Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Lamp and the Light of Decision-Making

by Danetta Kellar
@DanettaKellar

This post originally appeared on Riches out of Darkness in 2015.

We were prepared for the darkness.

When darkness fell our first night in the remote bush country of Kenya, we were prepared. 

The lanterns were full of kerosene, and flashlights of various sizes were fresh with new American batteries. Candles lay all in a row on the table, beside them a box of matches sealed nice and dry in a tightly closed jar. We were ready for the inky blackness.

Snug in our little mud house, we felt safe from the darkness as long as there was a source of light. That is, unless we had to venture outside for any reason. With the descending dusk also fell a helpless feeling of entrapment.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Christmas Stump

by Danetta Kellar

The olive tree had been planted over one hundred years before as a tiny sapling.

Its tender root had held all the hope and promise of harvest and provision for the years to come. Now, it stood strong and tall, growing at an angle, grabbing for the blue patch of sky above the old stone walls that enclosed my small North African garden. It had held true to its potential, annually bearing kilos and kilos of bright green olives. 

Harvest time was a community affair. We threw open the garden gates and invited our friends as we picked the olives, sliced, salted, and brined them for their long hibernation toward tenderness. 

Only one thing bothered me about the olive tree. Apparently, it had emerged from the earth in two strong branches. One rose to the sky, bearing the fruit we enjoyed. The other had been chopped off long ago by the previous owners, leaving a rough and splintery stump. My children often stood on the stump as they climbed the tree. They also fell on it, tripped over it, and skinned knees and chins. It was a nuisance, an unnecessary eyesore. I wanted it gone, but there was no way to remove it.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Truth About the Naughty List


by Danetta Kellar

The rain was falling like disappointment on my windshield as I wished for Christmas snow. Lights twinkled through the wet darkness, stubbornly declaring hope in the downpour. 

I was daydreaming about wrapping gifts when my daughter, cozied up in the back seat of the car, began to wail.

“What is the matter?” I exclaimed, trying to keep my hands on the wheel.

I could not understand a word through her sobs and heaves.

Worried she was having some sort of sudden health emergency, I pulled over and climbed in the back with her. Her little face crumpled up as she finally calmed down enough to explain to me what was causing all this ruckus. 

“I am naughty! I am on the naughty list! And now I won’t get any presents this Christmas!” 

The sobs resumed, her little shoulders quaking.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

When Grief is Your Holiday Guest


This post first appeared on The Write Conversation. Visit The Write Conversation by Edie Melson for inspiring and helpful articles by clicking here.  

by Danetta Kellar @DanettaKellar


The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Everyone said to make a different plan for the holiday. 

To go somewhere new, to occupy my mind with a new tradition. So I could forget about the one who was absent from our table this year. The passing of my father-in-law, he who was a father to me, was fresh and recent. The holidays loomed like dread.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Asking for Prayer is not the Same as Whining

by Danetta Kellar

I guess I am writing today’s article to myself. 

For years, I have been a praying, interceding friend to others. 

I believe deeply and profoundly in the power of prayer. I have seen its transforming strength turn the tide in what appeared to be certain destruction and despair. I have watched its tendrils of hope climb to heaven and bear the fruit of joy and peace. I have heard the thunderous crashing of walls as they have plummeted to the ground under the force of the prayers of warring saints. I have felt the hair on my neck stand up straight as the enemy fled at the name of Jesus Christ. I believe in prayer.

But beneath it all, in the secret small room of my heart where I listen to the whispers of Condemnation, there has always been a voice telling me that when I need prayer, to ask is to complain. To whine. To show weakness and neediness. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

For All the Failing Parents: Thankful for Mercy


by Danetta Kellar

I was rushing around, eyes seeing only disorder and mess. 

I hobbled clumsily on a broken foot, wishing I could just sit down and prop it up. The household tasks around me seemed insurmountable. To make it all worse, it was dinner time and people were starving. Looking to me to fill their need. I sighed loudly in frustration.

Suddenly, a sweet small voice said behind me, “You hate being a mommy, don't you.” I froze.

It was said with compassion. With love. By my little daughter, the delight of my heart. The one who watches and listens, the one who has what she calls a Mommy Radar that tells her when I need a hug. She was looking at me with sympathy for how hard it must be to be a Mommy. How much I must hate it.

