Self Assessment

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

                                             Revelation 3:6


I have always been fascinated by personality tests like Myers Briggs (I’m an ISFJ), Personality Plus (it’s been a while but I believe I was a Peaceful Phlegmatic but I think I’ve changed some since), and the Four Quadrant Personality Matrix of Analyzer, Controller, Supporter (c’est moi), Promoter, to name a few. My new team recently took a personality quiz (Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, and Beaver) at work to help us get to know each other better, even though I’d taken the test about eight months prior. Interestingly, I went from being primarily a Golden Retriever with Beaver a close second to reversing those two assessments.


I consider myself quite self-aware (sometimes even overly), and love exploring chances to be aware of my blind spots and “opportunities”. I also get insight as to how those with whom I interact at work, or even live with at home, are motivated and how they view interactions and people.


I’m well aware that there are those who don’t like such tests, as they feel that such tests put a label on them, or that the test results are so generic that they can apply really anyone. And that’s okay; to each his own.


There is a “test” that I would like us all to consider…well, more of a self-assessment, if you will. This came up this past Sunday in Sunday School as we were discussing if modern America’s churches carried the proverbial flag of “Jesus Christ is Lord.” I questioned rhetorically if our church did, and to take it one step further—with which church of the seven addressed in Revelation 2 and 3 do we as a church identify?

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Survivor’s Guilt and Hope

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

                                             Romans 8:28


Back in May of 2001, when I had been working at USAA for almost 15 years, I moved from a management job in a call center area into the world of projects and project managers. It was an utterly different skillset and thought process, and I was overwhelmed but thrilled to be in my new area and learning new things.


A mere six weeks later in July, USAA had its first ever round of layoffs. I was convinced that I would be one of the first to go, given the typical “last in-first out” type of action that I wouldn’t have faulted anyone for. The day that it happened, we were all told to stay at our desks and that management would be calling those who’d been laid off (my team was especially skittish and worried, as our Assistant Vice President had been let go just days before when layoffs at the executive level had begun). Meetings were cancelled and everyone just sat at their desks, praying for their phone not to ring. As the day passed, two of my co-workers were called and the remaining were told to go home for the day to allow them to clean out their desks in peace and privacy. The layoffs were complete, and I was left unscathed. Well, I was left unscathed physically, since I got to keep my employment; but mentally…that was another story.


Even though the layoffs were difficult and unheard of prior to this time, those of us who remained understood that they were a necessary evil, albeit traumatic for most involved (some of the more tenured employees who were close to early retirement were able to retire early with a full benefits package, so I don’t think that they were overly traumatized at all). My mind still reeling at the unfathomable thought that I got to stay as such a newbie in that area and others had to leave, I would walk through the halls where friends from other areas would tell me that they were glad to see me, and I’d tell them that I was glad to be seen! The company even brought in counselors to help those who suffered from survivor’s guilt. I did not partake of the counseling at the time, though admittedly I probably should have. I continued in my new job, going through training to learn it as well as a couple of other roles, to do what I could to ensure that my value to the company was left intact so that if subsequent layoffs or RIFs (reduction in force) occurred (which they did and I survived each time). Survivor’s guilt motivated me to make sure that the company would be pleased with the choice they made to hang on to me.

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Worries Be Gone!

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6: 27 & 34


I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.

                           Psalm 34:4       


When I was pregnant with Troy, I had all the routine prenatal tests done. I was told by the doctor’s office that no news was good news, and when I didn’t hear anything after having been out of town for a week, I breathed the proverbial sigh of relief and prepared to get ready to go in to work in the afternoon (I worked the late afternoon and evening shift. It was a killer on a pregnant woman with sciatica!). When the phone rang mid-preparation and it was my OBGYN’s office, telling me that I had to have an ultrasound, apprehension flooded me.


I was to drink 32 ounces of water before the ultrasound that was scheduled for later that afternoon, and I was not allowed to go to the bathroom until after the appointment. As I lay on the table, the clear gel allowing the ultrasound wand to glide over my belly, all of the what-ifs raced frantically through my mind. I had returned to church only a year and a half early, and had not walked that far with the Lord. My husband was stoic as he held my hand, and we endured the ultrasound, looking for any positive sign on the technician’s face.

And then we heard her say, ever so quietly, “oh no.”


