True Joy


Stepping into my garden, it's easy to overlook one of my treasures.  Yes, almost hidden beneath the ground cover of my Wandering Jew plant, a simple stone sets atop the soil.  A dear friend, knowing my personal and painful journey, had the simple inscription "JOY" lasered into the surface of that flagstone.  She sadly noted that the three-letter word she desperately desired to showcase was difficult to see.  Immediately, I thought how fitting that was!  Those faint letters are not unlike the invasive vines that have threatened to overtake its presence. And yet, if you set your focus, JOY is easily visible on my cherished garden stone!  Indeed, my friends, circumstances can blind us to the true joy that is meant to be ours in Christ...Yes, the so-called ugliness of our lives can distract us from the beauty of a life hidden in Christ.

It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And when guests visit my home, many have lingered in my garden, but have winced or grimaced at another work of art that I treasure.  Yes, should you start up the oak stairs in my little town home or should you head back down those same stairs, your eyes are sure to land on the burlap sculpture of my Savior with a crown of thorns piercing His brow.  And like many others, it could be that you, too, will take note that this burlap creation's "gaze" seems to be fixed upon you as you tread my wooden stairway.  To some it is horrific and distressing and even frightening.  But I am overcome with the joy of that image.  No, that wasn't a typo, my friends.  And I'll gladly tell you why!


Gazing upon that burlap bust of the ONE who freely gave His life for me, I am reminded of three indisputable facts...First, JESUS, the embodiment of JOY, is a picture of a life well spent.  Yes, a thorny crown intended to mock Him and inflict horrific pain upon Him was unable to divert Him, for He was worshiping.  Yes, He was declaring the worth of His Father to the very end.  Next, my JOY abounds and often spills in tears as I behold the One whose eyes beheld me!  Emptied of self, yet forever full, He set His gaze beyond His wounds and scars to view the needs of OTHERS.  And lastly, throughout my day, and multiple times each day, that work of art reminds me that nails didn't hold my Savior to that cross...Love held Him there!  The cruelest of deaths could not imprison Him with anger or bitterness or rage...He was free!  Oh, dear one, YOU, too, are free to live and move in JOY...And that's something beautiful to behold!!!


As I write these final words, my family is busy counting the days to our annual family vacation!   My oldest grandchildren are aware that a pool and a sunny beach await them.  As I type, they are preparing for fun in the sun with swimsuits and water shoes and sand buckets in tow!  What about you, my friends...What are you "carrying" on your journey? Have the not-so-pretty circumstances of your days blinded you to the beauty of living in joy in spite of everything that's happening around you?  Will you live in the readiness and the awareness that the messiness of life is merely a platform--an altar--to showcase Christ? My friends, may we remember that JOY is not our destination on this highway of life, but it should be our "vehicle"--our mode of transportation! 

Illumined by the Lamp...Leaving a Legacy of Faith


I love the creaking sound of my feet as they tap across old pine or oak flooring. Whenever I have the opportunity to peruse an antique shop and sift through shelves of china cups and lace doilies, I imagine the stories that could be told by their long deceased owners. Even as a child I had a love of things from bygone eras. I believe this keen interest came from my dear daddy who always had an appreciation of museums and historical facts. And so, while others my age were bored to tears, an old antebellum mansion to tour or a Presidential library to wander through meant that I was a happy camper. Yes, I recall as a youngster regularly and eagerly visiting the sprawling old multi-leveled home of my beloved friend, Bettie. The pocket doors, cabinetry, and restored wood flooring left me in wide-eyed wonder.


For a short time, when I was nine- years-old, my family rented an old two-story house in a small Texas town. Just a hop, skip, and jump down the road was the dairy we had purchased. And most of our evenings and weekends were spent remodeling the house we would soon occupy. Oh, but I remember well climbing the steps to the attic area of that rent house we resided in for a brief time. It was there that I kept my dolls and spent many imaginative hours at play. I pretended to cook and sew and pamper my “babies” for hours on end. I can still smell that attic today. Oh, it wasn’t an offensive smell. Although some might have labeled that attic as musty or unkempt, in my mind’s eye it smelled of logs that once burned in a turn-of-the-century fireplace and the bread that surely was left rising on the stove in the kitchen below those wooden stairs. Oh, yes, either the attic had a distinctive smell or my imagination was incredibly vivid! Whatever the case, even now as I think of those brief months we spent there, I am beckoned to yesterdays long past. Who had lived there decades before us and what had they left behind for future generations? In the nooks and crannies unexplored were forgotten and forsaken treasures tucked out of sight?


Beloved friends, that attic’s aroma reminds me of my dear momma’s cedar chest. Now in my fifties, it remains a treat to have it opened. Inside of it, you can still find old photographs and baby clothes that my sister and brother and I wore. And intricate pieces of crochet and embroidered linens set atop folded quilts pieced together by my great grandmother. And yes, an old kerosene lamp can be found nearby that chest. My great grandmother had worked long into the night crocheting, embroidering, and piecing quilts by the light of a kerosene lamp. In my adult years, I read of how the women of yesteryear would sigh when their handiwork was completed and say, “It smells of the lamp!” Yes, the labor of their hands was marked by the aroma of the kerosene lamp that had illumined their efforts.


Dear friends, my plastic and tattered dolls from my childhood years were boxed and stored for two real life babies and the old attic long vacated for a home of my own. Yes, I have come to recognize and appreciate that the pattern of my life is as intricate and tedious as the embroidered and crocheted pieces that now adorn the tops of my antique furnishings. Oh, but deep within my soul is the great desire that my Jesus, the LIGHT OF THE WORLD, will burn brightly through me, so that my precious children and the others who have graced my home can confidently say, “She smells of the lamp!” In closing, perhaps this beautiful and poignant song puts it into perspective…

Mama always got up early

And she never went to bed 'til late

Yet, I never heard her complainin'

About her family of eight

There were times she should have been sleepin'

But, late in the midnight hour

She'd get down on her knees

And you could hear her say,

"Lord fill them will your power"



Mama like to burn the midnight oil

Down on her knees in prayer

If you asked her why she did it

She said she did it cause she cared

Now Mama always talked to Jesus

When she knelt by her rocking chair

Oh, I'm glad my mama was willin'

To burn the midnight oil in prayer…


Beloved ones, when the dust has settled over our days, what aroma will remain? Oh, may we burn the midnight oil in prayer, ever in the Presence of Jesus, so that those who come behind us may say, “She smelled of the lamp!”

