When an interviewer has a new rising star in the studio, they will often ask, “Who are your influences?”

I often ask this question of people who are not on the rising platform that is fame, at least not yet. I ask people who are potentially both on the way up or down, people who are ordinary, people who are interesting, people who are growing, and people who are passionate about issues that are life-changing. It’s a good way to get to know people.

Let me take a moment to answer my own question. First some honesty.

On Why-Do-The-Wicked-Prosper and Why-Do-Bad-Things-Happen-To-Good-People questioning days, my influencers are like the grieving sisters, Mary and Martha: “Lord, if you had been here this horrible thing would not have happened!”

On less attentive days, I am influenced negatively by doom and gloomers who cheer the descent of the world as it races toward the handbasket destined for hell thinking it signifies the time of rescue of the elect off this planet.

On I-Want-To-Look-Good days, I am influenced by the media mavens who equate compassionate love with short-sighted indulgence.

On days when I follow You-Think-That’s-Bad soap boxers on social media, I am influenced by those whose goal is to see them punished and us rewarded.

On better days, I am influenced positively by those who can wait to see the bigger picture.

On better days, I am influenced by those who choose good over evil, even when it seems to be to their detriment. I am influenced by the athlete who sacrifices a sure win to come to the aid of another athlete in distress, for example.

I am influenced by people who have spoken or written words of profound wisdom that bring greater understanding of the character of God, even if their own reputations, were later destroyed by failure to rely on God and leave a harmful God-avoiding coping mechanism behind.

I am influenced by artists and scientists who pursue excellence in both knowledge and wisdom and communicate insights with honesty and transparency.

I am influenced by children and guileless folks on the autism spectrum who have the clarity to shout, “Hey! The emperor has no clothes,” when I have accepted traditions that say it is wrong to think that out loud.

I am influenced by the parent who puts more effort into raising an inconvenient child than gaining accolades or material goods for themselves.

I am influenced by the introvert who leaves the comfort of their favourite chair to venture onto far-away stages in obedience to a calling on their life.

I am influenced by the experienced extrovert who listens first, second, and third before responding with better questions.

I am influenced by those who demonstrate self-control while giving others the freedom to control themselves.

I am influenced by those who talk about other people behind their backs in kind, appreciative ways.

I am influenced by the strong but gentle, the encouragers, the visionaries, the builders, the apologizers, the forgivers, the comforters, the humble, the confidant, the serene.

I am influenced by people who provoke me, annoy me, and exasperate me because they genuinely love me.

I am influenced by people who see ugliness, but rest their eyes on beauty.

I’m surrounded by a lot of influencers, some great, some not so great. I could name these people, but you probably wouldn’t recognize most of them. The one I will name, hoping you know him, is Jesus the Christ.

The root of the word influence means “to flow into.” More than anyone else I want Jesus to flow into and through me. I can only hope that someday it will show in my work.


Logic cannot comprehend love; so much the worse for logic.

N.T. Wright

Sometimes, trying to explain truth that is spiritually discerned to a person whose ultimate test of reality is limited to logic and empirical data is like trying to explain colour to someone who can only see in black and white.

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)


We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

I’m not a morning person. I never have been. Lately, it’s becoming more difficult to get moving in the morning, but my husband needed me to drive him to an early meeting. On the way home, I impulsively decided to see if my favourite garden was open. It was, by a minute or two. The sun revealed colours I hadn’t seen on the gate before.

“Come away with me,” I heard.

I hadn’t planned to go. In fact, I was grumbling about pushing through the pain to get moving and accommodate another person’s agenda.

I heard the invitation.

I said yes.

It was so beautiful!


There is something particularly precious about the last flowers in the garden at the end of the season. We know the frost will show up one of these nights.

Sometimes we can sense a change in the atmosphere, a shifting in the angle of light, a different scent in the air. Change is coming.

Change means we eventually may need to let go of the rewards of past efforts, but today we stop and admire the beauty in this moment. Today we thank God for his faithfulness. Today we sing.

Oh Thou In Whose Presence My Soul Takes Delight

Only a few weeks ago, this patch of lavatera flowers springing forth like a delightful fountain of pink joyfulness was a barren patch of dirt.

