But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

2 Corinthians 2:14

Manufacturers spend millions on finding just the right scent for their lotions, soaps, and perfumes. One laundry detergent company’s fragrance is so recognizable other products claim to have that aroma in them as well.

The scent of soap or shampoo not only fills our noses with a pleasant smell but lets others know we have just been cleaned as well. That fresh-out-of-the-shower is attractive. Ask any romance writer…

Flowering bushes let off pleasant smells in the breeze drawing people to stop and take a whiff. Air fresheners make our houses smell inviting and clean. They welcome people in. A pleasing aroma can turn a frown upside down.

When we have been cleansed of our sins, we emit a spiritual aroma that is attractive to others as well. People take notice that we are different. There is a glow about our faces. A peacefulness emits from our soul. Love and forgiveness shine in our eyes because we have just received them from our Lord.

Just like the fabric spray or a scented candle, the scent lingers. But on this side of eternity it never lasts, does it? Just as we need to shower often, we need to be cleansed of our sins often. Otherwise, the stench of the world will cling to us. Others won’t be as drawn to us. Our witness becomes stale.

We all need a good scrubbing now and then. Ask any mom of a teenage boy…

Take time daily to let the Lord wash away your sins from your soul, just as you take time to remove the grime and sweat from your body. That way, when you head out into the world, others will notice–IN A GOOD WAY.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Psalm 51:2


Palindromes are words or phrases that read the same way forward or backward. Examples are pop, mom, radar, and murdrum ( which is a devious, secretive murder).

Speaking of devious, secretive murders…in my newest mystery, which releases this Friday, palindromes are clues to a new crime wave in my fictitious small town of Scrub Oak, Tx. Here is a snippet…

https://amzn.to/3rTkY6w only 99 cents in ebook now through 2/11/22

Do you know what’s the world’s longest palindrome?” Her friend’s eyes twinkled with mischief.

“No. Tell me.” Wanda’s interest perked. She loved words and word puzzles. Perhaps she should have been a teacher as well. Or a detective. After all, in the past year, she had helped solve several murders and burglaries in Scrub Oak, Texas, their small town forty-five minutes south of Fort Worth. 

“It’s saippuakivikauppias.” Betty Sue peered over her reading glasses with a smug professor expression.

“What?” Wanda scrunched her nose. “Spell it.”

Betty Sue took her pen and wrote the word out on her score pad. It was so long she had to wrap it around the corner and down the side.

“Is that real word?” Wanda tried to mouth it out.

“Yes. It is for a person who deals in lye.”

“As in falsehoods?”

“No, Wanda. L-y-e. Like tanning hides. It is Finnish, as in from Finland, not as in completing something.”

Wanda swatted at her hand. “Betty Sue Simpson, I’ll tan your hide. It’s not even English.”


Enough of the blatant commercial… but having lived with palindromes over the past year while writing and reviewing my publisher’s edits on this book, I have realized how many times I can misread things. Or see things backward.

When I see my predicament from my perspective, limited by the “now”, I can become introspective and depressed. But viewing it from God’s perspective, which encompasses both the now and tomorrow, would be totally different. Romans 8:28 tells us And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (ESV).

Hindsight views of my life prove this out. Hindsight doesn’t require faith, though. Foresight does. So I have a choice in how I view whatever is happening. I can choose to see it for what I think it is, colored by my emotions, or I can draw on my faith and envision it according to God’s promise in His Word as proven out through past actions. Jesus gave us two choices in Matthew 6:25-33 – be anxious or seek Him. Worry due to our limited understanding or trust based on the evidence of God’s caring love for His own.

My main character in the Wordplay Mysteries, Wanda, relies on retrospective clues to solve crimes. I rely on retrospective proof that God is there and He cares to live my life. He has acted in the past and will act again. Even if I cannot see it spelled out right now, I can trust it to be so. Such is the mystery of His Word.

Contemporary Christian artists CAIN agree with me as stated in their song, “YES HE CAN.” The fact that my local station began playing this a lot while I’ve been going through a rough patch has not escaped my attention. Another small way God gives me a hug of encouragement.

Hearing it brings me boosts my faith. I pray it does for you as well.


I feed him twice a day and make sure he has water. I give him fresh bedding and keep his environment between 65F-75F so he stays healthy. I talk with him and hold him. Slowly, this little furry friend has grown to trust and rely on me, a big giant human that towers over him like a mountain and could squish him with my stomp. I don’t speak guinea pig, yet he understands my tone and my gentle, caring touch. He responds to the sound of my voice and perks up when he realizes I am in his presence. And when he becomes startled by a loud noise, I pick him up and cuddle him until his heartbeat settles again.

While I am home, I raise the door on his cage and he never tries to escape. Though I do sense he enjoys me being nearby as I work at my computer because he makes chortles and wheeks to get my attention.