An Unlikely Lesson in An Unlikely Place...


We stood in line preparing to embark on what some might call a "thrill ride"!  Numerous small and numbered cars awaited the brave or foolish souls--completely dependent upon your perspective--who would dare to climb aboard and travel at breakneck speeds.  With a bit of apprehension, my husband and I paid the posted fee and plopped down in the oh-so-tiny space.  Of course, I immediately, and without any needed coaxing, strapped myself securely to the tattered seat.  And then, I braced myself for a ride unlike any I had experienced before that moment.  You can rest assured that with a white-knuckle grasp I gripped the seat in front of me.  And in between the small shrieks of fear I managed to utter, I was overtaken by the feeling that my morning's breakfast could at any moment be hurled through the air.  No, I wasn't at SIX FLAGS OVER TEXAS...And no, I wasn't at DISNEYLAND.  Instead, this thrilling ride was inside a taxi cab in Costa Maya, Mexico!  My husband responded with his trademark laugh--a cackling sound that never failed to capture the attention of all within earshot.  On the other hand, I wavered between keeping my eyes tightly shut or keeping them wide open.  Of course, the moments my eyes were wide open left me frustrated, since my driver--who must have secretly carried a desire to race at the Indianapolis 500--whizzed past all the sights!  Yes, I hardly knew what I was missing, because the scenery zooming past my window was little more than a blur.  Suddenly, our very pleasant and uncommunicative driver slowed the cab to a crawl, hung his head out the window, and pointed toward the ground to a rope that was large in circumference and spread across the road.  He uttered to us one of the few phrases he knew in English--"Awwww, Mexican speed bumps!"  Never had I been so happy to see a speed bump!  From that moment on, in a steady succession, Mexican speed bumps appeared...And it was then that everything around me came into clear view!

Later, when I reflected on that moment, I realized the unveiling of an unlikely lesson in an unlikely place.  Yes, the truth is that as I attempt to whiz past the challenging circumstances in my life, I desperately need to be slowed down...I need to pause and reflect and be pointed back repeatedly to the ONE who has hemmed me in behind and before.  Like those Mexican speed bumps, He is there smack dab in the middle of my life.  My friends, there isn't a place where He isn't already waiting and wooing me--ever beckoning me to come into His Holy Presence, take my shoes off, and "sit a spell."  And I hear echoes of what the psalmist beautifully and confidently declared, "Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Where can I flee from Your Presence?  If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast..."

Indeed, our gracious God--who has drawn us into intimate fellowship with Himself--invites each of us to embrace the "speed bumps" along the way that we might delight in His omnipresence.  Yes, "omni" meaning "everywhere" and "presence" actually meaning something you may not have considered, for it quite literally means "face"!  Ohhh, friend, picture your Heavenly Father turning His face toward you at all times!  How thankful I will ever be for that glorious day in Mexico when God provided me with an  unlikely lesson in a unlikely place--the back seat of a taxi cab!  Just as He beckoned me then, HE is beckoning each of us to slow down, let the dust clear, and accept His ongoing invitation.  After all, we have His complete attention, for He is ever directing all that He is toward us!  Will you join me today in praising our God for His omnipresence?


God's Waiting Room...

 'Twas six days before Christmas.  And not a creature was stirring--not even a mouse!  No rustle of wrapping paper could be heard...No revving of my car's engine taking me hither and yon to celebrate with family and friends...No heavenly scents of billowy divinity or other baked-from-scratch-delectables wafting from from my kitchen.  But instead, the sounds of the flu hung heavy in my home--with hacking and coughing and the shuffling of my feet from my bed to my favorite chair for fourteen long days.

And as I peered through the windows of my French doors to my backyard--my favorite spot, my little Garden of Eden--the picture before me was a window to my soul.  I gazed at the mounds of once green and thriving flora that lay limp, lifeless, and shriveled.  The crepe myrtles lining my flowerbeds just a few months earlier had daily showered my flagstone patio with endless crimson blossoms.  And now, they stood before me naked, vulnerable, and uninviting.  The mirror on the wall nearby, and the reflection gazing back at me, seemed to reflect that same image.  And it wasnt a pretty sight.  

But in that moment, I thought of you, my dear, fellow-struggling sisters.  And echoes of truth stirred in my bone-tired spirit.  I've heard your questions...You want to know what happens in those times when your life lies dormant--those "in between" times...What happens when the winter of your soul seems to have robbed you of the hope that life will indeed spring forth again?  Yes, sisters, we all need to know in the depths of our weary beings how to more than survive God's "waiting room"...We need to know how to flourish there.

No, this wasn't my first rodeo.  And I am confident it's not yours.  So, how do we take the lessons from past wintry seasons of pain and frustration and doubt and disappointment--and how do we rest in the knowledge that this "pause" in life-as-we-had-hoped holds the promise of more?  We need to know as we wait that there is indeed hope for abundant life--renewed, restorative, and purposeful life.  And so, squirming and shifting uncomfortably in God's waiting room, how can we learn to wait well?

First, gazing back at my garden, I found an important clue in those brown and lifeless mounds of perennials and stark crepe mrytles.  With no striving against the process, my hostas and coneflowers and lantanas lay surrendered to the pause of winter...And so must we!  How often we find ourselves scanning the horizon--pleading with God--for the end of our winter of discontent!  What if we instead rested in our greatest need---Jesus?!  Planting ourselves deeper in the rich soil of His truth, what if we lived in a greater awareness that He won't let us miss our needed answer?  Oh, but how tragic if we missed getting more of Him!  

