The Middle Ground

Sometimes when God begins that gentle nudge on my heart, I am only minutely aware of what He’s prompting me to think, or feel,  or act on.  But often, as time goes on, that gentle nudge becomes a nagging tug, and then my heart begins to be bothered in a big way.  I really believe this is how He causes us to take action on issues.  And recently, that tug has been giving rise to an issue I just need to barrel through.  It will not be settled till I do.

We are living in a world where compromise seems to be the key word.  Where negotiations and finding common good is important if anything is to be accomplished.  But I wonder sometimes, does common good, does compromise, or negotiating to meet in the middle leave us in a precarious position where we are neither right nor wrong and we find ourselves standing in the middle ground?

For what seems like a solid generation, I think the middle ground is eroding into the common ground, the place where many people find themselves.  In that world I was raised in, there was never any room for compromise.  For that, in some ways, I’m so grateful.  I have never doubted my relationship with an amazing and powerful God, ever.  As a teen, it sure wrankled my spirit though!  I thought there should be more compromise, more grace and less condemnation.  I thought there should be allowances and that surely God loved people beyond the rules and commandments.  Surely, there might be a middle ground.  A lot of my friends lived there, in the middle ground, and it was a struggle to not wander in that territory.  It was a few steps away from what I knew to be true, and the constant grace I wanted to live under  because I wouldn’t give up walking in the middle ground.

That place between truth and falsehood is sure a good looking place, isn’t it?  Everyone loves the vast acreage in the middle ground.  There’s no frustration, no anger, no condemnation and no judgement in the middle ground.  Legalistic attitudes go bye-bye in the middle ground and living there is so much easier.  But in reality, can you really live in the middle ground and still follow Jesus?  Maybe we need to define the middle ground a little bit, or better yet, maybe we need to define what is NOT middle ground to know if it’s real and if it’s fine to walk with Jesus in the middle ground.

I’ll tell you right off the bat what is NOT the middle ground.  Middle ground is not the issue you might think it is.  Middle ground is not the debate between to drink alcohol or not to drink it.  Middle ground is not the argument betweens “hymns” and “worship” music.  Middle ground is not the space between traditional or contemporary.   Middle ground is not the debate between raising your hands in church, or clapping, or sitting stoically.  Middle ground is not speaking in tongues, or “gifts for today” and “gifts of yesterday”.  Truthfully, none of that is the middle ground.  Those are the interpretations that we have of the one truth.  But truth still exists, and you are either in it or not, and these issues I assure you are not the middle ground.

Middle ground, in my opinion, is that point where you wander just far enough from the truths you actually do believe in, or that you know to be true, that you are no longer within the boundary of your own belief.

Middle ground is the point you indulge your heart just long enough to lose sight of the truth you do know.

Truth doesn’t actually disappear when you step into the middle ground, you do.

Middle ground is not on any real path at all.  In fact, it goes nowhere worthile.  You left a meaningful path when you followed your heart past the point of truth.

Middle ground is often referred to in a positive note.  It’s that place where we agree to disagree, it’s the place we compromise, it’s the place where no one is really right or really wrong, and we are much more comfortable in the middle ground than we are with all kinds of opposition on either side of it.  Middle ground is where we like to be if we are uncomfortable with being uncomfortable!

It’s easy to wander into this middle ground almost unknowingly.  Social media would have us believe that we’ve entered a new era, where no one is right, no one is wrong, and everything goes.  The middle ground is that spot where we say, “well, I don’t believe that’s right, but …oh well.”   So your belief is simply yours and there is no repulsion for what you believe is wrong.  We love the person, as we should, but we also let that cause us to stray from the love of the truth sometimes.   If your love for a person affects your love of the truth negatively, then you really don’t love that person as you should.

So why the tug? Why is the “middle ground” weighing on me so heavily?  Because the middle ground has started screaming.   We need to be so mightily steeped in the truth, that the middle ground just screams danger to us.   What we hear, what we watch, what we spend our time doing….if you pull it apart and examine it,  are you putting in your heart and mind the truth of God’s word, or is it screaming middle ground?  Is everything you watch or see or hear something you’d tell your child to do?  Does it line up with scripture? Or is it in the middle ground, while you tell them to live truth?