Cavies, as guinea pigs are often called, are timid creatures. Their tendency is to hide from predators, especially ones that swoop down from above. They prefer strong boundaries, such as caves or tunnels. So it amazes me that one of them would actually bond to this big ol’ human on two feet that soars above him and can pick him up in one hand. But, it happened fairly quickly.

Still, I wonder what goes on in his tiny, fur-covered brain. Would I be satisfied if our roles were reversed? Could I live in a cage, totally dependent on someone to take care of me and see that I received what I need each day to survive? Would I be content or crave freedom? Would I be compliant or rebel?

Then I sucked in a breath as I realized I am like my guinea pig. My cage is the boundaries set by the Word of God. As long as I stay within them, I am secure and safe. God provides my every need (Matthew 6:25-33) if I seek Him as my Savior. He holds me and carries me, protects me, and comforts me as my great Shepherd. And do I dare say He smiles when I realize He is present in my life? Scripture tells me He does.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Our human brains fool us into believing we can survive on our own, be independent, and not need anyone else for our survival. Our hearts and souls tell us differently. Freedom is not doing what we what when we want. It is the ability to roam safely and securely within our given, natural limits. Contentment comes once we realize it.

Lord, help me be more like a guinea pig, trusting in your protective, caring love and staying within the safe boundaries of your Word and the guidance of your Holy Spirit. Let me crave the sound of your voice in my soul, and respond to you in prayer and supplication, praise, and thanksgiving. May I always feel your presence in my life, more caring than any human touch. Instill in me total trust that you will provide for me and never leave me. Thank you for all you have and will provide. Amen.

courtesy Liane Metzler unspash.com


Photo by Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash

At one o’clock in the afternoon on the first Tuesday of the month, the tornado sirens go off…this is a test.

I listen to the radio and a song is interrupted by a whaaa, whaaa, whaaa. “This is a test of the emergency broadcast company…”

A digital sign on the highway tells me if there is a wreck up ahead. My GPS asks if I want an alternate route.

A sign in a commercial building tells me the floor is slippery when wet. My apartment complex puts out a sign saying we are going to have freezing temperatures and to drip our faucets. The weatherman interrupts a television program to tell us bad weather is barrelling down.

Everywhere we look, there are warning signs. Watch out, something unexpected, probably bad, is coming.

And we pay heed, if we are smart.

Except, sometimes in life the unpredictable happens. Without warning. The phone call we never wanted to get. The report from the doctor. The lay off from our boss.

For me, it has been the news that I need two surgeries, which will lay me up for another two, perhaps three months. I’ve had to quit my job, I don’t qualify for unemployment, and I have no short-term disability. I have a meager savings stored up, thank the Lord, that I have been relying upon to make ends meet for two months now. And will for three or so more months. I pray not longer than that.

I read in the Bible to trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5), that His ways or not ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), that He won’t forsake me (Psalm 9:10), and He will provide so not to be anxious (Mathew 6:25-33). He is my help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1), and not to be shaken because He is at my right hand (Psalm 16:8).

My brain goes there, and my tongue expresses those verses in reassurance. But my heart hasn’t quite absorbed it yet. So, I keep speaking into it.

Yes, this is a test…

There is a newer song by CAIN that pierces my soul. “Yes, He did so Yes, He can.” My local radio station, KJRN 88.3FM plays it often at the moment (thank you, The Journey!) so when it comes on I ask my smart speaker to crank up the volume. It lifts me back into the attitude my faith calls me to embrace.

God has always been faithful in the past. He will be now, such is His gracious nature. He knows all, and He’s got this. My part in all this?

T-R-U-S-TTotal Reliance Under Stressful Times.

No matter what is tumbling down the road toward you, trust. Despite the odds, trust. When you can’t see the road for the fog, trust.

Someone’s eyes are better than yours. He sees the future. He looks into your heart. The Lord knows how and when to show you through tiny serendipities that HE IS THERE AND HE CARES.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you (Psalm 9:10).

Get A Handle

I have often heard, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” But, once I learned I’ve got to battle some pretty tough times ahead, I grabbed onto my social media friend, Jo Ann Ruth Prevatt’s idea:

She wrote that God’s grace keeps pace with what we face. I like that. God gives us what we need to handle life. In other words, He provides just what we need when we need it.

I recall the monkey bars on my elementary school playground. I had to dangle several feet off the ground and grab the handle in front of me. Once I became sure I had a good grasp, I’d let go of the one behind and swing to grasp the next one. The goal was to make it all the way across to the ladder on the other side.

co wayfair

In life, I don’t always see the ladder at the other end, but I can see the next handle. God doesn’t ask me to “let go” before I grasp the next one. There is security each step of the way, and my faith tells me there will be an end to whatever I am to handle. And if I slip, my LORD is there to grab me, then hoist me up to the next handle. And can almost hear his encouraging whisper, “It’s okay. You’re doing great. Keep going.”