And then, my eyes landed on the numerous rose bushes throughout my garden.  Few leaves remained, but the thorns were still plentiful.  Soon it will be necessary to trim back those branches, and I'm sure to have an up close and personal encounter with those thorns.  Yes, there will be some pain and some grimacing, but each time I choose to embrace the pruning process, I can see through eyes of faith the promise of bushes laden with countless buds that will blossom with new and vibrant flowers.  Oh, my friends, what if we dared to fully embrace this pause--this time in God's waiting room--knowing that the Vinekeeper is never closer to the vine than when HE is pruning it?!  

Lastly, as the wind howled and the sun was hidden, I found myself wishing for winter to pass and for the busyness of my normal days to resume.  I pictured my precious grandchildren in my garden blowing bubbles and feeding the birds. And I chuckled as I remembered the numerous times one of them stepped out of sight and no sound of their chattering and singing and bickering with their cousins could be heard.  And as any parent or grandparent knows, often a quiet toddler is sure to be "up to no good"!  But will we let the truth grow deeper in our often quivering hearts--the truth that when God seems silent, He is must assuredly "up to only good"?!  Yes, time in His waiting room is never a waste of time, dear sisters, for He is busy in this time of pause readying us to receive His promise.

And so, dear ones, the flu has passed and the calendar on my wall still signals winter is at hand, but my soul has been refreshed.  Undoubtedly, we will each find ourselves seated in God's waiting room time and time again.  And yet, if we will attune our weary hearts to hear His voice, His message will be clear..."Blessed is she  who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!"  





Happy birthday, dear son...

Even the Von Trapps singing in the background and THE SOUND OF MUSIC playing on the screen of our television, couldn't distract me from the ever intensifying labor pains.  They took my breath away, but soon a little 6-pound, 3 1/2-ounce baby boy would more than take my breath away and forever capture my heart.  Yes, my dear son, it was a Sunday evening, and I knew I would likely be holding you in my arms by the next day.  I can still hear Maria, alongside the Von Trapps, singing in the background about some of her favorite things.  And so it is that December 3, 1979 ranks high atop my list of "my favorite things"!  

How can it be that 37 years have passed in what seems like a blink of an eye?  While I remember the lengthy labor that brought you into this world, I most remember the joy that flooded my heart when you were placed in my arms.  And so, I celebrate you, dearest Kaleb Kent Rutherford.  And as I do, I remember the poem I wrote for you years ago.  I framed it and gave it to you on Christmas as you prepared to marry the love of your life.  And so, humor your ol' momma as I am feeling nostalgic tonight...

 When you were born, it was a cold & wintry day-- 

 You were so small I could hold you in one arm; 

 So helpless & tiny, I marveled, for you needed me in every way! 

 I looked into your eyes-as-big-saucers & promised to keep you from all harm... 

 It was my joy to rock & cradle you, my precious one; 

 To feed & clothe you was my delight! 

 I showered your rounded cheeks with kisses & whispered, "I love you, my son!" 

Being your mom was my fulfillment as I peered into your crib day & night...   

I'll never   let you go," I thought---

 As I ever gazed at my precious treasure; 

 But God knew I had an important lesson to be taught --

 For you were a demonstration of God's love in abundant measure... 

 Yes, you were a deposit I was entrusted to keep for Him, 

 To nurture & love for something bigger than me or you; 

 For you were destined to shine in His Kingdom   as a precious gem--

 And little by little you'd leave my side for other things to see & do. 

 I remember the day you first crawled away-- 

 For something new, shiny, &    bright called your name; 

 It wasn't quite time for you to leave, so you crawled back for awhile to stay-- 

 But you had tasted freedom & nothing would ever be the same... 

 And then, from arms that held you close, you walked & ran with playful glee-- 

 While everyone applauded your accomplishment of that first step, 

 I envisioned you walking down a path yet to be-- 

 Letting go a little more that day, I knew it was something I had to accept... 

 Oh, but I remember the day you first walked into kindergarten--so timid, but able; 

 With tears streaming down my cheeks, I left you there-- 

  You had passed the toddler years to wear a new label.

 Yes, loosening my grasp proved difficult to bear... 

 The years would come & go & time could not be rewound; 

 There were many more stages of growth away from my side-- 

 From your first job & first car, you were graduation bound!

 But late at night I remembered the baby I had held & I softly cried... 

 Today, you walked away from me & stood amid flowers & candlelight; 

 And there you pledged your life to the woman you love-- 

 Yes, I thought of the baby I had grasped so tightly    & rocked into night,

 And remembered that you were a gift from above... 

  "I'll never let you go," I once had thought,

 But God knew I had an important lesson to be taught-- 

 For you have been a demonstration of His love in abundant measure, 

 A deposit I was entrusted to keep for Him ,

  "To love & nurture for something bigger than me or you," has become my confident reply-- 

 Yes, you are destined to shine in His Kingdom as a precious gem; 

So, as I leave you in His able hands, please know I'll love you till the day I die! 

Happy birthday, Kaleb.  Thirty-seven years have passed.  You and your lovely wife--my bonus daughter--now have four sons of your own!  I celebrate the gift of motherhood, of Gi-Gi-hood...Oh, yes, I celebrate YOU, dear son! 



My Christmas Tale

This is a tale of a woman who loves Christmas.  This is my tale.  It's not a tall tale, but a heartfelt tale.  And it's a tale that's meant to be lived 365 (or 366!) days a year.  And yet, it's a tale that holds the possibility of alienating me from you.  Oh, but will you dare to catch a glimpse of my heart?  Will you stick with me to the final paragraph, dear friend?  I pray so.