After those two words hit my brain, all I wanted to do was yell, “You don’t say that in the company of a pregnant woman who is freaked out at the thought of something being wrong with her baby—don’t they teach you that in technician school?!?” Of course I didn’t. We asked her what was wrong. She said that she couldn’t tell me, but that there was some abnormality, and that she would have to get the doctor. She excused herself and left us our lives and sanity hanging frozen in the air around the table. We were both silent as we waited for the doctor to come over and look at the screen to interpret what the technician had seen.

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Even If

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Daniel 3:17-18 


“What if” = fear.

“Even if” = faith.

I found that saying on Pinterest when I was looking last week on what to put on the church marquee (I would’ve put it on there, too, if I’d had one more of the letter Q, since we don’t have an equal sign… sigh).

This quote resonated with me, and immediately brought to mind the story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. You’ll remember the three young Jews brought into the service of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in his defeat of Judah. These three were found to have violated the king’s decree of bowing down to the large gold image of Nebuchadnezzar, and were brought before the king to explain themselves, and to listen to the king give them one more chance to bow to his image, or else they would be thrown into a blazing furnace.

I have always been in awe of their response, and frankly, a little envious, too. I never imagined having the comfort and courage with which to say, “But even if…” to any situation I have faced, much less a life-or-death matter such as the ones they faced, straight to the person issuing the decree.

How about you?

Walking the Talk

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

                          Matthew 5:14-16



We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.  Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word, love for God truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

                           1 John 2:3-6


I have started to follow a Christian satire sight on Facebook by the name of the The Babylon Bee. It’s similar to The Onion, and just as clever. Its satirical articles are maybe 150-200 words at best. Some examples of the headlines include “Church Seniors Involved in Low Speed Race to Golden Corral”, “Church Tech Team Introduces Helpful Bouncing Sing-Along Ball”, “Satan Promises to Match All Donations for Jesse Duplantis’s New Private Jet”, and “Bill Clinton: ‘I thought #MeToo Was a Pokemon’”. The writing is ingenious and witty, and frankly some of the most creative writing I’ve ever read. (On a serious note, though, their Good Friday article entitled “Report: It Is Finished” moved me to tears and demonstrated their beliefs in our Lord Jesus Christ). The articles are clever, and the Facebook comments are themselves treasures.


Sometimes the content hits so close to how the world perceives Christians that people jokingly comment that they can’t find the satire in it. One such example is a little blurb I read a couple of hours ago entitled “During After-Church Lunch at Applebee’s, Local Christian Scolds Waiter for Working on Sunday.” It jokingly included such comments as the woman telling the waiter, “Why are you not at church? Don’t you know today is the Lord’s Day?” the woman said, raising a judgmental eyebrow. “Also, bring me another salad. This one’s all wilted and not fresh at all. Honestly, who runs this place?”. She further wonders aloud (after sending back her entrée a third time) why restaurants are open on Sunday in the first place, blaming the phenomenon on “our godless culture”, and later grumbles, “This place we’re eating at should be closed to honor the Lord.” The satire piece ends with “Sources also claim [the lady] left a dollar tip, later revealed to be a gospel tract rather than actual, legal tender.”

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Abba Father

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,Father.

                          Galatians 4:6


And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 

                           Romans 8:15b-16


Now that I am at a point in my life where I feel like I’ve at least passed the midway mark, I realize that life’s days have seemed to have flown fly by, like the image of a desk calendar pages rapidly blowing off in old black and while movies to mark the passage of time.


My two children are on my mind a lot, especially in my early morning devotional time when I can stare at the various school-age photos of them on the large wall going up the staircase. I’m thankful to recall when each of those pictures were taken, both formal school poses and informal action shots of childhood activity. I’m completely smitten with them, both when they were children and now as adults, and I love them with a fierceness of a Mama Bear.


Since they are adults and have their own lives (25 and 20, living in their own apartment and home, respectively), I am always thrilled when I get to spend some quality time with them, either individually or together. The conversations now are obviously quite different. Since they are fewer and farther between than when the boys were young (logistics and stages in life being what they are), so I am thrilled to pieces when they do happen. I enjoy their company so much, and look forward to Sunday afternoons when Greg comes over and we all play games and have fun.

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And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.                     

