The Land of Algebra

So I have a confession…I am not good at math.  In fact, I barely passed Elementary Algebra in college.  

When the letters show up alongside a number, it throws my brain into tornadic activity, swirling around and destroying any hope of solving the problem. Pretty soon the Wicked Witch of the West, with her smug “I knew it look”,  shows up riding her bicycle and laughing wickedly at my inability to process the letters with numbers. To top it off, she knows she is going to get Toto, because my brain won’t be able to hang on much longer.

There are, however, some math skills I do remember.  Like “is” means “equal to.”  And let me tell you, knowing that has come in handy when reading the Bible.

Did you know there are two “equal to” statements in 1 John? 

  1. Sin=Lawlessness (3:4)
  2. God=Love (4:16)

Knowing these “equal to” statements has helped me through periods of “unequal to” circumstances, when I didn’t think life was fair and I didn’t have much hope it ever would be.

When I remember sin is lawlessness, I can put temptation behind me.  As an Enneagram 1, I prefer to be “law abiding”.  My sense of right and wrong doesn’t hover in the balance when I approach sin as lawlessness.  

AND it prompts me to remember James 1:14-15 (NIV), “…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown, gives birth to death.”  Sounds frightening doesn’t it?  And then to add some more to the equation, Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” (NIV)

It doesn’t seem like there is a solution to this sin=lawlessness problem.  If I am tempted and go my own way and continually give in to lawlessness,   I just keep spinning around in the tornado of  hopelessness.

Hallelujah!  There is a solution!  As I continue to work on the problem, I find that God=Love.  He is the solution to my sin=lawlessness problem, and He solved it by sending His only Son to die in MY place for MY sin.  (Talk about life not being fair!)

Because God is love and because He is perfect, I don’t have to be afraid.  Perfect love drives out fear. (1John 4:18 NIV).  He loves me perfectly and is the solution to every spiritual math equation (sin) I find hard to solve.  He gives me hope in the midst of the E5 tornado spinning my life and losing grip on Toto.  

When I find myself in the whirlwind of self-pity and life-isn’t-fair moments, I simply look  the old wicked witch right in eye and tell her to take her smug little self and her bicycle and pedal her way back to the land of Algebra because God has solved my problem of letters with numbers.  

So if you are like me and have an E5 tornado coming at you, be brave, follow the path God has set out for you in His Word.  Look the wicked witch in the eye and tell her to pedal her way out of your life. 

Remember God has the solution and He loves you perfectly!

I KNOW, Do You?

Last week, I posted about the floor we were installing in our home and how exhausting and painful it was to get it put in.  It reminded me of how “digging” into God’s Word could be painful as well, especially when the Holy Spirit uses it to “correct”  and “train” us.

And as I look at our newly installed floor, I KNOW it was a worthwhile investment of my time and resources.

At the end of the post, I suggested you read 1 John if you needed a nudge to read your Bible and for you to underline the words “This is how we know…”

I feel the same way about God’s Word as I do my floor.  I KNOW it will be worth the time it takes to study and KNOW what God says in His written word.  You may be asking yourself, “How does she know it will be worthwhile?”  and to that I reply, “I have read it over and over again during times of great distress and times of great happiness.  It has always given me peace I cannot explain.  Peace that can only come from an all-powerful God.”

This week since I suggested to you to “dig in” to 1 John, I thought I would look as well and I found this note by the title that reads “Word KNOW approx. 31 times” (in my NIV).  

I have always been one to underline and make notes in my Bible.  God’s Word has been so personal for me and I have found so much hope and promise, I couldn’t leave it to chance that I would find it again.  I wanted to KNOW I could find it again.

Here are six (6) facts WE can KNOW from 1 John:

  • We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. (2:4)
  • We know we are in Him if we walk as Jesus did. (2:6)
  • We know that when He (Jesus) appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (3:2)
  • We know that He (Jesus) appeared so that He might take away our sins.(3:5)
  • We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one (Jesus) born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one does not touch him. (5:18)
  • We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (5:19)

May you be encouraged this week by the facts you can KNOW are in God’s Word.


This past week, we have been putting in new flooring and “refurbishing” some old floors. It is hard, back-breaking work. By the end of the day, I am exhausted, my back and knees hurt and I am longing to be done. As we are working to get this done, I am wondering if it is worth it.