And so it begins...Come late November, should you gaze into the long, rectangular windows that are on either side of my burgundy-colored front door you will find me.  You can't see me?  Well, I am standing on my oak stairway.  I'm elevated for no other reason than it is the only place I can reach the tallest branches of my slim twelve-foot CHRISTmas tree--a tree that ideally fits into small places with high ceilings.  Now, my friend, please don't throw tinsel at me if you have an elf-on-the-shelf or if Santa brings your children and/or grandchildren presents.  You won't find me piously protesting those things, but here's the deal, dear one.  I guard CHRISTmas tenaciously.  I love its meaning...It and Easter are pivotal to my faith.  And so, with classic CHRISTmas carols and new songs about my Savior blasting through my townhouse, each limb of my tree is decorated with a symbol of my faith...


With ornaments of glittering golds in various shapes and sizes, I reflect on the splendor and majesty of heaven that He so freely left to come into the humblest of circumstances.  In that original "KING-sized bed"--a common feeding trough--HE came to identify with me in every way possible.  And with decorations of crimson reds, tears often spill down my cheeks, as I ponder anew the purpose with which He came...Yes, with each drop of blood He gave on that cruel cross, He came to be the perfect sacrifice for my sins.  And with the straw that surely cushioned His make-shift bed and that perhaps poked through the cloths that swaddled His tiny body, I see a foreshadowing of thorns digging into His brow and a sword piercing His side.  Oh, yes, it was indeed a sacrifice for sins I could never, ever cover with even the best designer fig leaves...


And so, my grandchildren ooh and aah over the twinkling lights and decorations.  I love to explain the crosses in different shapes that point to the sacrifice of Christ and the golden crowns that are fit for the KING.  They love to hear how the butterflies that clip onto my branches symbolize new beginnings and new birth.  And yes, they pick out the words that hang in glittering letters--FAITH, HOPE, JOY, and PEACE.  And since they often help feed birds at Gi-Gi's house, they love hearing again and again that doves point us to His peace and that our Lord cares for every bird of the air.  As I point out the numerous glittered churches hanging from the tree, we recite the age-old ditty..."Here is the church and here is the steeple.  Open the doors and see all the people."  And with their wide-eyed wonder, they listen as I joyously exclaim the importance of meeting together with others who love Jesus.  But then there are numerous ornate mirrors hanging from the limbs.  Theystump my dear ones.  My ever curious grandson, Karson, gazes at his reflection in the mirror he can most easily reach,  and I ask him, "Karson, what does God want for Christmas?"  With a puzzled expression and a questioning response he utters, "A mirror?"  I point him back to his adorable reflection in that small mirror and ask him what he sees.  "I see me, Gi~Gi...I see Karson!"  I tenderly cup his little face in my hands.  "And Karson, that's what God wants for Christmas!"  Ohhhhh, yes, long after the decorations are packed away, the message remains, because it is a message for every day of the year...


My dear, dear soul, you may find yourself standing in front of a mirror today.  There may be blemishes or scars or even a few wrinkles in that reflection.  There may be tears or eyes swollen from sorrow and sleep-deprived nights.  But God wants you--all of you!  Let HIM paint your face with His reflection--His blessed life.  So, should your Christmas bring an elf-on-your-shelf and gifts from Santa to your dear ones, don't let them overshadow Jesus...Don't let them even come close!  The truth is whatever you prize, you will end up praising 365 days a year.  Yes, dear one, there is a Savior.  There is a Shepherd of your soul.  And He wants you.  In exchange, you will receive all of HIM and the blessings of HIS life.  You will indeed find A PRESENT PEACE that nothing else can match...And that is the tale of a woman who loves Christmas.  It's my tale, and I'm sticking with it...

Kaleb Rutherford

Kaleb is the Editor & Publisher of CVGames and the host of the Parents Press Play Podcast. As a husband and homeschooling father to four boys, Kaleb provides a unique perspective on the gaming industry alongside other areas of entertainment and technology that have been enhanced by his 20+ years of covering these fields.

When not podcasting at Parents Press Play or covering the industry at CVGames, Kaleb loves to bowl, cook, spend time with his family, and cheer on the San Francisco 49ers and Texas Rangers.  However, the truth is that he can never get enough time sharing his love of video games and other areas of entertainment and technology that he covers through his website and podcast!

Tell Me the Story...

 "Tell me the story one more time, Gi-Gi, " Lucy pleads.  And so I do...

It was a chilly October evening when I arrived in the small town of Virden, Illinois.  Yes, so small it boasted no Walmart Supercenter or familiar grocery store chain.  Corn and soybean fields aplenty were on full display and lined every roadway inside and outside the city limits.  Yes, set against a backdrop of rich farming soil and big barns and silos--handed down from past generations--was the thriving brick church where your daddy served as both the worship pastor and the youth pastor.  Your momma, great with child, (yes, that was you, Lucy) continued to toot her flute, sing, and/or tickle the ivories of the baby grand piano weekly.

Your Gi-Gi arrived a couple of days before you made your grand entrance, so that I could get the charming little house you would soon occupy--with its usual Midwestern basement--spit and polished. (No, Lucy, I didn't actually spit on your furniture...It's just an expression!) And when all the cleaning had been completed, it was Halloween.  As your mom and dad relaxed, I greeted costumed children from near and far with handfuls of candy and a smile. And while your Gi-Gi was not dressed in a costume, my short and spiked  hairdo entertained more than a few trick or treaters on that October evening!  Yep, Lucy, many thought your Gi-Gi was a rock star!!  (Go ahead and laugh, Lucy...You always do!) Awww, but finally the porch light was turned off and between nervousness and exhaustion, a silent hush fell over that little cottage.