The tears rushed forth with prickly pain as my eyes filled. Swinging around and dropping to her level, I looked at her square. 

“I am so sorry. No, I do not hate being a mommy. It is the best thing in my life. I am so sorry I made it seem like anything else.” 

My heart felt sick, defeated.

Words can change everything in a second. Turn the world on a spin. Bring clarity like the crisp air on the first fall morning. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Three Questions to Help Us Look Deeper at the Current Cultural Crisis

by Danetta Kellar

The world is in an uproar. 

At least the world of those of us who live in the United States of America. We are experiencing a cultural crisis of historic proportions. No one is exempt. The Left, the Right, and every shade in between is feeling the tension and discomfort of change. We can never again hide from the diverse needs of our nation.

I attended a conference in 2011 which was led by a cultural anthropologist. He pointed to the rising interest at the time in hot social issues among young Christians in America. Those concerns primarily included human trafficking and unclean water. In the years since, a flood of refugees and the needs they bring has enlarged the list to epic proportions. 

Young people were flocking to events which challenged them to follow the Social Jesus, a Savior who cares for the poor and oppressed. Youth found a purpose in this calling, a place of authenticity where they could make their lives and faith really count for something. I was stirred by this trend, for I had just returned from living in a developing country where human trafficking, unclean water, and refugees were the norm, not the exception. Thank God, I thought, America can see the need.

I have long since forgotten that anthropologist’s name, but I owe him a debt of gratitude for what he taught me. He asked three questions which I have never stopped thinking about. They have served as a compass to me many times since. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

One Commander

By Danetta Kellar
@DanettaKellar



The great army commander could not sleep. The city loomed before him, shut up tight. 

His men scattered across the rocky landscape tossing and turning in their tents. The battle looked impossible. Rising to take a walk under the stars, the commander saw a man near the city gate. The man was unusually tall and strong, obviously a warrior. 

The commander approached him, hand resting on his sword, and asked with the confidence of one in charge of many thousands, “Are you for us or for them?”



The mighty man looked at him with burning eyes and replied, “Neither. Remove your shoes, for you are standing on holy ground.” (See Joshua 6, the Old Testament).

This was the moment everything changed for Joshua. Every strategy, every plan, every tactic he had ever devised faded into obscurity as he removed his worn sandals and knelt before the Commander of the Lord’s Army. 

What Joshua was instructed to do next could never have been devised in the heart or mind of mortal man. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Lessons on Perspective From an Elephant

by Danetta Kellar

One afternoon an elephant tromped through my backyard. 

I was inside my mud hut, deep in the bush of East Africa, making my morning tea when I heard the ruckus. Villagers were shouting, feet pounding past my house. Children were crying and women ululated around the water pump. 

I ran outside to see what was happening in our usually quiet compound. There, taking his sweet time, was an enormous bull elephant, weaving his way through the tall savanna grass. Trailing after him was a noisy group of shirtless tribesmen, armed with rudimentary wooden bows and arrows. As they drew nearer to him, they took aim. The arrows reminded me of toothpicks as they bounced off the elephant’s tough skin and fell to the dusty ground. He did not seem to be bothered one bit.

I searched the crowds for my best friend. There she was, her baby girl tied securely to her back. 

“Where’s your son?” I asked her.

“Oh, he’s not going to school today. He is hiding under the bed.”

I let the seriousness with which my neighbors were taking this event sink in, and then I said, “Um…it’s just an elephant who has gotten lost from his herd. He won’t hurt anything. Don’t worry!”

Eyes big with a look of “my friend doesn’t have any common sense at all”, Fatuma explained to me, “Chizi, that elephant will trample all our crops. We will have no food. We will die. He must be stopped.”

I looked down at the ants busily working in the dust at my feet. My face reddened with embarrassment for what I had failed to consider. The ants just kept crawling around, oblivious to my distress. For weeks I had been trying to find poison to get rid of them. They weren't really harming anything. 

But this elephant, this animal I was frankly thrilled to actually see up close in the wild of my own African backyard, this creature of my childhood story books and cuddly stuffed toys, had the power to change my friend Fatuma’s life. To destroy her family’s livelihood as sustenance farmers.

