Always Mr. P to Me


I don’t remember our first introduction Mr. P. I only know I came into your paneled den on Judy Lynn as a teenage girl and from that moment forward I would never know one moment ‘s lack of your acceptance, kindness or welcome. Quiet, kind, generous, devoted, how could one so private be so tirelessly open to a house full of teenagers? As we all participated in epic antics, you never ONCE gave even a hint of irritation or annoyance. We marveled at your blue notebooks cataloging your VHS tape collection with meticulous precision, providing hours of classic movie watching. We lounged on your couches, laughed till we cried, and felt completely at home.

You would come and go to the tower like clockwork, but whether at home or at work your presence was felt. So respected were you by us kids, we would not dare sit in your chair, even in your absence.

Never could I have imagined I was forging a relationship with my future father-in-law and eventual Papaw to my children.

In the days leading up to our marriage, your life continued to transform in Christ through a renewed hunger for being taught God’s word. I witnessed your choice to embrace an incredibly uncomfortable place for a shy, private father of not just showing your sons your love but opening up your heart with words to verbalize it. You gave life to their souls as you ended each phone conversation or departure from “the boys”, now young men, with a hug and an, “I love you son.”

My favorite saying about you, as I became your daughter in law, was, “What I didn’t get in a husband, I got in a father in law”. A “Mr. P list” awaited your every arrival in town. From repairs to limitless handy projects, helping untangle the latest checkbook snarl or loading months of “out of whack” figures into the computer till all perfectly reconciled; you would not budge until all was done. Inevitably, I would express to you embarrassment about my inadequacy causing the extent of your service. You would kindly smile and respond with the affirmation of how much “I had on my plate”, saying, “Nah, I don’t know how you get it all done.”

Fussy babies, relentless toddlers, or a child that needed to be carefully taught a new skill were your specialty. Your patience was convicting and limitless. You were even nicknamed “ Matthew Cuthbert” (the tender-eyed, kind old gentleman from Anne of Green Gables) by a young lady that came to know you in our home. Like the character in the story, you modeled persevering kindness, the solid quiet kind. People in need of that gentle kindness were impacted by it.

The closest you ever came to correcting me was one Sunday as we waited for Jeff to leave the church. I was tired, and the kids were, well being kids. As we waited in the van I became impatient and began to complain about Jeff being so slow. You quietly said, “What he does is people. You can’t rush that.”

I need to be done here with my reflections because you would have blushed and felt uncomfortable knowing I was “telling stories on you”. Yet the impact on my heart will never be done. You will always be Mr. P to me and I will carry the memories tenderly till heaven. Thank you for the love you portrayed.

Love Portrayed

Love comes quietly, more profoundly than noise

Allows itself to be overlooked, being paid attention not its aim

Love delights in serving

For it has found the secret joy of being a benefit to others

Love gives generously, with no need of return

Confident that provision bestowed is abundant and intended for sharing

Love expresses with sincerity

As fruit from truth’s tree, honestly nourishing the souls of those who taste it

Love exits graciously

Preferring those in its care not be saddened but strengthened in its departure


Paul Eugene Parish

August 13, 1937- March 10, 2018


Musings in the Aftermath

Well, nothing like a hurricane to completely strip you of any delusion of control. And just like the swirling winds of Irma, one can be left with thoughts and emotions still surging and filled with the debris of the past week. Yet as I hunker down to contemplate and reflect, I am so grateful that I can assess in a cone of CERTAINTY the valuable, treasured lessons of the last few days.


#1 I love my husband! His complete lack of anxiety, snoring on the couch as the worst of the storm passed over, is exactly the man God, in His sovereignty, knew I needed to be with. Learning trust over panic when all that can be taken is just STUFF and knowing anything eternal will wake to a perfect reality when God says our tenure here is complete. Sure, his grumbly frustration over moving my patio furniture out of the way challenges me, but I’d rather have that refined than being rocked by the big stuff!

#2 I love the church! And in particular a deepening appreciation for people that truly find their greatest joy when they serve. When a choice has to be made to stew or serve, service will be their choice, because, in the end, it might open a door to share Jesus. And when you see them talk of this, like a juicy secret, the twinkle in their eye can’t be faked.