Bright and early the next morning, we braved the frosty fall air to make the hour long trek to Springfield for your mom's scheduled c-section.  We were anxious to meet the darling little girl who had situated herself in a nice comfy position with her head upward--so that her ears would be ever close to the beat of her mommy's heart (yes, dear Lucy, that was you). I paced the waiting room and repeatedly checked my phone for texts of promised pictures from your daddy.  And then, at 11:55am on November 1, 2007, I heard the familiar strains of BRAHM'S LULLABY waft through the hospital intercom!  You had arrived weighing just over eight pounds!  I rejoiced as those promised pictures indeed flooded my phone from your precious daddy!!  A few hours later, when you were settled with your mom and dad in your hospital room, I walked in and heard you crying.  I like to believe that you were telling your mom and dad--in no uncertain terms--that it was time to meet your Gi-Gi!  And so, I scooped you up and sang to you our little song--my version of a song my dear pastor's wife has sung to her babies..."I like your eyes...I like your ears...I like your nose--your hands, your feet, your toes.  I like your smile...I really do.  There's no one else exactly like you.  You could search the whole world and never find...Cause there's no one else...There's no one else exactly like you!" And yes, Lucy, you looked up at me and a sacred and beautiful hush fell across your face.  And that was the day that Lucy Shea Toller came to live with a mommy and daddy who had prayed over and over and over for a baby of their own.  And that was the day that Paula Rutherford first became a Gi-Gi...And nothing has ever been the same!

Dear friends, why does Lucy never tire of hearing that story?  It's because she loves hearing how she fits into her family.  She loves hearing how she was the longing realized by her mommy and daddy.  She loves hearing that she was wanted--that she was, and is, a big deal to us!  Yes, the same is true for each of us.  We want to know how we fit into God's family.  We need desperately to understand how He longs for joyous fellowship with us and that we were HIS big idea!  Oh, but we will never fully know that truth until we take God at His Word--until we take to heart the words of His His love letter to each of us.  Yes, He has told us His story...It's a story that includes you and me!  Just as I have sung that same song to Lucy, and each of my grandchildren after her, more times than I can count--God is singing His song to you and to me.  My friend, I invite you to hear it anew right now---"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."  Now that's a story worth telling again and again!

Kaleb Rutherford

Kaleb is the Editor & Publisher of CVGames and the host of the Parents Press Play Podcast. As a husband and homeschooling father to four boys, Kaleb provides a unique perspective on the gaming industry alongside other areas of entertainment and technology that have been enhanced by his 20+ years of covering these fields.

When not podcasting at Parents Press Play or covering the industry at CVGames, Kaleb loves to bowl, cook, spend time with his family, and cheer on the San Francisco 49ers and Texas Rangers.  However, the truth is that he can never get enough time sharing his love of video games and other areas of entertainment and technology that he covers through his website and podcast!

My Gentle Shepherd


I still chuckle when I recall the day that my sister told me she wanted to raise sheep---cute and fluffy and frolicking sheep!  A few months into her venture as a shepherdess, she had discovered that those descriptions should be replaced by--or certainly include--stubborn, prone to wander, and yes, a bit dumb!  It seemed that time and time again she had to rescue a wandering lamb or quickly turn over a sheep struggling on his back.  Indeed, she had discovered that the cute little flock she had envisioned running and jumping merrily through her green pastureland could not be left to their own devices!   Is it little wonder that our Lord painted the perfect word picture for humans in the form of sheep?  I think not!

You see, between fifteen and twenty years ago, I was the picture of a cast down sheep.  Yep, on my back~my legs flailing midair~that was me.  Life was indeed a daily trudge through the muck and the mire of an onslaught of rejection, misunderstanding and the labeling that accompanied it, and a deep ache of loneliness.  I remember the afternoon well that I pulled my car beside a pretty neighborhood park in Denton, Texas.  I was convinced that a change of scenery would do me some good.  And the truth is--I welcomed the thought of a place to cry unseen.  Of course, we sheep are never unseen, for our good Shepherd has His watchful eye on us always.  A few days earlier, a pencil etching of Jesus cradling a lamb in His arms had "fallen" into my hands.  I stared at it intensely on that quiet afternoon when it seemed the picturesque park had been abandoned just so I could talk and cry and talk and cry and talk and cry some more to the Shepherd of my soul.  From the depths of my broken heart poured the words of the following poem...And from the depths of my innermost being rose up His acceptance, His ready Presence, and His warm embrace.  I left that holy ground that afternoon with my circumstances unchanged, but with a PEACE that carried me through the storm to the other side--where I found renewed faith and a deep desire to lift up any little lamb I would encounter along the way.  It's a desire I carry with me to this day.  Dear one, we do indeed have a gentle Shepherd and in Him we find A PRESENT PEACE...

My Gentle Shepherd

He was...

Cradling me in His arms so strong, yet tender~


That His little lamb would find rest in compliant surrender;

And He was…

Caressing me with His hands so firm, yet kind~


That His little lamb would find healing from wounds only He could bind;

Yes, He was…

Soothing me with His voice so commanding, yet sweet~


That His little lamb would find victory even in apparent defeat;

And He was…

Watching me with eyes so piercing, yet lovely~


That His little lamb would find peace wherever she might be;

While He was…

Leading me with a gentle nudge to pastures green and waters still~


That His little lamb would find fulfillment that none could steal;

For He was…He is

My gentle Shepherd and I His little lamb by rebirth~

Ever seeking…Ever Learning

That through Him, I can have a taste of heaven on earth!

The Bride of Christ


A fluffy and lacy white ball gown with a cascading train, opera length gloves, a pearl and crystal encrusted tiara, an aisle of multiple tulle and vine-wrapped archways, urns of candles and flowers—these are just a few of the things that I envisioned for my only daughter’s wedding day.  Yes, these are the things I labored over to create a beautiful ceremony.  And after a few months of planning on paper, I rolled up my sleeves and worked for one week to transform the church sanctuary into a fantasy land.  But the truth is that I had labored on my knees for nineteen years for something far more important…My true “work” had been praying for a groom who would love my daughter as Christ loved the church.  And as she walked down the aisle on that November afternoon to the strains of how beautiful is the body of Christ, I watched the eyes of her groom in anticipation of his bride, and I knew that God had heard my prayers!