Are you watching a TV series where the characters or what they say, or the way they are living their lives is contrary to scripture?  Do you sing lyrics along your way into work that are contrary to God’s Word?  Do you eat like you shouldn’t?  Do you speak like the world?  Is what comes out of your mouth with one friend different from what comes out of your mouth when you’re with another?  You have entered the middle ground.   Do you believe in being pure outside of marriage, and yet habits get the best of you?  Do you keep the freebie in the grocery store because the clerk forgot to charge you?  Are you screaming at the driver in front of you?  Or hail your own salute when he flips you off and zags around you?  You have entered the middle ground.  What about laziness?  We know it’s wrong.  But what are we when we sit around for hours on our phones, scrolling, watching video’s, playing games…I know it.  I’ve done it.  But we are just “relaxing”  “Relaxing” is fine.  There’s a time for that.  The Bible says so…right?  Well…if that is really what is refreshing us and helping us rest up for the battle for people’s lives and eternity, then yes?  But most studies will tell you that screen time is actually not relaxing for the body, it’s not refreshing it, and we are not actually resting. Truthfully, we’re indulging ourselves and laziness is part of the middle ground.  Not actually doing something awful, but not really doing anything at all.  I’m guilty.  I know.  Are you lying to yourself by not answering God’s call on your life…telling yourself you are not qualified, or claiming no time, or no ability….then you are in the middle ground.  Because you either believe the truth of the call and God’s ability to empower and equip you, or you don’t.  The middle ground exists in our decisions to act and act within God’s truth, not within the truth itself.  Truth itself never walks in the middle ground.  All of this thinking about the middle ground of course recalled the verse about being lukewarm.  Couldn’t help it.  But I noticed something I hadn’t before.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”  Revelation 3:15-16

It was written to the prideful church at Laodecia.  Why on earth would the writer tell them that it is better if they were either hot or cold?  Isn’t a “little bit hot” better than all-out cold?  And I realized something must be horribly wrong with the middle ground for that to be true.  Something happens in the middle ground that is detestable.  It could be that it’s like any other hotbed of activity.  When so many wander from the truth and enter the middle ground, it becomes the place to be.  It doesn’t change truth, but more people are enticed to leave truth and check out the middle ground.

You see, the people who always stand firmly on the side of falsehood, well they are easy to negate, easier to keep away from.  They actually look and feel wrong.  But those who stand in the middle ground, those are the ones who don’t look wrong, don’t make you question if your action is actually based on truth, and they accept you easily.  When you step into the middle ground, you’ve become a land mind of complacency that is easy to suck others into.  You are dangerous not just to your own self, you are dangerous to others when you walk in the middle ground.

Considering the all important fact, that God will not co-exist with darkness, understand that when you step out from the light of truth, you are stepping into a darkness that you haven’t yet recognized.  I’d venture to say it also takes a whole lot of pride to stand in the middle ground.  Because you look over at the side of falsehood, and surely, you are better than they.  You look back at the camp called truth, and they seem to not have the love and acceptance of the middle ground.  Surely, the middle ground is better than that.  Unfortunately, we all know what happens to those filled with pride.

It’s time for the middle ground to be the empty acreage.  For far too long, it’s been the most occupied place on earth!  Don’t lose the truth you know by stepping in the middle ground.  Stay out of the middle ground!

If it looks evil, when then guess what, it’s evil.  If it doesn’t align itself with truth from the word of God, well then it’s falsehood.  If it dabbles in sinfulness….well then doggone it, it just isn’t on the side of truth.  There’s so much more at stake than acceptance and love.  There’s so much more ahead that requires we stand firmly on the side of truth and that the boundary between truth and the middle ground is abundantly clear.