#3 I’m grateful for my FL grown kids! Thankful they grew up weathering hurricanes as an adventure and remember these events as fond family memories. For in a crazy way, it strengthened them in knowing in the storms of life, if you have family to ride out the winds and rains, you are blessed in deed! (And you might have some pretty funny stories to tell looking back as well.)

#4 Grateful MOST I have a SAVIOR! I don’t have to be strong enough, resilient enough, or prepared enough when calamity hits. I just have to shelter in place under His wing and He will safely guide me through or deliver me home.

#5 I am more aware of the sinfulness of my heart! For in one twenty-four hour period, it can turn from gratitude over being spared of life and complete destruction to whining because my internet won’t load, my texts are taking too long to send, and the temperature in my house has reached over 80 degrees. (Father, you are so patient and forgiving. I want to do better choosing thankfulness.)

#6 Storms will increase! The Bible states it as fact. THEY. WILL. All that can shake will be shaken, and I cannot help but hear ringing in my ears the words of an old hymn….

“Rescue the perishing.

Care for the dying.

Jesus is merciful.

Jesus will save.”

Now is the time to rise up as a holy band of storm chasers. With Christ’s return on the horizon, people will find themselves swirling in the destructive forces of this life. If I am ready, I might just be allowed the privilege to be used as a “first responder” to offer the hope of the gospel and pull a dear soul into salvation’s shore.


Have you ever found yourself asking a question like this…

“How do I BEGIN to love this person?”

I am often struck with an unbecoming awareness of how shallow the capacity my “well” is when it comes to loving. My human attempts are feeble, fickle, and flawed. Hidden inside my truest attempts to love, lurk selfishness and personal agenda. Just let my “love muscle” be pulled or stretched for any length of time and I  withdraw from the discomfort and deficit of my capacity.

My poverty requires I explore His riches. A pauper, I must never cease to realize and rely upon the necessity of HIS ability to love through me. I do not have to recoil in shame over my inadequacy but rather dive into His depths, trusting its fullness to progressively overtake as I surrender to its flow. Hallelujah, when my deficiency draws me to His abundance! This is where LOVE BEGINS!


LOVE BEGINS when there is no longer the allurement or compulsion of self-gratification.

LOVE BEGINS when, eyes wide open, the choice is made to sacrifice in total death to self.

LOVE BEGINS when faith assures eternity alone will hold our questions’ answers.

LOVE BEGINS when we trace the steps of the fully man-God up a hill to a cross.

LOVE BEGINS when hearts cleansed by Calvary’s blood are made new.


“not that WE loved God, but that HE loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation

(atoning sacrifice) for our sins.”

I JOHN 4:10



Solemn Survey

While spending time in a study on II Timothy this week, I ran into a couple of verses that stopped me in my tracks!

He has saved us and called us

with a holy calling,

not according to our works,

but according to His own purpose and grace,

which was given to us in Christ Jesus

before time began.

This has now been made evident

through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,

who has abolished death

and has brought life and immortality to light

through the gospel.” II Timothy 1:9-10

As I meditated the calling and the cross, established in the heart of the Triune Deity before flinging time into motion, I sat motionless with the magnitude. I let it sink in afresh. Not only were we in the mind of God, but the Trinity met to discuss and devise a plan to extend life eternal. He himself would pay our ransom. The cruel cross, and the salvation it would purchase, secured before the first sunrise.

I have long loved the hymn “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”. The verses above caused me to pause long again this week in solemn survey of the cross and its preexistent “purpose and grace”. My thoughts, in response, came out like this.

“When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died”……


Awash with the glory and the beauty of His grace

Mind blown by the contemplation of eternal sovereignty

Heart skips, reflecting on the determined resolve of salvation


Comprehension fails


Divinity seeking souls before time

Savior Jesus, in submission, loving perfectly, knowing all

Celebrating sacrifice, paying freely with His blood


Immortality brought to light

Death denied by resurrection’s power

Adoption offered for those who cry, “Abba!”


Delights, as His children move in unison with the Spirit

Never rescinds grace, when perpetually they fall

And the cross covers all imperfections

Majestic purpose and grace of the triune design


The beauty of His love fills my lungs, catches my breath, and words escape

The facets of His brilliance overtake my soul, stopping me in awe struck worship


“Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all “


To survey is “to view in detail, especially to inspect, examine or appraise in order to ascertain condition, value, etc.” As the celebration of The Resurrection approaches, take some time for a solemn survey. As you examine and inspect every detail of our Savior’s sacrifice, see if its inestimable value doesn’t prompt a response of overwhelmed gratitude and worship.