Ladies, we love romance—don’t we?!  We cry at the first sight of the doors swinging open to reveal a beautiful bride, and we sigh when the groom kisses her tenderly.  Even the toughest gal among us wants to be swept off her feet, if she is honest.  And yet, for many ladies, knights in shining armor and romance aren’t a reality.  Along with countless other women, we’ve listened to many a sermon about marriage.  However, usually a disclaimer is made at some point to the single gals in the crowd—“Now, for you ladies who aren’t married, remember that Jesus is your husband.”  What is wrong with that statement?  Somewhere along the way we have forgotten that there is ONE who desires to be the great love of our lives--the true lover of our souls.  Yes, Jesus is our husband—whether we are married, widowed, divorced, or single.  And when we come to recognize Him as such and fall in love with HIM, every other earthly relationship becomes grander and richer!  Ohhhhhhh, yes, YOU are the bride of Christ…You are His intended—His beloved….You take His breath away…The truth is that He longs for YOU!  Isaiah 62:5b tells us—“As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

Ahhhh, beloved sisters, nothing is wasted on God.  If you take a look back at Jewish history, you will see how our Heavenly Father sketches a beautiful portrait of His relationship with His people through the marriage ceremony.  Sit back and let me paint you a picture of what God has planned for each of you…


Can you picture a young man who has picked out the woman of his dreams?  Well, in ancient Israel, the man would prepare a contract to take to the home of the young lady he had picked.  Yes, he would include in this the bride price—the money he would pay to the gal’s father in exchange for permission to marry her.  This would be quite high.  After all, the family must be compensated for the cost of raising this young woman and also the young man wanted to demonstrate his love for her!  Oh, but you, the bride of Christ, have also been bought with a price!  You see, our groom—our Jesus—came to our house…Yes, He came to earth and presented His marriage contract.  Ladies, He paid for YOU with His very life.  Each time you take the Lord’s Supper you are remembering that this is my body given for you…” (Luke 22:20).


Well, dear ones, let’s continue to paint a picture of God’s plan through the Jewish wedding ceremony.  Next, if the young woman’s earthly father agreed to the bride price offered, the young man would pour a glass of wine.  As soon as the young woman drank from the cup, she became betrothed—or what we call today engaged.  Does this remind you of anything?  Oh, the beauty of the night Jesus poured wine for His disciples and said, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins…” (see Matthew 26:28-29). 


Today, we celebrate the engagement of a couple with dinner parties and wedding showers, as the couple spends hours together awaiting their wedding day. And sadly, sometimes, couples today end their engagement with nothing more than a few tears shed. Oh, but the Jewish practice was far different!  Once betrothed, the couple was legally bound and a divorce had to take place to end a betrothal.  It is also interesting to note that a betrothed couple parted ways for one to two years.  That’s right—they did not see each other at all during this time!  The young man would go to his father’s house to prepare a special room for his bride.  This place was always built on his father’s property or as an addition to his father’s house.  And the young woman went her way to begin working on her beautiful wedding garment.  She purchased cosmetics to make herself beautiful for her bridegroom.  She did not know when her groom would come for her.  In fact, the groom did not know when he would come for his bride.  Only the groom’s father knew when the time was right for him to take his bride home!  However, before the young man and young woman parted ways, the man would present his future bride with special gifts to remind her of him.  Please don’t let the spiritual significance of all this slip past you, ladies!  Yes, our Savior has gone ahead to prepare a place for us (see John 14).  We do not know when HE will come back for us.  In fact, Scripture tells us, “No one knows about the day or the hour…but only the Father.  Be on guard!  Be alert!” (see Mark 13:32-33).  However, as we await His return, our Savior has not left us without a special gift… “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things…” (see John 14:26).


As you try to picture the imagery, can’t you imagine the moment when the groom’s father tells him to go and get his bride?  It would typically be at night around midnight.  And so, the young woman had to be ready with her lamp trimmed.  As the young man came near the young woman’s dwelling, he would shout and a shofar would be blown.  The couple would go to the wedding chamber he had prepared.  They would stay there for seven days.  A friend of the groom would wait outside for word that they marriage had been consummated.  The couple would emerge from the chamber and then share a feast with their assembled family and friends.  Even as I reflect on this ancient custom, I find myself looking ahead to our GROOM.  You see, ladies, the seven days they spent in the wedding chamber is a picture of the seven years of tribulation that Scripture tell us will come upon the earth.  Oh, but just as they are safe in the wedding chamber, we shall be safe with our Heavenly Groom!  Did you catch the imagery of the blown shofar, or ram’s horn trumpet?  Yes, Scripture tells us of what we call the rapture—“for the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are alive…will meet the Lord in the air”  (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  And lastly, but far from unimportant, we see the feast they shared pointing us to the marriage supper of the lamb in Revelation 19—“Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns…for the wedding of the Lamb has come, and the bride has made herself readyFine linen, bright and clean, was given to her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)  Then the angel said to me, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’”


Beloved sisters in Christ, do you truly know that you are the Bride of Christ?  Are you falling more deeply in love with your Heavenly Groom or has your relationship with Him lost its spark?  Perhaps, you have been looking for love in all the wrong places while all the while Jesus wants you to come to understand the truth spoken in Song of Songs 1:2—“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.”


Each time I replay the video of my daughter’s wedding or open the upstairs closet to the large bag that encases her beautiful wedding gown, I am reminded that my Heavenly Groom is coming for me!  Let me close with one of my favorite stories that reminds me of this truth…Yes, it takes place at  The Shepherd’s Home---a special home for children and teenagers with Down’s Syndrome.  It seems that this place has a maintenance problem.  You see, as hard they try, the janitors cannot keep the windows in this home clean…They are ever dirty.  Why?  Well, the youngsters have been told about Jesus from the moment they came to live there…And their noses are ever pressed against the glass in anticipation of His return!  Ahhhhhhh, the beauty of simple faith…Will the Savior find you—His bride—waiting and longing and living for Him and His return?!  I pray so!