My perspective changed that bright morning standing on the ridge.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Standing Evenly at the Will of God (The Circumstance We Never Wished For)

by Danetta Kellar

The things we would least choose to have are round about us. But “In these things be not thrown down, nor despair not; but stand evenly at the will of God, and suffer all things that cometh to thee, to the praising of our Lord Jesus Christ; for after winter cometh summer, and after even cometh day, and after tempest cometh clearness." -Rose from Brier, Amy Carmichael

The week our life changed, thousands of people prepared for a life-threatening hurricane. 

They secured their property, evacuated their children, and found safe shelter far from the eye of the pending storm. News channels vibrated with a cacophony of warnings, updates, and radar images of the coming menace. 

While all this preparation was going on, we were in the midst of our own tempest, one for which we could not prepare, could not evacuate, could not find safe shelter. 

Hands interlocked, arms wrapped tightly around one another, we stood evenly at the will of God as the tempest of Loss raged through our hearts and lives, death taking one who had made us feel safe and secure. 

We did the only thing we know. We planted our feet on the Rock of Christ as the storm assailed our emotions and our physical endurance, and we prayed to survive.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Concurrent Streams of Joy and Sorrow

by Danetta Kellar

I once saw a sight most strange. 

In the deep woods of the mountains where we summered in my childhood, two streams flowed side by side, separated by a narrow, rocky ledge embedded in dark rich earth. One raged wide, its waters noisily churning up the dark and decaying debris of seasons past. The other ran slow and narrow, quiet and clear. In its depths sparkled gold and silver stars, reflecting the bright light of the sun. 

Dark and brooding, flowing beside calm and glittering, these waters fascinated me. While cousins and uncles fished, I wandered the banks of this magical anomaly. As I tracked the streams upward, I found the two emerged from one wide place in the river. There at the source, the water happily danced and burbled in the dappled sunlight that spilled forth through a canopy of ancient oaks. The changing, beautiful nature of the river was entrancing, and in my mind’s eye, I can see it still. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Life After Loss

We must learn to live differently, to live life without.
by Danetta Kellar
@DanettaKellar

Long ago when we moved to Africa, one of the first lessons we learned was that our schedule, the way we used to execute our tasks in bullet-point style, perfect to-do lists, was obsolete. Life moved slowly in Africa. We didn’t know how to communicate. We looked at people as they talked and just heard sounds coming from their mouths, not understanding a word. We were not sure what to eat or if we even wanted to. We were lonely and tired. 

We learned eventually to live life differently. 

We learned to set one simple goal per day, and rejoice when it was accomplished. Write a letter. Walk across the road and talk to your neighbor. Cook oatmeal over the fire.

Life after loss is much like moving to a foreign country. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Art of Standing with Those who Mourn

How dare it live?
This post was originally published in July of 2015. Its words strike me very personally today. Thank you to all who excel at the art of comfort and are standing with my family right now. We love you and appreciate you more than we can say. It is hard to believe spring will come again, but we believe in the Maker of the springtime.

by Danetta Kellar
@Danetta Kellar

There it grew, defiant and ignorant of death. Living and green, vibrant. Pressing its tendrils up through the concrete, winding its way around the iron grating, clinging tenaciously to the wall. I hated it and resented its life. Death had robbed me of my joy, and I was devastated. Even the ivy made me angry. How dare it live? 

Kate came with her teenage daughter and quietly did what needed done. Mountains of abandoned laundry became neatly folded piles of order. I watched from my bed as her daughter organized my sock drawer. Warm food carefully arranged was delivered on a tray to my hiding place. Deep inside me, through the fog, I was grateful.

A letter arrived almost immediately from a quiet friend who had also known such grief at one time in her life. Its words spilled forth understanding, recognition, validation. I could hold that letter in my hands and respond silently even though my eyes could not hold another’s gaze and my mouth had stopped responding verbally to anyone.

There is an art, an exquisite discretion, to standing alongside those who are hurting. 