Needy! There are few descriptive words I would despise more if attributed to me than NEEDY! All sorts of images pop into my head as I mull them over. I visualize ultimate vulnerability and dependence. I hear the tones of disdain and condescension just in the speaking of the word, “Needy”, and it causes me to immediately be uncomfortable. There is just one problem; my Savior says it is a necessary prerequisite to experiencing kingdom living.

I’m not the first “disciple” to be uncomfortable with owning my neediness. As Jesus was being barraged with children and parents bring their children to experience a touch of the Master, the original twelve were full of rebuke and tried to make sure the Messiah was not bothered with the assumed nuisance. Jesus confronted their overestimation of themselves and wrong perceptions of being an heir to the kingdom when He responded, “I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

Swift, and corrective, had I been among the disciples that day, I would have muttered, “Ouch!” For in my fleshly, wrong thinking I often attribute human attitudes to the divine’s perspective. Surely, God is not elevating the utter dependence of a child? Isn’t God MOST pleased when I display characteristics of strength and might?! Not in the spiritual realm, exactly the opposite is true.

I have found that in order to grow me into His likeness, the Savior will set about to strip me of ANY reliance on human effort or ability. He wants to create in me a full awareness that Christ in me is the only means of cultivating and growing anything of spiritual value or worth. This, then, often involves long processes of exposing my neediness. “Kicking the legs out from under” any of my prideful assumptions of adequacy and graciously leaving me empty in places that only He can fill.

The longer I have walked with Him, the more I am learning to see this process as gracious. For left to myself, I will always choose the quick fix. I will run after that which pacifies the need at the moment but threatens missing true satisfaction in Him. I recently reflected on it this way…


He creates in me a thirst, that He might quench it

He creates in me a hunger, that He might fill

He creates in me a need, that He might meet it

If not, this sinner, fallen, would miss His will


On my own, I choose this world’s intoxications

Drunk on pleasure’s deceptive promise to quench my soul

Guzzle more as increasing desperation

Mocks parched pursuit and widens my heart’s hole


Left to myself, I dine on flesh’s banquet

And as I have my fill, the taste is sweet

But pushed back from richest morsels at sin’s table

The fare sours in my stomach to digest


Why do I search continually to satisfy

With things offered by this world to sustain?

Ever widening the chasm, left unfulfilled

A gaping wound, bleeds profusely, as life wanes


Then you draw from your well

Calling, “Here is water!

I’ve a place set for you at my table.

Come and dine!

In my presence is your home, and you’ll lack nothing.

Stop seeking that for which in me alone, you find!


I gave you thirst, that I might quench it

Made you hungry, that I ALONE might fill

Allowed your need to deepen, that I might meet it

Come now my child, find your heart’s rest, and know my will!”


Heavenly Father,

Forgive me when I refuse to run quickly as a child in dependence to you. Even when it is uncomfortable, continue to take me to places that reveal my attempts to have my needs met apart from you. I want you alone to be the one that satisfies my soul. Your word says, “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) Let me embrace my neediness as a doorway to experience your filling.

In Jesus Name,




The Crescendo of Christmas


Prophets foretold Him

History moved toward Him

Portraits painted of One who would come


Patient foreshadowing

Whispering His name

Promised Messiah, a Son


Waits in the wings

For the fullness of time

Imperceptible, the curtain was rising


Took center stage

In humanity’s flesh

Walked among us, still hidden from sight


Veiled by obscurity

Cloaked in humility

Undetected by eyes blinded with pride


But to those who would seek Him

Pursue and believe

Piercing light of deliverance had dawned


From Creation to Christmas

Melodious strains of forgiveness

Mysterious sonnet of salvation unfurled


Silent incarnation

Babe swaddled in cloths

Crescendos, name Him Jesus; He has come!

The Resurrection’s Reality




Suffering Savior, Crucified King

Writhing in anguish o’er the weight of my sin

Poured out like water, paying my debt

Pardon extended as you bowed down your head


Your body, torn as the curtain

Securing the Way for mankind

Eternity’s door flung wide open in conquest

Rising triumphant from the grave


Took your place at the right hand of God and are seated

Daily praying, and lifting my name

Death’s hold is defeated, forgiveness made real

Now I wait for you soon and coming King!