Acts 13:22       


With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

                           Psalm 119:10-11


“David is both the man we want to be, and the man we are.” I heard this statement while listening to a radio sermon about David, and was immediately intrigued. I listened intently to the message, and knew that I would have to get into the Old Testament more than I’d ever been before. I wanted to know more about the man who was after God’s own heart.

You may be familiar with the story of how the Lord anointed David future king of Israel while David was in his youth. It is during the anointing that the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.

I’m sure that most of us know the story of how young David killed Goliath with just a single stone when none of the men in Saul’s army took up that challenge for forty days. Righteous anger, confidence, and faith in God were the provisions of his success.

As a young man, David was referred to as one “who is skillful in playing (the harp), a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the LORD is with him.”

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He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

                           Psalm 91:1       

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”

 Isaiah 43: 1b-3a


“Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

                           Habakkuk 3: 17-18  



I’ve grappled over the past couple of weeks because I was unsure what to write about. I had not gotten a clear message from Him in my prayers and quiet time, and frankly had not had the chance to sit in front of the computer to write because of some health-related and professional challenges of late. Those challenges still exist, and I almost passed on the chance to do so tonight, since I still didn’t have a clear idea of what in the world to write. I sorely missed writing last week’s devotional and wanted to make sure that I sent something out this week.


My last devotional was about a temporary loss of the immeasurable joy that comes from above. I would love to partake of my own words and cling to that joy as if my life depended on it.


But I struggle at times, and I’m confident that you do as well.


There’s a lot going on, y’all: health, family, and job concerns; political and economic woes; societal horrors and injustice. But those aren’t the only ones—there are the small, piddly things that can impact our peace—traffic, a misbehaving pet, a fight with a family member—annoyances that, when combined, have the cumulative effect of making one weary.

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Theft of Joy

 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10                 

“…He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

                       1 John 4:4


My apologies for having not written devotionals the past couple of weeks—I have traveled for work twice in the past two weeks and was not able to get things going. But I’m here now!!


I had the opportunity near the end of March to be on a team that worked on a women’s Walk to Emmaus, a 72-hour spiritual retreat that some of you have attended. I was blessed with the opportunity to meet and bond with women I’d never met before. We laughed together, cried together, shared our struggles and our pain, broke bread together, and felt the workings of the Holy Spirit in the mending of broken hearts. It was a cloistered environment, insulated from the distractions of our every day lives. We were unencumbered by perceptions and politics, as we felt God’s love permeating our shared experiences. I drew great strength from making people laugh, and belly laugh we all did.


Once we were back in the proverbial wild, returning to our jobs and our families, it was a struggle at times to keep the life I knew before this Walk to Emmaus at bay and maintain the lightness and joy I’d experienced during those three days. Mind you, I’ve done this before—I’ve been blessed to work a number of Walks, each one special and different yet the same, and I’ve handled “reentry” to my regular life just fine. This time, things were a bit different. Work threw me a curve ball or two, and some pruning and conviction from the Lord left me unsettled (add to that some poking from the enemy, and you’ve got a recipe for a quite deflated Laura).

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On the Surface

 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.                          

Galations 6:2            


And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works

                              Hebrews 10:23

I was fortunate enough to be able to go to a conference in Boston last year with a co-worker. My friend “Sally” and I had worked together some, and even shared a cubicle, but I didn’t know a whole lot about her, and vice versa. Having never been to Boston, we planned to get there early to have some time to knock around the city and become “wicked smaht”, taking in a game at Fenway, noshing on “chowdah” and exploring that historic city on foot (I kid you not—my Fitbit recorded over 27,000 steps one day!).

It was at the restaurant and bar of that classic Boston sitcom Cheers that Sally and I ordered a beer and some appetizers on that first evening, and we opened up a bit to each other. I’d always admired her calm demeanor and the pictures of her adult children – a young man and young woman, both of whom seemed to love taking pictures with their adorable parents, based on the number of family pictures on Sally’s desk. Sally’s husband was a believer, and they attended church together every Sunday. Sally never said a bad word, was gracious, and was never afraid to admit a knowledge or experience deficiency, but always sought to learn and grow.


Perhaps it was lateness of the evening after a long flight; perhaps it was the headiness of the beer that loosened my tongue, but I told Sally that it seemed to me that she lived a charmed life. She smiled a knowing smile and said that it sure did seem that way. I was either too tired or too slow, but I didn’t pick up on the nuance of what that meant.

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