We may not always understand the pain they suffer. In fact, some events are so tragic, so unexpected, that we stand gaping in shock, unable to fathom what they must be going through. But we must not withdraw, we must not isolate them. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Grief

by Danetta Kellar

For my true father, and for anyone who has waited beside a loved one as they made the Last Journey.


I stood upon the edge of the sea,
As the gentle tide withdrew from me;
My feet stood sinking in the sand,
Upon the water, upon the land.

This in-between place waited I,
As waves retreated, then drew nigh;
All the while the distance grew,
Between life lost and life anew.

Watching, waiting, agony,
Memories gripping, chastening me;
Taken for granted, words and time,
Opportunities no longer mine.

You made me safe, you strengthened me,
Showed me honor I had not seen;
Led me on the higher road,
Loved me, made me your very own.

Brilliant sunset fading gray,
I held on wishing you would stay;
Receding day, hastening night,
My heart grasped after fleeting light.

Standing there watching dark descend,
I wondered if my heart could mend;
If sun again would ever rise,
Painting its beauty in the skies.

As the tide recedes from me,
I am swallowed up in grief;
Tarrying still I linger on,
Straining to hear the ocean’s song.

I will listen, listen still
Until its sweet refrain grows dim;
I will be here by the sea,
Even as you part from me.



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Single. Not Broken. Part Two

Last week I shared with you my most popular guest post ever, an honest exposition on singleness by my friend Anna. Anna gives a voice to the single friends who haven't had the words to tell you just how it feels to be single in a couple world. If you missed last week's first installment, click Single, Not Broken. Part One. 

guest blog by Anna


Please don't try to fix me. I'm not broken.
Remember I told you last week you have a role in my singleness? Well, you do.

Interestingly, my singleness is often really difficult for people to encounter. They don’t get it. And they desperately want to “fix it” by saying things like: “Aw, you’re so great! How are you not married!?” “You just haven’t met the right one yet.” “Have you tried online dating?” “As soon as you stop looking, you’ll find him.” and my personal favorite, “You should date So-and-So! He’s single!” as if that’s my only qualifier.
I am not single for lack of opportunity. I don’t want just some guy.
I want and need a man who is passionately pursuing the heart of God. Only a man who says, “Yes, Lord! Now what was it you wanted?” will do. Only a man who chooses obedience over security and wants Kingdom things more than earthly things can be my partner in life.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Single. Not Broken. Part One

This post, originally shared in August, 2015, has been the most widely read guest post to ever appear on my blog. I thought it was worth sharing with a new round of readers now a year later. 
I was recently enjoying rich conversation and reunion with old friends around the dinner table at a wedding. That is, until some thoughtless person (me, blush) made a funny joke about marriage and singleness. Everyone laughed, and then the table got a bit silent. 
I realized with hot embarrassment that my joke could have hurt a single friend sitting with us, and I had not even considered her before opening my mouth. I knew I would not sleep that night until I had spoken to my friend and asked her forgiveness for my insensitivity. Her gracious response to me gave me pause to rethink her fragility and my own habits toward my single friends. Fragile, Anna is not. My habits, however, need to change.
It is a privilege to introduce her to you today. She bravely agreed to share with you what she has taught me. I think you may learn from her too, or if you are a single reader, she may just give voice to what you wish your married friends would understand. Thank you, Anna.



In whatever the Lord has for me, I will be content.
guest post by Anna


My name is Anna and I am single.

I didn’t expect to be 37 and unbetrothed. And yet, here I am, at the corner of Will-I-Be-Alone-Forever and Where-Are-All-The-Christian-Men.

Most of my adult life has been spent attending the weddings and baby showers of my dearest friends and family, rejoicing with them over the blessings they have found on this earth. I have spent countless hours counseling women about relationship issues and praying with them through some hard break-ups and exciting engagements.

Many days, I rest deeply in the contentment of believing that the Lord is in control and things are exactly as they should be. Then there are the other days. On those days, I ache with deep longing for a husband I have not yet found.

Having been a single adult for more than half of my life now, I want to offer some insight into how it feels and what your role is in my singleness. Did you know you have a role in it? Because you do and we’ll get to that next week.