Becoming a Giant Slayer


Entering into this moment of ever possible PEACE--

I make the CHOICE...

I see no other GUIDE,

I hear no other TRUTH,

I step only in the imprint of Your blazed trail;

and in THIS sacred moment,

the frightening & paralyzing fog proves no match


that hems me in behind and before...


There are giants in the land!  And they are big and tall and terrible giants. Some are so conspicuous they can be seen by the naked eye.  They are almost tangible to trembling human hands.  And it's true that before they round the corner you can catch a whiff of the the foul scent of  their wickedness.  And to attuned ears, even their tipped toed advances are heard.


Oh, but other giants are concealed...Yes, they are cleverly disguised.  In their masquerades they cover over pride and greed and lust and power and countless other lures.  Indeed, there have always been giants in our land--in our towns--in our backyards--in our lives!   


King David knew a thing or two about giants.  Indeed, he had seen his share of them.  And yes, he had a slain a few along the way.  As a young shepherd boy he had killed a lion and a bear.  You might say it was necessary training for a future "giant slayer"!  As a teenager he faced a giant of a man named Goliath.  A walking arsenal was this Goliath who stood over nine feet tall and carried 200 pounds of armor.  But on the day David faced this behemoth-sized foe, there was a greater giant that stared him in the face...Yes, David faced a giant of paralyzing fear standing in the ranks of the army of his beloved Israel.  And yet, resisting the jealous taunts from those nearest and dearest to him, David stepped past their cowering fear clothed in his simple shepherd's tunic.  Israel's King Saul tried his best to outfit the small and unprotected frame of this shepherd boy in his personal military armor.  Ahhhh, but the truth is this--you can't fight giants in just any ol' armor.  And so, David laid Saul's armor aside and wrapped himself in the power of God's mighty Spirit.   


It's true that the colossal Goliath fell on that day..And alongside him toppled the gargantuan giant of fear.  But in the years that followed, meaner and uglier giants pursued David.  By thirty, he had traded his simple shepherd's tunic for the royal and ornamental robe of a king.  And with the change of clothing came giants of pride and lust and deceit that knocked much closer than the guarded palace doors.  They pounded on the unguarded door to David's heart, and he answered clothed in the vestiges of this earth's power and position.


David's failures were grievous.  He took the wife of another man and sentenced that man to a sure and certain death--- sending him to the front lines of a brutal battle.  Yes, David had forgotten that you can't fight giants in just any ol' armor.  Oh, but David, with a heart broken by his sin, returned to God.  His grievous failures led him to humble dependence upon God's mighty power.  And so, King David, knowing he was but a sheep prone to wander, would be clothed anew again and again in the only true armor adequate to face the countless other giants in his lifetime. 


Indeed, there are giants in your life and mine that need to be slain.  Yes, there are big and tall and terrible giants.  May the ever present and ever possible PEACE of our Lord be magnified larger and grander in our view than any giant of difficulty that shadows our paths.  "Yes, Lord, make us giant slayers," I pray...

Marathon friends...


It was several years ago that a beautiful red-haired teenager approached me with what most young ladies her age would have considered a strange request.  You see, she asked me to go shopping with her.  I must admit I was honored that she wanted to spend time with me!  And I suppose she knew that I held a third-degree black belt in shopping!   And so began a beautiful friendship where the second- story bedroom in my home became known as "The Morgan Brown Suite"!   While many wonderful movie marathons and shopping trips and late night conversations have followed since that first outing, I'll always remember that first trip to the outdoor mall we took.  You see, we covered every inch of Southlake Town Center as we searched for back-to-school clothes for her senior year of high school.  Now, Morgan is TALL...And well, I am not!  I had worn a pair of very blinged-out flip flops that were too wide for my very narrow feet on that particular day.  I had bought them at a 75% off shoe sale, but I digress.  Did I mention that Morgan is tall?!  You see, most of that day I found myself running in order to closely follow the stride of her long legs in shoes that didn't fit my feet.  And what was the result?  Let's just say I had some major blisters on my feet!  But every blister was worth spending time with Morgan.   Ohhhh, dear ones, when we determine to journey alongside one another, we can expect some "blisters"!  Friendship is all about blisters and unconditional love and running this race alongside one another with a willingness to forfeit personal comfort...

Running....Well, I've often said that if you see me running it's likely that there's a snake chasing me!   The truth is I am not a runner.  In fact, I really hate to exercise.  There, I said it!  And honesty is good for the soul, right?!  But, I have seen, and experienced, a great need in the body of Christ.  What is that need?  I believe there is a need for us to be marathon-running-kind-of-friends.  There is a need to bear with one another through pain and heartache and difficulties until we get to the other side of challenging circumstances.  Sadly, few are willing to suffer through the struggles of others if they last longer than a very brief time frame.  We have very little patience for struggles that aren't easy fixes.  But doesn't our Savior patiently lead us and guide us and bear with us--ever desiring that we see His truth?  Yes, He does!  And He has called us, fueled by the recognition of His undeserved grace and love, to do likewise.  What a privilege!

And so, many years before I was blessed to have Morgan Brown enter my life, I found myself deep in prayer for two ladies who faced difficult situations in their lives.  On my knees I found myself reflecting on a beautiful pair of dove grey shoes worn by one of those dear ladies.  Far more than the beauty of her shoes, I loved where I saw her shoes taking her!  Ohh, she had not arrived there yet, but as I prayed I saw through eyes of faith where our Lord WAS taking her!  And so, the following poem was birthed...

I've been watching you, my friend--

Watching your feet, sometimes weary, sometimes dancing... 

