving Journey

3. Research what resources are availabile through state and county taxes and millages in the area where your loved one(s) plans to live.

Dan and I discovered that some of the most comprehensive eldercare resources in the country were available in the county where we lived in Iowa about a dozen years ago. However, wimilar services were not available when we moved to Michigan.


This meant a shift in our finances and personal choices, since Dan’s father lived in our home. When we moved back to Michigan, we discovered that we would have to pay for certain services out-of-pocket at the same time we were taking a significant pay cut.

4. Gather the family early (as in years and decades) to discuss caregiving priorities.

For instance, you might want to make it part of a yearly gathering to begin gathering and updating information after your parent or parents hit 55 or experience a significant shift in health. Reassure your parents that your goal is to carry out their wishes to the best of your ability. The best way to do this is to prepare. It can be wise to engage the serices of an eldercare lawyer, who can advise you as the best way to extend your parents’ assets.



Speak Life

BackToSchoolBluesWhen we open our mouths, we either speak death or life to those around us.

I grew up around someone who often lacerated others with his speech. He spoke the language of sarcasm, ridicule, and criticism.

Unfortunately, I learned to defend myself by speaking just like him.

Words can feel like a punch, and too often that’s our intent.

A  dose of self-righteous anger delivered to a telemarketer.

A snide comment made to a spouse or family member who hasn’t met our self-perceived “needs.”

A stinging verbal slap flung at a pestering child.

A rude comeback flipped over our shoulder to an irritating neighbor.

Every word, every conversation is an opportunity to advance the kingdom of God. 

To speak peace.

To give life.

To offer hope.

To change someone’s day.

Blessed are the peacemakers…

May you commit to this calling today.

May I commit to this calling today.