At the end of the day, I know when it is finished it will be worth it. All the hours and pain will produce a lovely floor we will be fond of for many years.

In my last post, I wrote about “digging” through the Bible and often when I am digging into Scripture, I find it can be painful as well. As the Apostle Paul put it, “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (2 Tim 3:16 MSG).

Sometimes the pain I experience when I dig into Scripture is a gentle reminder of Who is in control of ALL things. I have to humbly examine my life and admit my rebellion and mistakes so I can be “put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for” me.

Examining myself is an extremely raw process. My stubbornness to deal with my flaws (aka sins) makes the examination rawer than if I would just admit them in the first place.

Despite me being me, I am hopeful. God has chosen not to give up on me even though I fail Him daily. His Word says in 1 John 1:9 (AMP), “ If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].”

He has proven Himself to be true to His own nature and promises. He has delivered me from sins I didn’t think I could ever escape. And I have hope he will continually cleanse me from the unrighteousness I still have because I am human.

Because of this hope, I will keep digging in Scripture, painful as it is, so I can become more like Him and less flawed. And because of this hope, I am thankful He continues to cultivate hope in my heart.

If you are wondering where to start in reading your Bible or just need a nudge to read, start in
1 John. Underline all the “This is how we know:” phrases. It will start the process of cultivating hope in your heart.

Cultivating A Heart of Hope

The tag line of my website is “Cultivating a Heart of Hope”. Why? Well, partly because I needed something to describe what my website and blog were all about and partly because it’s the only thing I could come up with (pretty lame, but true).

Does it resonate with you, my readers? Only you can answer that question.

I do know one thing for sure, I don’t want to lose hope. And, I am assuming since you are reading this you don’t want to lose it either. My goal is to filter all I write through the tagline. Is what I am writing helping my readers cultivate hope in their hearts?

So dear readers, what does “cultivating a heart of hope” look like for you?

Authentic stories of enduring through the “dirt” of everyday life and coming out with rows of tiny sprouts of hope is my aim. Fertilizing the newly cultivated ground with words of Truth and Grace to help hope grow.

Cultivating means digging in the dirt, preparing the soil and I have never really found satisfaction digging in the dirt, it’s messy. I don’t like it under my fingernails and I don’t like the bugs coming out of nowhere.

Life is a little bit like that, dirty, don’t you think? It is messy and it sometimes has “bugs” come out of nowhere. It gets muddy and sometimes we think we don’t have any hope.

It’s in those messy times, those times when we are desperate for answers or anything really, we need hope. But in order to have hope, we will have to get our hands in the soil and start digging…digging into God’s Word for truth, grace and His promises. Digging into our relationships with our friends and family, the ones who can help dredge out the hope underneath the mess.

I am still not sure if my tagline will be the tagline forever or just for a while, but as long as God keeps handing me the “shovel and a pair of gloves” I will keep writing what He gives me.

My prayer is for you, dear reader. For you to keep reading and through reading, you will cultivate hope in your heart. For you to know you are not alone while you are in the “dirt” of everyday life and you will find a measure of help through my words.

Spring is here and it’s time to start digging.

A Moment…

One day, I was having a moment…you know, a moment when all seemed to go awry and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. So to combat that feeling of despair, I sat down and started writing out first, what thankfulness is and second what I am thankful for. I thought I would share it with you:

Thankfulness is—
Grateful heart. Peaceful. Blessed. Unmerited favor. Unconditionally loved. Optimistic.
Hopeful. Joyful.

I am—
Thankful for the Savior. For Almighty God. For the indwelling Holy Spirit.
For freedom to worship.
For amazing grace. For a pursuing Father in heaven.
For the opportunity to pray. For the God of higher thoughts and ways.

For the Body of Christ.
For community and fellowship of believers.

For a family who knows the Trinity.
For the love of a husband.
For the love of believing parents.
For the love of children.

For deep friendships.

For provision and shelter. For all the little creature comforts.

For the gift of music.

For the ability to work.

For miracles.

For the indescribable beauty of creation.

For the intricate workings of the human body.

For being of sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see.
“…give thanks in all circumstances…” –1 Thessalonians 5:18