And as I've watched you journey through each twist and turn and bend, 

I've also watched your feet through each season life seemed to bring; 

Yes, I've watched your feet with wonder & awe, 

As you've journeyed through your springtime of beginnings-- hopeful & renewed; 

I've watched your feet, my friend, & liked what I saw... 

For in your spiritual sneakers, you've skipped with grace-- all doubts subdued; 

Oh, I've watched you, my friend, with a smile on my face, 

As you've journeyed into your summer of freedom--kissed by the Son,

And I've watched your feet in that unencumbered place, 

Clad in your spiritual sandals, you've stretched your toes--eager & ready to run; 

Yes, I've watched you, my friend, with a prayer on my lips, 

As you've journeyed into your autumn of preparation--still & reflective... 

I've watched your feet, secured & ready, preventing any slips, 

For nestled in your spiritual slippers--beside truth's warm embers--you've determined to live... 

But I've also watched you, my friend, with a tear on my cheek & a song of triumph, 

As you've journeyed to your winter of testing--painful & unknown, 

And once again, I've watched your feet climbing each hurdle & hump, 

Shod in your sturdy spiritual boots--you've made your way home... 

So, I'll be watching you, my friend, 

With my hand outstretched & my feet running alongside yours... 

And we'll journey together to the end,

Through spring & summer & autumn & winter-- as long as each season endures! 

My dear ones, I know many of you are weary from the battles you are facing.  I also know that true friendship is a rare commodity.  Oh, isn't it high time that the body of Christ rise up to run a different kind of marathon--a persevering-faith-kind-of-marathon?  Our Lord Himself will heal any "blisters" we incur along the way.  And we will find ourselves passing the baton off to others as we cross the finish line of our faith in unity and victory...To God be the glory!  Ready, get set, run!


Until All Are Free

 "There are no chains in the court of King Jesus." (Spurgeon)

Do you hear it?  Do you hear the sound of chains that have shackled God's people falling off of them and landing in a thunderous heap?  The hope of hearing that very sound is why I love disciplining other women.  Yes, I can imagine--as I intentionally and faithfully pray--an army of women rising up, marching in unison--their voices declaring the praises of but ONE!  It's not a lofty platform upon which I stand declaring this freedom.  Oh, no, my friends---like you, I struggle.  Positionally, I AM free in Christ.  Experientially, I am BECOMING free.  But I remember well the days when I saw no freedom in sight, when my experiences--my circumstances--blinded me to my true position in Christ.  So many scars and wounds bound me tightly.  And painful memories seemed to be set on replay.  But when you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, something rises up within you...And so it was that I penned the following words--

The chains that fetter me aren't the normal kind--

Around my wrists and feet you'll find no iron or rope...

Instead, memories old and new and wounds scarred and fresh bind...

They hold me fast and mock my hope;

The chains that fetter me aren't the normal kind--

Around my wrists and feet you'll find no fabric or steel...

Instead, fastened to yesterday, with slowed gait, I lag behind...

They grip with pain and capture my will;

The chains that fetter me aren't the normal kind--

Around my wrists and feet you'll find no straps or ties...

Instead, movie reels play a command performance in the mind...

They shatter my peace and flood with lies;

Perhaps, not iron or rope, fabric or steel, straps or ties; but chains are chains nonetheless--

My Savior beckons me to catch a glimpse of who I've been made to be...

Removing the Band-Aids, uncovering my deepest needs, He alone can soothe and dress...

Step by step, memory by memory, I rise up and become free!

And so, dear ones, I go back often to these words....Standing in an auditorium filled with over a thousand other ladies last February, I was reminded anew of the passion inside of me.  Yes, as long as I have breath my battle cry will be, "Until all are free!"  So my ears are attuned, my hands are reaching, my feet are ready, and my voice cries to all within shouting distance--" If you could see the woman God has created you to be, you would rise up and never be the same!"  Let the chains fall!


Yes, Lord, No Matter What!

Yes, Lord, No Matter What!

The normally spirited and devout African American congregation gathered weekly in the red brick structure that was situated on a busy corner. However, on this particular Sunday, a new year was dawning and a reverent hush fell over the beautiful and ornate oak pews and the worshipers who occupied them. Not a word was spoken…Not a note was piped through the antique pump organ…Not a chorus lilted from the choir loft. Indeed, for forty-five minutes nothing but silence and anticipation hung in the air. Finally, from the back of the stately old church came a lone voice. It was followed by another from the opposite corner. Smack dab in the middle to the front row and all the points between others gave utterance to their stirring hearts...Indeed, one at a time, men and women and children rose to their feet, but harmoniously and simply said, “Yes, Lord!” The pastor sat and nodded in silence as his congregants spoke those few, but profound, words. Finally, he, too, stood and lifted his eyes heavenward and declared, “You have heard our answer, Lord… What do you want to speak to us?”

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Overcoming Despair...An Uncommon Cure for a Common Life

Overcoming Despair...An Uncommon Cure for a Common Life

Pulling into what had been destined to be our residential area, the large Allied moving van made its way to the small house we would call home...Yes, it was over two decades ago when the driver parked on the curb and grimaced at the steep driveway that led to the entry of our humble abode.  I wasn't sure why he seemed so irritated, but walking inside, this fella shook his head and grumbled, "So you think you are going to fit all of that furniture into this small house?!"  Little did he know that I had earned a third-degree black belt in decorating and arranging furniture!  And yes, little did he know that the woman who stood before him was suffering from a broken heart.  I did my best to maintain a contented and enthusiastic facade.  I carefully camouflaged the gaping wounds that were deep inside my soul--ever threatening to burst open at a mere moment's notice.  Yes, I had left a spacious home in a hilly, wooded, and picturesque neighborhood in California, but more than that--I had left my heart--not in San Francisco--but in another portion of that golden state.  Ahhhhh, yes, the work before me would manage to occupy my wandering thoughts for awhile.

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