“Those who keep their heads on straight will teach the crowds right from wrong by their example.  They’ll be put to severe testing for a season; some killed, some burned, some exiled, some robbed.  When the testing is intense, they’ll get some help, but not much.  Many of the helpers will be halfhearted at best.  The testing will refine, cleanse, and purify those who keep their heads on straight and stay true, for there is still more to come.  Daniel 11:33 (The Message)

With every move you make, look at the boundaries.  Are you in the middle ground looking back at the truth or standing in the light of the truth itself?




The Family

Around here, the holidays are a big deal.  The season brings amazing busyness and wonderful connectedness with so many people in ministry, in family and so many circles of friends.  It’s absolutely exhausting, and yet it is wonderful all at the same time.  I can’t help but reflect on what the end to the year brought with it.

Our family is big to start with.  But this year we were blessed to add to our ten kids, one daughter-in-law, a granddaughter a few extra’s like a fiance’ and a girlfriend and a “friend”.   My husband and I woke up on Christmas Day in the only place of peace in our home, our bedroom, and look at each other and said, “Here we go!”   Fifteen people to wake up to beside ourselves and a tree of blessings and loads of love to go around.

As I looked around, and I watched my man embrace the job he loves and is so serious and passionate about, the passing out of the gifts, I couldn’t help but notice this year everything has changed.  With the additional newcomers to the family this year, I don’t think I expected it to be the same ‘ole thing.  But it was different in an amazing way.

In our family we always save every gift for Christmas.  So you get your socks and underwear and your everything….and it seems like alot all at once.  So it’s always big.  But it’s usually gifts from “Dad and Mom”.  This year I noticed a whole other process had  begun to take place.  Everybody was into the ‘giving’ part!  They were so excited to give to one another!  They’ve caught on to the excitement of finding something that will float the other person’s boat.  Or the one little item they knew you needed.  It was precious.   And it was a blast!  No doubt it is alot of work, and I can’t imagine how these kids will keep it up as the family continues to grow, but for this year, to watch the giving hearts of everyone toward each other made it amazingly special.  I can honestly say that the whole group, even the new ones, showed a genuine love for everyone, as a whole, not as a part, not as a faction of what can seem like an impenetrable clan.  They all loved all.  It was so beautiful to watch.

And while we never set out to have this big family, nor did we even make plans for what it should look like, this year, it looked fabulous!   I pray it always does!  I pray they always get along, I pray their spouses always get along, and I pray they love each other with an amazing heart-gifting love.  There’s only one thing we pray for more than that.  Truly.

I’m sure it’s hard to make your way into what seems like a fortress of people when you’re new.  But if you ask those here, they’ll tell you they understand one thing about this crew.  Aside from loving each other, we care about one thing and one thing only.  We just want you to love Jesus, all for yourself, because that is the gift that knows no season, knows no one particular family, and knows no boundary.  We will love you and welcome you no matter what, but you will never receive a gift like the one  you have knowing Jesus.   The biggest family you will ever become a part of…..   The best gift you will ever get…  The greatest sense of belonging….   And your hope for years to come.

The Dress Shirt

I woke at 4:20 am today, just before my husband’s alarm went off. I snuggled a little closer to him and an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness came over me. My man of 30 years woke up, like he has almost every day of his life, and went to work to take care of his family . He would easily be a cave man if we weren’t around. My burly, strong, tough, love of my life doesn’t need frills. And as he put on his pressed dressed shirt and slipped into his engineering role for the day, I admired just who he is. He is certainly the man God gave me! And he is certainly the man God made him to be. He is a professional at work, but when he comes home and throws on those jeans and gets dirty fixing cars or building projects, he is every bit the rugged Marine who doesn’t know what “too tough” means. He is exactly who he needs to be wherever he needs to be it.

