Broken-hearted Joy

“Our hearts ache, but we have joy.”

How can people say they are experiencing joy when their hearts are breaking? These are two opposing emotions and seemingly impossible to coincide together in one person at the same time.

This phrase “Our hearts ache, but we have joy” comes from Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians 6:10, couched in his list of hardships endured by himself and his co-workers on their various missionary travels. It appears that the Christians in Corinth are having some struggles with holding to their faith in Christ because of a particular man among them and they are now mistrusting and doubting Paul and his teaching. Paul is urging them to continue to trust God and to trust himself as well. We learn this from phrases Paul interjects throughout this 2nd letter to the Corinthians, such as

“it is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ” (1:21)
“the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me” (2:5)
“don’t team up with those who are unbelievers” (6:14)
“come back to God(5:20)

Paul longs for reconciliation, often expressing his love for them as in

“we want to work together with you” (1:24)
“I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you” (2:4)
“you are in our hearts” (7:3)
“There is no lack of love on our part but you have withheld your love from us. I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!”(6:12)

Paul also explains himself and defends his authority, particularly in chapter 10, but “with the gentleness and kindness of Christ” (10:1).

“We are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the Word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us” (2:17)

Among other things, Paul also corrects and encourages the Corinthians to “strengthen (them), not tear (them) down.” (13:5)

“Forgive and comfort” this person (who caused the problems) so he won’t be “overcome by discouragement…reaffirm your love for him”
“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine” (13:5)

How can Paul have joy in the midst of this obviously complicated and difficult relational challenge among people he has brought to faith? He has labored, suffered and loved much. Now they are breaking his heart.

“Because of our great trust in God through Christ”, Paul reveals, he and his co-workers are confident that the ministry among the Corinthians was enabled by the Holy Spirit because it is the Spirit who “gives life.” (3:16)

Paul is looking beyond the situation to his trust in God through what Christ has done. He has experienced personally the power of the Holy Spirit in his own life and witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit giving “life” to many others through his ministry, particularly to these beloved believers in Corinth. Paul repeatedly points back to God’s work in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is where his hope is.

Dear friend, is your heart aching? I encourage you to reflect with God on 2 Corinthians Chapter 4. Paul attests to the power we have from God in spite of all our troubles. He describes it as a “light shining in our hearts” even though we often feel like “fragile clay jars” (4:7). Paul definitely was not ignoring the problems, but he wasn’t letting them rob him of his joy and confidence in God. May you find that true for yourself as well.

I end with Paul’s last words in this 2nd letter to the Corinthian believers,
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (13:14)

Scraps of Life, Part 1

What Happened

I was ready to turn a new corner at the beginning of my 60th year.

I had re-arranged my life; organized the house making space to create, minister, and time to help my aging parents.

I had just come off of a very busy June of birthdays, our anniversary, Father’s Day, a family reunion in Canada.

Now I was home to begin this new phase of my life.

And then it all came to a crashing halt on a Saturday afternoon, July 7, 2018.

I was doing what I’ve done many times before; stepping onto a stepping stone in my yard near the water faucet on the house I use to water my flowers, but this time I was careless.

I stepped only partway with my right foot onto the stone which was raised above the ground some.  I immediately twisted my ankle and fell back hard on my other leg. I don’t know exactly how I landed but I remember feeling my rear hit the ground. My leg must have been under it. Here is a photo reinacting my mis-step.


It all happened so fast I had no time to catch myself.

As I write this now in February 2019, my heart is beating a little faster just thinking about that moment.  It felt like I was being pushed down.  The ground was packed hard underneath me and as I peeked through my bent legs I could see that the ankle on my left leg was unnaturally swollen.  I knew immediately that I could not step on that leg – something was seriously wrong.

My husband and daughter were in the house so I began to call for my husband.  Rob!  Rob!  I called and called but no one came.  I saw two of my neighbors across the street but no one was even looking my way.  I stopped calling and began to worry that I was going to have to move – could I crawl to the house?  And the words formed in my head…Really God? Now this? Really?


It is very natural to question God when the unexpected happens.  Whether you are in a season of unexpected happenings or not, I invite you to take a few moments and read slowly through the scripture below, talking with God about what you notice.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord

who created you.

O Israel, the one who formed you says,

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.

I have called you by name; you are mine.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.

When you go through the rivers of difficulty,

you will not drown.

When you walk through the fire of oppression,

you will not be burned up;

the flames will not consume you.