The tomb empty matters

Without, all is lost

No meaning or purpose

Unless He paid the cost


To stand at a graveside

Would be torturous despair

Without solid assurance

The spirit’s not there


Arisen and glorified

For in like manner we rise

Our Jesus left the way open

In ascending, He parted the skies


And we live with the sting of those gone before us

But through tears we choose worship and praise

For our Savior’s provision of life all eternal

In abundance will fill up our days!


In memory of my precious friend and sister in Christ

Julie Bennett Oliver

April 15, 1956- March 13, 2016

No Longer Grace


The exclamatory statement I wrote to begin my journal entry a few weeks ago has been running through my mind and weighing, as of late, on my heart. The Spirit and the word have been continuously revealing things in my life that  cause grace to be “no longer grace”.(Romans 11:6)

The Spirit’s exposure of these grace nullifiers comes along two lines; the things I do and the things I don’t do. Sounds pretty all inclusive doesn’t it? Hear me out, because I really do struggle equally with both sides of the coin.

Grace, by its very nature is unearned, unwarranted, and undeserved. God dispenses it freely, absent of explanation, and without limit. The moment my sinful nature attempts to work to attain it, feels worthy of receiving it, or puts stipulations on myself or others for maintaining it, grace is no longer grace!

Paul adresses an example of the believers in Galatia robbing from the reality of grace by their works in Galatians 2:21-3:4.

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

From the moment grace arrived on the scene, mankind’s wicked flesh has battled,  striving to earn that which was already provided for free. Like these new testament believers, I am continually convicted that any action of mine motivated by a righteousness found on my own ( which is truly no righteousness at all) is an affront to the completed gift of Chirst’s sacrifice on the cross.

So the things I DO, when approval by performance is at the heart of my motivation, can cause grace to be no longer grace.

On to the thing’s I DON’T do….

Quite honestly, this is the area I have battled with my flesh more as of late. I posed the question in my journal this way.

When did I become so selfish, and claim your gifts as my own?

When did I embrace your sacrifice as something I somehow was owed?

The moment I hoard grace it loses its power. The moment I withhold grace it becomes an indictment. The moment I act selfishly with one of His gifts it ceases to be good. The beauty and power of grace are only experienced through release.

Oswald Chambers explains it this way, “You can never sanctify to God that with which you long to satisfy yourself. If you satisfy yourself with a blessing from God, it will corrupt you, you must sacrifice it, pour it out, do with it what common sense says is an absurd waste.”

As I cried out to God with my opening statement, “Don’t let your grace be wasted on me!”, I am coming to the realization, grace is only “wasted” if not “wasted” on others!

Lord, guard me from actions or inactions that cause your grace to be no longer grace. Purify my motivations so that my works may always be in grateful response to your gracious, perfect acceptance, not a sinful, misguided attempt to secure favor. I give you permission to reign over my selfish tendencies of claiming ownership of your grace gifts. Let me never refuse an opportunity to extend grace in the same lavish manner you have extravagantly given to me.


I have felt the desire to cringe and cower lately, as the culture around me seems to close in. There is a “little girl” propensity to want to run and hide. I fantasize of safe places in which to shelter those I love, those I care for, from the disfigured, deformed, degenerate behavior that is demanding to be embraced and validated. My heart vacillates between feelings of hurt for the dark places that sin and the enemy can lure and deceive people into going and repulsion for deviant courses so unnatural. I long to respond completely in like manner as my savior, “full of GRACE and TRUTH” (as my former pastor would say) to “sin that once would slink down back alleys, now strutting down Main Street. “ I struggle with refusing to laugh, as people nervously chuckle, in an attempt to lighten feelings of disturbance so heavy and real. I read articles in an attempt to understand things I do not want to even contemplate or dwell on. When I bow my head to lift up this cacophony of troubling feelings, I cry within. It is the type of emotion so deep within my belly that expressions of the burden will not surface, but stays churning, embedded deeply in my soul. Distraction, denial, and deflection all present themselves as a means of coping with the seemingly overwhelming flood. Despair enters the rooms of my heart and mind, advising it best to stay tucked away from the darkness and danger. And yet I am keenly aware it is inescapable.

Then, although initially imperceptible, a small but piercing light penetrates my reality. Truth confronts and challenges, “You are not merely the sum of all your fears!” Eternal, resurrection power resides within. Fear must be refused the right to determine perspective. The light of His truth must always supersede. I must seek it first .I must choose to deny fear its dominion over my heart and mind because of its complete loss of authority at the cross. As I pursue the heart of God, He realigns my responses. His word promises hope!

“For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” II Corinthians 4:6

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!” John 1:4-5

Jesus, in me, commands that I must not hide in fear of the dark places, but must seek His light! I must live what I say I believe and I KNOW that light overcomes, heals, exposes, reveals, guides, and redirects. The darker the landscape the more clearly defined is light’s presence.

Despair is born when I fail to focus on the all-surpassing nature of God’s grace. I was recently admonished in my fear over faith battle while reading Oswald Chambers. He stated, “I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.” When I fear, I doubt and diminish God’s ability to step in and transform, liberate, and redeem to the uttermost. Those doubts cause me to lose sight of the reality of God’s abundant grace poured out to cover MY sin and redeem MY soul. In the light of that perfect love, fear is cast out. ( I John 4:18   )

Lord, I ask you to take my eyes off of fear, for it is a “sin that so easily entangles.”(Hebrews 12:1) Teach me the only place to HIDE is in you. Then, as I am enveloped in your love and light, I can walk with a heart, filled with your purposes, to SEEK and to save those that are lost. (Luke 19:10)


I am learning about myself that I am not a very good multi-tasker. Oh sure, I can get a lot of things done simultaneously, but if there is to be any measure of quality or soul investment in the things I am doing, my focus must be singular. If not, I sit down, after possibly having accomplished much, and realize I did not experience a single moment of meaning in my toil.

For me, it is about maintaining a singularity of focus that enables me to sustain a God directed line of thought as I labor. If the task is menial and does not require a lot of mental energy to accomplish, my soul finds meaning as I allow my mind to praise and offer up silent prayers, attempting to do even the mundane things with excellence. As a younger woman these types of duties seemed to monopolize my time and some days I just wanted to scream out in frustration from the repetitive drudgery. Now, I treasure them as “free mind time” and savor the moments, lacking mental clutter, which provide time for a private dialogue with my Savior, friend as I work.

If the duty is more intellectually engaging, I exercise my mental capacities, breathing deeply on occasion, asking assistance as I whisper prayers of, “Lord, be my help as I do this thing.” God enters the work of my life in these ways. Afterwards, at the end of my day when I function with focus, I may be spent, but I have a sense of investment not waste. A feeling of tired not weary sends me to the night’s restorative rest to wake and repeat with the next morning’s sun.

However, just let me attempt to take the multi tasker’s approach for an extended period of time, and although I may be firing on all cylinders, a heavy question of “What’s the point?” begins to plague my soul. The things I set my hands to do seem to turn around and mock me with meaninglessness. Distraction drives my mind to fill with doubts of purpose, because I am no longer inviting the Spirit to permeate my plans. I find myself like a cartoon character hastily darting here and there with a caption that reads, “ I have no idea where I am going, but I am sure I am going to get there fast!”

My take on life and labor can become very cynical when the perspective on work appears as the insurmountable pile of dirty laundry and the never ending drone of the washer and dryer. The call to wash, dry, fold, repeat can echo the feelings of futility for all that is done as I work “under the sun”. But then I find that God has a redemptive plan for my work. He has a plan to bring himself glory through my grind. The wisdom of Ecclesiastes 9:10 conveys it in this admonition,” Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” The perspective change I need seems discerned in the final word “might”. When I am focused, purposeful, exercising my full strength or might, I engage in my work in a manner pleasing to the Father. As I recognize His strength as necessary to accomplish my work, I have an ability to worship as His provision abounds. Paul identifies this sanctifying concept in the New Testament verse, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

Just as the widows mite (Mark 12:41-44 ) ,if the work represents giving my best, the size nor the seeming value matters in determining its worth to God. The manner in which I work matters much more to the Lord than the dynamic of the task at hand.

The fight, then, is in maintaining perspective. Am I more concerned with pressing my performance into this world’s mold of a multi-tasked, distracted drudgery that grows discontent in the soul and steals glory from the one for whom I labor? Or will I fight for focus, which elevates my endeavors as praiseworthy and purposeful offerings in the daily tasks? I believe I will choose to work MIGHTily over MULTI-tasking, maintaining a single-minded devotion in my labor as unto the LORD