I put out his lunch and he kissed me as he left. I rustled around in my bed a few minutes before making my coffee, my kick-start for the day and the calm before the storm of life wakes up around me. I looked out at the beautiful still-night sky and know that in a short time, the rest of the house will wake up too. I couldn’t help but ponder my man’s amazing ability to adapt to his environment in order to care for us. It such a reminder to me that I need to do that for my sphere of interactions as well. And although I don’t run off to work each day, opportunities abound for me to touch and relate to everyone I’m in contact with. But it has to be as genuine and heartfelt as my husband’s desire to be wherever he needs to and do whatever he needs to because of his love of family. I need to love everyone around me enough to meet them right where they are at, to be who they need in their lives, so that I can love them to Jesus himself. It’s a responsibility I need to take as seriously as my husband does. We can’t expect people who need Jesus to come looking for us to tell them! We need to meet them where they are at, become like them in ways that touch their hearts, so they want the Jesus we have.

New testament Paul knew this. He lived in a Greek and Roman world. He faced Jew and Gentile everyday! He knew exactly this concept and the impact it would have. In 1 Corinthians 9:21-23 he explains it like this: “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (NIV)
If we aren’t who people need us to be, without compromising the Truth that we have committed to be, we may have no influence on this world at all! Do you have someone in your life who needs you to be compassionate? Do you have someone who needs you to be strong? Do you have someone who needs you to speak truth into their chaos? Maybe you have someone who just needs you to hold their hand while they walk through a tough circumstance….Be it! Change your outfit if you have to, slip into the dress shirt of the world, per se, that needs you! … that by all means possible, you might save some!


I’m one of those people who when my head hits the pillow, I start thinking.  As I lay there not sleeping, I think of the weirdest things!  I wondered about Adam and Eve and what they slept on.  I’ve got to assume they slept on the ground.  Obviously there were no beds, there were no blankets for a while, and certainly not a “sleep number!”  How do you sleep face down when you’re on the ground?  Was there a sweet soft grass field that they slept on?  Now Eve might have had it better than Adam.  When Dale and I curl up in bed, I sleep with my head on his chest/shoulder.  So I’ve got a nice place to lay my head.  So maybe Eve slept like that on Adam.  If Adam laid on his back, then did his hair get all dirty?  Maybe that didn’t bother them.  I can’t imagine a garden without dirt.  Certainly bugs from ants to spiders must have been in the garden. 

Do you all think like this when you lay down to rest?  I think almost constantly.  So these things become analytical thought processes in my mind.   The garden itself was idyllic.  And Adam and Eve were created without clothing.  So apparently any  of the things that bother me outdoors must not have bothered them.  Perhaps they were so busy communicating with God that those things just didn’t matter.  Maybe we’d do well to follow that example/idea!  If our focus is entirely on our relationship with God, we might not be so focused on our surroundings either!

That’s my exercise for today.  Whenever a grumble begins to come out of my mouth, or swirl in my mind,  I’ll plan to switch it up quick to focus on my relationship with Jesus Christ.  I bet I could get into a much better habit of praising Him in all things if I make a conscious effort to replace one behavior with another! NOTHING HINDERS MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD LIKE I DO.  Instead, I want to build that relationship. 

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee.”  Isaiah 26:3  My mind needs to be diverted from my surroundings to my Savior! Oh how often we get caught in the frustrations of our situation, or the uncomfortable-ness of our surroundings.  Instead, if we capture those thoughts, and keep our mind and focus on Him, peace abounds.  That’s my aim today!  What’s yours?  I’d love to hear from you

The Marriage

It was late, really late.  Or maybe you’d say it was early, it wasw 3:33 am.  One of the little ones was coughing a bit and it woke me up about an hour ago.  But there’s something about mid-life really that doesn’t allow you to go back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night. It only takes the slightest thing to wake me, but hours to get back to sleep.  I can see from the light of my laptop screen the inhabitants of my bed.   Snuggled between my husband and I is Lexie.  Lexie has made a habit of climbing in our bed recently.  And next to her, is my strong husband.  I notice him turning a bit and finally I whisper, “Are you just turning or are you awake too?”  He, who never seems to wake during the night, leaned up toward me and said, “I knew you needed a kiss so I woke up just for you.”  He kissed me and laid back down.

When he did, I had to laugh.  He took the lion’s share of the blankets and wrapped up to his neck.  Oh how times have changed!  It used to be I was the one wrapped in all the blankets, constantly moving close to him to stay warm. He was the one who used no blankets and slept like a man in the wilderness with his own fantastic metabolism to keep him warm. Now, he gets cozy in the blankets and I am the one throwing them off all night for the sudden feelings of tropical heat, the kind that bakes you from the inside out.  I said, “Look at you, the blanket hog!  My oh my have times changed! .”  His groggy humor rose to the occasion, “It’s insulation against all the heat you throw.” He chuckled and rolled over, back to sleep, as if our sweet exchange never happened.

I look at him with a blessed heart. It’s years of living and loving and growing that brings us to our life of today.  It’s age and understanding, it’s trials and guesswork, sometimes even fiery tempers, it’s wisdom and laughter, it’s a blessed love and tenderness that has grown us, together, tightly as one. The thought came to mind, “Is it any wonder that Christ used the marriage relationship as an example of His relationship with us? “   He knew it was an example we would understand.   Just as in the marriage relationship, a wife desires to grow closer to her husband.  She begins to become one with him in thought, she desires to please him, she doesn’t always understand him…but she wants to.  As they grow in years, she finds herself reacting in a way that would make him happy and he is a husband who is proud of her.  She is loyal, and he is strong.  He guides and directs firmly but with tenderness and she is eager to follow. Ah…yes…this is the relationship Christ wants of us. It’s continual, it’s sacrificial, it’s based on a commitment in spite of circumstances…yes, one day we will become that bride He has planned us to be. And it will be a great day!  …..Rev. 21:2!


Fall is in the air.  The cooler nights and mornings leave no doubt that summer is quickly coming to an end.  While I mourn summer’s passing, fall seems to be everyone else’s favorite time of year.  I’m not going to lie, fall is not my favorite.  Summer is.  Summer sun and ninety degrees would suit me all year long!  Fall means winter is coming.  As I ran out with a hoodie on this morning to feed the chickens, I realized the grass is greening back up again and will probably grow at a faster rate again than the hot days of summer.  That lush green grass is deceiving though.

When we first planted our grass seed almost 20 years ago, we worked hard at having a nice lawn.  We fertilized it and filled in areas that suffered.  We added seed and my husband took much pride in it.  As the years have gone on, we fought the urge because of both the cost and no longer wanting to corrupt our land with chemicals.  So from the window, it looks great.  But as you walk farther from the house, you can see the weeds much more clearly than the actual grass.  The weeds grow prolifically where the grass fills only the places the weeds haven’t.  In the daylight, looking straight down, we definitely have a country lawn!

Later in the evening, as I made my way out in the dark to lock the chickens back up, my flashlight shined a good sized round circle of light on the ground.  I specifically noticed that in the diffuse light, the grass looked pretty good.  The weeds weren’t nearly as noticeable in the artificial light as they were in the bright daylight.  It almost made me feel better about our sorry looking lawn!

I couldn’t help but think of that flashlight circle for a while.  I had just reminded my Tuesday morning Bible Study group that light and dark can not co-exist.  But the lawn kind of threw me here.  Even though my flashlight penetrated the darkness, it didn’t reveal what the daylight did.  It may have been some light in the darkness, which then means it’s no longer completely dark, but it wasn’t a revealing light like the daylight.

I wonder what would happen if we examined every area of our lives with the bright daylight, the true light of God’s word, versus the soft artificial light that we’ve become accustomed to calling “light”.   It’s a harsher light, no doubt.  It’s a serious light, for sure.  True light cannot co-exist with darkness.  Holy can never co-exist with un-holy.  Putting everything through the daylight test can truly show us how weedy and deceiving the lawn of our lives really is.  Are you up for the exposition?  The only way to truly examine our lives is to expose it to the light of God’s word, and the only way to experience that light, get in the Word.  The weeds will be a lot more noticeable!