For I am the Lord, your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’

 Isaiah 43:1-3a (NLT)



Part 11: Longing. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song Ten: Longing (by Doug)

green tree beside roadway during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on

Longing is a quiet, reflective instrumental number to close the cd. You can listen to Longing by clicking on the arrow below.  Wait a bit for the song to load.

What longings did Doug have in mind when he wrote this piece?

He expressed several longings to me when I visited with him the last few times; he longed for healing to live long enough to raise his children together with his wife; he longed to share the love of Christ with others.

We aren’t a family who has dreams that seem significant, but as Doug was fighting cancer for the second time, he shared a dream he had in which he believed God was telling him he would be healed in a certain place.  In the dream, Doug found himself at the top of the Minnesota Twins stadium.  Smoke from a fire trapped him and he couldn’t get out.  Soon a couple of guys appeared in the smoke to guide him out. In the next scene of his dream, Doug was somehow transported to the Mall of America, where he was standing naked in front of a clothing store. The storekeeper saw him and invited him into the store to clothe him.

So Doug made a trip to the Twin Cities.  There he was prayed over, and he also began a stem cell transplant process.  It was evident, after the first dose of chemo, however, that Doug’s body would not tolerate the procedure, and he was sent home.

Was Doug wrong in wanting healing?  No, not at all.  Did Doug mis-interpret this dream because of his longings.  Possibly.  When he told me the dream on the phone, my heart sank because I immediately recognized a different interpretation. I did not share my own reaction to Doug’s dream with him. I did not want to give up hope for life either.

Doug had a strong desire to live.  He was only 34.  He had children. He had a desire to minister to others. Only in his last conscious days did he recieve God’s peace and relax into a coma.

Before Doug’s funeral in Grand Forks, ND, the pastor gathered our extended family together and read II Corinthians chatper 4 to us. In this passage our bodies are likened to fragile jars of clay. This chapter ends with these words in verses 16-18


That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (II Corinthians 4:16-18, NLT)

I was not familiar with this passage at that time, and was taken by it.  When I got home from the funerals, I looked up that chapter and read on where I was astonished to find something so similar to Doug’s dream in verses 1-5 of II Corinthians chapter 5:

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (II Corinthians 5:1-5, NIV)

I was amazed and comforted by this passage.  God clothed Doug with his heavenly dwelling….and his mortal life was swallowed up by an even greater life….eternal life with God.

I don’t know if this realization ever came to Doug before he died.  But Doug’s dream and this passage gave me great comfort in the days after his death.  Death does not have the final word.  With God, death is swallowed up by life. Death has been trampled by the death and resurrection of Christ! Hallelujah!

doug grave

We long for the time when we will be reunited forever in the loving arms of Christ.


This is the good news that Jesus brought to earth over 2000 years ago.  God has conquered death for us all.  The end of life on this earth is not the end of our existence.  Doug would want you to know that.  If he was still here, he would be sharing that good news to all who would listen. It was Doug’s desire, and it is mine, that this music and these reflections will assist you to draw near to God in the midst of whatever circumstances you find yourself in, whatever healing you are in need of, whatever grief you are experiencing.  Jesus shows us the love that God has for you.  May you receive that love and find healing for your soul.

I close this series with these words from Romans chapter 8 (NLT):

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.







I love fall, with the leaves turning colors and the temperatures growing cooler. In Kansas, we usually have a few false starts before the sweaters and jackets come out for good and the summer attire gets packed away.

We have seasons in life as well, and the transition from one season to another can bring with it a sense of anticipation, or feelings of confusion and loss.  Sometimes these transitions bring questions into our lives that we don’t know how to answer; questions about ourselves and our place in this new reality; questions about God we haven’t asked before.

Whatever transition you may be facing or traveling through, it can be helpful to find someone to accompany you on the journey.  Through Christian Spiritual Direction, you can experience just that; a companion who will listen to your questions and support you as you explore the changes you are experiencing or preparing to experience. A spiritual director is trained to listen non-judgmentally and help you notice God’s presence and activity along the way, as well as offer reactions and responses.  This person, in a formal, non-directive method, invites directees to discover a relationship with God, and grow deeper in prayer.

If you are looking for a safe place to explore a transition you are facing, I encourage you to consider engaging in spiritual direction. To learn more about Christian Spiritual Direction, read my blog post entitled “What Is Christian Spiritual Direction?” at