But first, what does it feel like to be single at this stage?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Power of Prayer in the Midst of Suffering






Sometimes a person comes into our lives with a gentle spirit that calms us like the warm wind blowing gently across a meadow at sunset. My friend, writer and blogger Kathleen Cope is like that. Get a cup of tea or coffee and sit awhile with her this week and let your soul be rested by her wise and gentle words.


Guest Post by Kathleen Cope


Lying in bed, I couldn’t sleep. Everything in my body told me I was tired. 

Exhausted. 

Emotionally spent. 

Physically drained. 

My soul longed for restorative sleep and renewed strength. I prayed, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” {Psalm 4:8} Sleep finally won over the reigning heavyweight champion of my thoughts.

My son was having seizures. Every. Single. Day. 

His seizures were getting less predictable and more irregular. Medicine wasn’t doing its job and he seemed to be getting worse.

Answers were nowhere to be found. The smartest doctors in the world couldn’t tell me what was wrong with my son. 

They told me what I already knew. His brain was “misfiring”. But no one could tell me why.

It was mind-boggling. I didn’t understand it. Every fiber of my mama-bear-being wanted to know why and how to make him better.

At the time, my son was the oldest of three. My youngest was just nine months old and still nursing. With three children five years old and under, epilepsy pushed me over the edge into dark waters that threatened to overtake me. 

Drowning, what choice did I have but to swim?

On my own I couldn’t carry the weight of it all. My head kept going under as I tried to swim with all my children’s needs in tow. My hands were full and I couldn’t kick hard enough to keep all our heads above water.

When God handed me a life jacket, I grabbed hold of it. Our very lives depended on it.

Prayer was my life preserver. 

The reality that I’m not in control of this life was staring me straight in the face. So in desperation, I waved my hands in surrender, reaching out to the One who is in control. 

Prayer tethered me to the Lord in a way that made me, and us, as a family, unsinkable

The power of prayer is found in the act of reaching out to God. Trust is built in the sacred place of prayer. 

Over-thinking prayer can be what keeps you and I from praying at all. We might be busy conjuring up our own rescue plan, or be so paralyzed with panic, that we don’t reach out for the very thing that could keep us afloat. 

As a family, we prayed for my son’s healing on a daily basis. As the days turned into months, and months into years, we continued to pray every night before bed. Our dependence on God and our trust in Him grew. Walking through suffering, as a family, sowed seeds of genuine faith into the hearts of my children.  

No one ever chooses suffering, but the toil of suffering digs deep roots of faith.

Through the Scriptures, Jesus personally spoke into the types of challenges my son was facing. This difficult season of suffering is what the Lord used to lead my son to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. 

God turned my mourning into dancing {Psalm 30:11}.

As my son approached his ninth birthday, the day came for yet another EEG. He had been seizure-free for three years due to the strictness of a doctor-prescribed-diet for epileptics, called the Ketogenic Diet. (link: https://www.charliefoundation.org/explore-ketogenic-diet/explore-2/classic-ketogenic ) The results of the EEG held the key that would unlock the door to my son’s future. 

The night before his EEG, panic threatened to paralyze me as the all-too-familiar dark waters surrounded me. 

By God’s grace, I reached out for my life preserver. 

This time I asked my prayer warrior friends to join me in praying,

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” {Mark 9:24}

My son and I watched the sunrise that morning before his appointment. We opened up the Bible and read these words, 

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you.” {2 Peter 3:8,9} 

God never promised healing for my son but He promised to be patient. God is never late and always on time. 

I could trust Him.

The call came that I didn’t know I’d ever receive. 

My son ~ healed from epilepsy. 

It was an absolute miracle. One that didn’t happen overnight but in the end it all had a purpose. 

Nothing was wasted. 

God answered the deepest utterances of my heart. He saved my son not just for this life but for the life everlasting. 

TWEETABLES


Kathleen Cope is a wife and mother of four precious children.  She is  passionate about mothering and raising up the next generation to know and love Jesus. Kathleen is an active leader in her local church and loves to pour into younger women in the context of discipleship.  

Kathleen began blogging when her son was diagnosed with epilepsy as a way to cement God’s Truth into her heart during a tumultuous time.  

She writes regularly at www.kathleenevelyncope.com 
Follow her on Instagram @kathleenevelyncope or 
Twitter @kathleencope