His grace keeps pace…

What do you need to grasp onto today to keep from giving up and falling hard? Whatever you need to handle, know that there is Someone who doesn’t want to leave you dangling in midair. He will give you the strength you need to move forward, and handle one “handle” at a time. Keep going. There is an end. You will be victorious.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory (Psalm 73:24).

String the Lights

Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

I remember it all too well. Dad, grumbling, down on his hands and knees, moving along the wires of Christmas tree lights strewn across the floor. He had to test each one to see which one had burned out, causing the rest to not shine. Rarely did the culprit appear in the first ten or so bulbs. And once he found the burnt-out one, replacing it presented its own challenge. No two red ones next to each other. Heaven forbid! Mom had a strict pattern — red, blue, yellow, green, white. We used to hide the replacements in a small box behind the garland on the mantle just in case …

However, in a way, I think it describes the individualistic attitude that has become so prevalent in our society. We claim to not need each other. We want to do our own thing and if we don’t follow the norm, it’s okay. It is the way we are wired.

Today, the tree lights are individually wired so if one, or two, or ten go out, it doesn’t affect the rest of the strand. Modern technology at work. I am sure many folks appreciate the invention. I have to admit it is a time saver!

There is an old saying that states, “Christ unites, Satan divides.” From the Garden of Eden on down to today, it has been proven to be true. There is a reason believers are called the Body of Christ. We are not supposed to exist independently but are united in His love. It binds us together and flows through us so we can shine brightly into a dark and cold world.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ ... Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it (I Corinthians 12:12 & 27, ESV).

When life happens to one of us that makes our light dim, we need the energy of the others to help us shine again. We need that connection of the Holy Spirit flowing through us. Not everyone can be strong and positive all the time. We are not wired that way. We humans need each other, rely upon each other and naturally band together in groups. John Donne had it correct when he wrote over 400 years ago that no one is an island.

Photo by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world … (Philippians 2:14-15, ESV)

As long as we live on this broken planet, darkness will linger on the edges, slowly seeping in. This season, be the light of love that points to Jesus the same way the star over the manager pointed people to Him 2000 years ago. May this darkest time of the year (Winter solstice) be the brightest one in your heart and gleam into those around you, be it the widow next door, the frenzied store clerk, the moody teen, or the grouchiest person in the office.

Uphold those who believe, and encourage those who do not. Shine the love of Christ into others’ lives and you might find yourself shining a tad brighter as well.

Now everyone, join hands and sing, “This little light of mine…”

Have a bright, shiny, beautiful Christmas season.

What’s in a Name?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)

Names are important. They are how we are identified. Our name makes us distinct in a crowd. The next time you are served by a person at the cash register, bank, or in a restaurant, call them by name and watch their face light up.

If you are a parent you probably didn’t name your child randomly. The name you chose had a reason. Some of us have names with special meanings. Maybe the name itself means something like faithful, or loyal or trustworthy. Perhaps it is the name of a beloved ancestor or relative. Or even an event.

Some names are special, like Daddy, Nana, Grandpa, Mom. They describe our relationship with that person.

Many people may share your name, but that doesn’t make it less yours. When your family or friends speak your name, they are thinking of only you–who you are and what you mean to them.

When we call upon the name of the Lord, and we trust in His name, what does that mean? It means we realize He is who He says He is. More than that, we believe it with all our hearts. We rely on it.

In the New Testament, His name is Jesus (God saves), Messiah, Redeemer, The Truth, The Way, the Bread of Life, the Son of Man, the Perfect Lamb who takes away sin. One day His name will be on all lips as they bow and proclaim Jesus as Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).

God has many names in the Old Testament, too—most of them describing His attributes. Here is a list:

Which one means the most to you right now? Do you need to know He will provide, bring peace, heal, or shepherd you? Do you need to be reminded that He is Almighty, or that He is there and He cares?

Tuck this list away in your Bible. The next time you pray, call upon the name of the Lord that relates to your situation so you can be reminded who He is and will always be.

And never forget He knows you by your name as well. Why? You matter to Him (Isaiah 43:1). You are His precious creation.

May that bring you strength and comfort.

Daily Challenge

Almost everyday, I play a solitaire game of Tripeaks on my phone. It helps me unwind. I choose the Daily Challenge because it is guaranteed to be winable. However, that doesn’t mean that I always win. But when I do, I get a crown and my phone plays a “tah-dah” tune.