Abigail-like Judgement

My daughter was standing in my bedroom doorway.  She was asking yet again if we could purchase a piece to an old game system we have.  I was trying to do the motherly balancing act of being understanding, but not saying yes.  I know there are at least three of those pieces in the house somewhere.  And I know it’s not her fault no one knows where they are.  Yet, they are here somewhere, likely a box that remains unpacked from when we moved here.  To make matters more complicated, I had seen this request coming and I had already purchased one of these pieces to put in her Easter basket, just a week away.  Now she was trying to wear me down in that doorway.

Now, if she were to ask her dad, it would be a different response altogether.  He would have surely dismissed her with a “I don’t care if you ever find the controller for that game system.  Video games are the death of a generation!”  I was hoping to quell her persistence before he arrived home from work for the day.  I offered to go to the basement and start looking with her.  Certainly not what was on my agenda, or on my stove which should have been full of tonight’s dinner by now.   It settled her spirit for the moment.  How I’ll keep her settled for a week remains to be seen.

Balancing people and issues is often a woman’s job.  Since we are women, we can “feel” what needs to happen.  And then we have to take those feelings and mix them up with the thoughts and actions of those around us and make a decision as to what our part is.  Making good judgements about what to do next is in itself a discipline not for the faint of heart.

In a series that I’ve wanted to do on some of the lesser known women of the Bible, I came across Abigail.  As I read her story, I could feel her angst over “what to do.”  Abigail was married to a man named Nabal.  Nabal was an ornery man.  Have  you ever known anyone married to an ornery, cranky husband.  Not only is she on edge, but as a friend it is hard to be around her sometimes because he is likely to embarrass her with his grumpiness.  At some point, you know you’ve said this about someone else’s husband:  “I’m so glad I’m not married to that man! I don’t know how she can live with him!”   That is how I think Abigail had to feel…all the time.  In Samuel 25, we see that Nabal was a wealthy man.  He had lots of sheep and lots of hired hands.  When the hired hands had been out in the fields with the sheep, David (who wasn’t yet King), had pretty much been surrounding Nabal’s men who had enjoyed the comfort of having protection around them.  David’s men had been kind.  They didn’t take Nabal’s sheep or slaves, they even shared food and provisions with them.  Now, David wanted to move his men and so he sends a messenger down to Nabal and basically asks if he and his men can move that way and be treated well by Nabal. He asks Nabal to welcome him and provide for him, since he had treated Nabal’s men well in the fields.  Well Nabal is his ornery, cranky self and  sends word that he is not about to share any of his bounty with David’s men.  And David’s blood boils!  He is so frustrated he plans to slaughter Nabal and his men!

When Abigail gets word of what happened from a terrified servant, she probably feels that tug-o-war that I felt with my daughter in the doorway, knowing my husband would be home any minute.  Should she interfere?  Should she mind her own business?  Why did Nabal have to be this way all the time anyway!?  Then, in a judgement fitting a very careful and wise woman, Abigail gathers a massive amount of goodies and she takes it to David and his people.  David, who was descending on Nabal’s land at that very moment is quickly appeased.  Abigail, who hadn’t even told her husband what she was doing, had ultimately saved her home and the bloodshed of many.  God, knew though.  In a few days, her husband Nabal is struck dead by God himself.  David, who would become king of Israel, eventually takes Abigail as his wife.

Have you ever felt the anxiety of knowing what was happening in a situation, but no one else seemed to be able to see it?  Those are the moments to quietly analyze what’s happening and make a wise decision.  Sometimes these are feelings that only a woman has about a situation because of our “intuitive” design.   We can learn from Abigail by what she does do, and what she does not do.  What she does not do is run around screaming that they are in a crisis! She doesn’t escalate the situation.  She does not just close herself in a room and wait.  She doesn’t just cry and sit on her hands.   She actively seeks to run interference when it is needed.  She didn’t even alert her husband because he might have forbid it.  Knowing when your hands are tied and knowing when they aren’t takes wisdom.

Are you a peace maker?  Are you able to bring sense to a situation that seems to be spiraling out of control?  Can you see what is needed?  Pray for wisdom to make a judgement call and then make a good one!  Do not be afraid!  You may have to face an army, but if you’re obedient to God’s plan, trust He sees and will have the final say.