I didn’t plant them, nor did I water them. I saw them growing in the community garden next to our building. A gardener who rents the plot planted them in amongst practical and edible kale and beans and tomatoes. These flowers don’t have 300 uses like the peanut or end up in a myriad of product like corn. Their only role is to simply be beautiful and to lift the spirits of those who pass by.

I am learning to stop and appreciate beauty when I see it. I also appreciate those who develop varieties of plants suitable for local environments and resistant to pests and disease. I appreciate the tillers and planters and waterers. I love the ingenuity and creativity of inventors and developers.

I most appreciate a God who created beauty to inspire us to create beauty. I appreciate soaking in the beauty of his presence when it serves no other purpose than show me I am loved and that a good Father loves to give good gifts.

When affliction comes (and he said it would) a patch of pink flowers, rising up from the soil that lay dormant for so many months, can remind us that God is good. Beauty says hope restored is a tree of life.

The song in my head today:


I passed by this honeysuckle bush growing over the limits a dilapidated unpainted fence tried to set around a sad-looking house. I snapped a photo with my phone and thought about the contrast.

Sometimes the flowers that bloom in overgrown, untended yards surrounded by broken fences and derelict vehicles are all the more beautiful for their powers of endurance.

It amazes me that some of the sweetest, most beautiful, most caring people I know have grown up in foul, ugly, uncaring environments.

The grace they exude defies all predictions of perpetual victimhood. Like the garden flowers in the back alley, they are givers because they know how to receive from God when others have let them down.

Hidden Beauty

For the Scriptures tell us:

Whoever wants to embrace true life

and find beauty in each day

must stop speaking evil, hurtful words

and never deceive in what they say.

Always turn from what is wrong

and cultivate what is good;

eagerly pursue peace in every relationship,

making it your prize.

(1 Peter 3:9-11 TPT)

I’m a stomper. When my anger is triggered by injustice toward myself —or especially toward vulnerable children— I go outside for a stomp. I go out whether it’s raining, or snowing, or if I’m in pain and limping heavily as I shove my walker through four inches of gravel. (Really! Who advertises handicap accessible trails then covers them with thousands of little wheel grabbing rocks?)

I don’t take my camera with me on these jaunts because I am busy composing defensive responses to obtuse accusers (absent from my side but repeating insults in my head) or writing imaginary posts to corrupt authorities (who will probably remain totally unaware of my important opinion) I’m too busy to notice anything photo-worthy. I’m snapping, but not in a sensitive creative way. Sometimes I walk away from a tense situation to avoid saying something to someone I will later regret.

I didn’t realize until these past few days of rumination following an excellent seminar on healing traumatized churches led by Ron Wean of Florida, that my habit of stomping out my rage is a way of getting out of the fight mode of the infamous flight/fight/freeze trilogy of survival responses to trauma (or the triggers of unprocessed memories of trauma stored in the body). Movement renews connection with the body and the logical/creative brain God gave us. I know I’m back when I can feel more than my own emotional pain and can see more than dark ugliness.  The expression, “blind rage” was probably created by someone who was familiar with it.

I’m not anti-emotion. Not at all! Anger can be a useful emotion. It lets us know that all is not well like the check engine light on the car dashboard. The discomfort of angry feelings can let us know that something is not right in ourselves. It can motivate self-examination and change. Anger modified by self-control has been behind many reforms from freedom from slavery to the end of entrenched genocide. We are told: “In your anger, do not sin,” (Ephesians 4:26) and “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) I’m not talking about becoming an emotionless doormat. I’m talking about choosing to not return evil for evil (with compounded interest) or seek revenge.

This morning I read this scripture passage in 1 Peter about finding beauty. I had never noticed before that speaking hurtful words in retaliation and neglecting to pursue peace can keep us locked in a world without beauty. Beauty remains hidden in the places where ugliness and darkness demand all the attention. 

I thought that an intentional search for beauty would bring peace, but what if it is the other way around? What if a lack of peace hinders our ability to see beauty? What if peace improves our vision?

What if the pursuit of peace means letting go of wrathful words and unconscious tit-for-tat exaggerations and lopsided partial truths formed whilst in survival mode? What if the pursuit of peace means leaving our own devices and turning to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, who entered our trauma out of love and compassion to bring us his peace, the peace that passes understanding?

Lord, remind us to turn from what is wrong and cultivate what is good. Open our eyes to see beauty again as we pursue peace in every relationship. Heal our hearts and renew a right spirit within us.