Whether I win or lose that day is a matter of choice. A two can play on an ace or a three. A king can play on a queen or an ace. The order I play the cards determines the outcome of the game.

lsn’t this true of our daily lives? Each day we are faced with a myriad of choices, some large but most are small. The option we choose can determine the outcome of our day. And how we choose to react can color our mood. A friend of mine posted on Facebook, “Why is it that my clothes snag on the doorknob only when I am having a bad day?”

Knowing the game can be won in my solitaire app, I have the option to start over. This time, I can change my choices. Play on the queen instead of the ace. If that doesn’t work, I go back and keep trying until I figure out how to win.

However, in life, you can’t always reset the game and try again, can you? No do-overs. No back space key. No rewinds…

Unless you are a Christian.

I am not saying that events can suddenly “unhappen” when we accept Jesus as Lord. How we react to them makes the difference, though. When life gets tough do we blame God or do we seek the option to trust He can make something good come out of it? Do we choose to rely on Him to help make the daily challenges winable or back away and try to handle it the best we can? Which card do we play–The King or another one?

Proverbs 3:5-6 states:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

We cannot always stop to pray in a situation. Some need a split-second decision. But if we already have our mind focused on doing God’s will during the day, and if we tune our souls into the Holy Spirit for guidance, chances are we will choose the correct option.

And if we don’t, then we can fall to our knees, confess it, and seek forgiveness—from Him first and then from others—because we believe Christ came into the world to save sinners.

Either way, it can make life a winable journey and the prize at the end is a crown. Tah-dah!

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Do You Want Change?

I the Lord do not change. Malachi 3:6

The register rang up $19.98. I handed the cashier a $20 bill. She asked, “Do you want change?”

I smiled. “Not really, but nothing stays the same does it?”

We both laughed.

Oh, how we hate change…

Isn’t it strange that we so greatly resist, even dislike, change when life on earth is always changing?

Babies grow into toddlers, then to kids, then to teens, and hopefully into competent adults. Even then, our bodies continue to change. Our metabolism slows, our skin wrinkles, our bellies widen. Our joints ache, and our stamina lessens.

The seasons change, right? Temperatures dip, leaves turn colors, and rains pound, then maybe snow falls. Temps rise and the squiggly miraging heat on the pavement make us wilt and dream of cool streams and sandy beaches.

The moon waxes and wanes, tides ebb and flow, and rivers slowly carve out a new course. Flowers bloom, then wilt. Seeds push through the gorund and grow into plants. Catepillars turn into butterflies.

Political opinions change. Social standards change. Fashions change. So do relationships, friendships, and the desire to keep vows.

And still we resist…

If change bothers you, look to the One who never changes. Only things that are eternal remain the same:

God’s love

God’s grace

God’s mercy

Christ’s death that eradicates confessed sins.

The Holy Spirit’s guidance.

CAUTION: when you seek the things eternal and set your mind on the things that are above instead of earthly things, as Paul states in Colossians 3:2 , you are going to change. Sorry, but it’s true. And that’s okay.

You will be less stressed. Less anxious. Less swayed by emotional ups and downs. Calmer, more at peace, and joyful. Things will have a positive reflection instead of a negative influence. Your posture will be more upright and your step lighter. Your burden will seem less heavy. People may even react to you differently.

Do you want change?


I hear it in sermons, read about it in devotionals, and have written about it myself: positivity.

There is so much negativity in today’s world. Listen to any news cast for thirty seconds–longer if you can hack it–or eavesdrop on a conversation amongst people. It is all about what is wrong, what they don’t like, or who they can’t trust. It is an epidemic in our society these days.

Negativity blocks the Holy Spirit, clogs the creative flow, and stagnates us from moving forward to view beyond the situation to the possibilities.

According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, the health benefits of positive thinking are:

  • Increased life span.
  • Lower rates of depression.
  • Lower levels of distress.
  • Greater resistance to the common cold.
  • Better psychological and physical well-being.
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress.

So, I was totally surprised to find the word “positive” is not in the Bible. I did a search in ten translations through BibleGateway. The closest thing that pops up is one of my personal go-to verses:

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

In fact, my first novel Focused was written with this verse in mind.

That made me wonder…Is there ever a time negativity can be a good thing? I think so.


The Bible is very clear that suffering can lead to a deeper faith. I Peter talks greatly of this. Christ suffered. So will we.

But there can be a positive result–through the negative act that brings suffering can sprout deep joy, a meaningful purpose, and God’s mercy. Often times, people seek God when they are in despair. Then they let go and let Him intervene. Their faith is strengthened.

Think of a battery. It takes both the negative and positive ends to charge. If something negative spurs you into prayer, then that can be good. It can charge your spirit to want to do something about it. See God’s glory through it. However, the move through the negative to the positive has to occur in order for the benefit to happen. Putting all your energy at the negative end won’t get you very far. In fact, it could be diasterous.

Not to end on a negative note, I am positive that is true.

%d bloggers like this: