Thursday, March 31, 2011

Start Counting

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1:2

If forced to choose, I suppose that one of my favorite modern day inventions is the snooze button. Think about it. When people had to get up with the rooster crowing, the only viable snooze button was a fried chicken dinner. Today we have the luxury of rolling over, pushing a button and postponing the inevitable for a few more minutes. By the end of the day the extra twenty minutes won’t account for much, but It was a luxury I enjoyed this morning.

And today is a day to enjoy any luxury we can find.

Debate begins this morning on a supplemental appropriations bill and the full appropriations bill is scheduled for tomorrow. The past few days have been consumed with reading the bills and the proposed amendments. Personally, my brain is full and numbers are beginning to dribble out of my ears. But, not to worry, there are other much better qualified people who are reviewing the bill for the benefit of the citizens of Texas. (I hope.)

An eternal optimist, I’m not really expecting the next few days to be all that bad. But, just in case, there is a change of clothes and a toothbrush in my backpack.

Just a reminder to my fellow staff here at the Capitol:

1) This is not new, we do it every session.
2) The day will not last forever. It will just seem like it does.
3) You will win some and you will lose some.
4) The Lord will not fall off of His throne, regardless of what happens.

So, my advice to you is to start counting it all joy, because you will be tested today.

And, when you get filled with that joy, remember to tell your face. There will be a lot of long faces and short tempers in the building today. However, your joy can be contagious.

And, even if it isn’t contagious, it will keep people wondering what you are up to.

Lord, may your joy be our strength this day and forever. Amen

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Love is in the Air

He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 12:22

Love is in the air. It isn’t that stuff that is turning your car yellow and making you sneeze. That’s probably oak pollen. Love is that intangible feeling that turns otherwise rational young men into hopeless romantics. And, we got to see it in action in our office this week.

Our administrative aide in the office proposed to the woman of his dreams. He carefully orchestrated the event, gathering family members from both sides together for a dinner just blocks from the Capitol. Everyone was aware of the plan except for the lucky girl and the poor waiter who could not imagine why he was being rushed so much.

But, the plan was carefully orchestrated. After being seated at the table, the lucky man excused himself for a few minutes to go to the Capitol and make a trail of notes for the bride to be to follow at the appointed time. It began at the south entrance to the Capitol grounds and ended with a bouquet of roses at the front mic on the House floor. Upon his return, we scarfed down our food and all said our good-byes to each other.

While the special couple began the leisurely walk that would end on the House floor, the remainder of us rushed to the House gallery. We had all been invited to participate as spectators to that special moment when Michael went down on one knee and offered the ring as the pledge of his eternal love to that special girl.

The moment came as they walked into the House Chambers below us. He walked her toward the front mic and handed her a note to read. She paused to read the note with a smile on her face and turned toward him. Not wanting to miss a second of the action, her dad snapped a picture just as she was turning. She saw the flash out of the corner of her eye and looked up, startled to see both her family and his beaming down at them from the seats above her.

The secret was out. Michael went down on one knee, asked her something we couldn’t hear and offered up the ring. We had no difficulty discerning the answer, but just to make sure she shouted up to us, “That was a ‘yes!’” The rest of the evening was all hugs and smile as we congratulated the happy couple.

It was a delightful break in an otherwise hectic work day.

Did I mention that the girl of Michael’s dreams is my youngest daughter? He has found a good thing.

Lord, thank you for bringing Michael and Kristi together. May You always be at the center of their relationship. Amen

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

An email was sent to our office a few days ago referring to the legislator with whom I work as an IDIOT. In the world of instant messaging and emailing the protocols have changed. No longer able to get nuances across with the choice of vocabulary, writers are sometimes led to use all capital letters to signify that they are yelling. I was made aware that the practice of using all caps was uncouth when one of my daughters told me to quit yelling in a text.


“Yes, Mom, you are.”


“Why are you typing in all caps then?”

. . . Because the caps lock was on.

Then, yesterday I received an email from a friend who was typing in all caps, venting over her frustration of a tough day, and she ended the email with YES. I AM YELLING.

I had to smile. When I was her age there is no way my frustration would have been vented by typing in all caps. There was a time when my frustration could only be appeased by making someone else as frustrated as I was. And, if I do say so myself, I was pretty good at sharing the pain.

But, one of the joys of growing in the Lord has been learning to accept the peace the Lord has given me. With a mentor who frequently admonishes, “Don’t let it steal your peace,” the lesson was not instantaneous. And, I often need reminders. But, like all other lessons, once it is learned and practiced it becomes more of a habit. When I feel my temper rising like the mercury in a thermometer, I repeat the mantra to myself. “It won’t steal my peace. It won’t steal my peace. IT WON’T STEAL MY PEACE!”

Generally, by the time I get to that point, I’m laughing at myself and well on my way to getting over whatever it was that got me riled in the first place - until the next time.

Jesus warned us that we would have tribulation in the world. It shouldn’t take us by surprise. For example, we will be working on the budget this week. But, be of good cheer, He has overcome the world. Don’t let the circumstances steal your peace.

Lord, thank You for the peace that passes all understanding. I pray for an extra portion of Your mercy and grace this week as we juggle responsibilities and prepare to debate the state budget. Amen

Monday, March 28, 2011

Are you Praying?

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 1 Timothy 2:1

Just so you know, my life is not particularly quiet and peaceable at the moment. I just wanted to make sure you are remembering to pray for all those people you are supposed to be praying for, especially the ones in authority. And, on behalf of my fellow staffers here at the Texas Capitol, could I just ask that you add us to the list?

The appropriations bill is coming up for consideration on Friday. Generally, we look forward to Friday because it tends to be a quieter day and we are able to catch up on those things that have fallen by the wayside. Instead, this week we are looking at the day we normally all collapse in exhaustion to be the day we will have to be at our sharpest. It might be OK if we got to rest in the first part of the week to prepare for the onslaught, but legislative time does not work that way.

So, just to make you feel better, please know that your legislators will determine how to spend the $164 billion budget at the end of a long week when we are all exhausted and everybody involved would rather be doing anything but working into the wee hours of the morning.

Now, if that does not motivate you to prayer, I don’t know what will.

Lord, I pray for your grace to go before us this week. Give each person involved in this process rest in You. Amen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Closed Door

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord. Proverbs 21:31

In a rare move, one of my staffers just shut my office door, leaving me alone with my computer to write the devotional.

For the past week the urgent has been taking precedence over the important in my life. My calendar no longer reflects all of my duties. The prompt to indicate whether an issue is of low, medium or high importance makes me chuckle. At this point, only the items threatening to go nuclear which are ranking as both urgent and important are making the list at all. I have to prioritize from there, determining which on can be pushed aside just long enough to complete what is right before me.

My weekend was sacrificed to preparation for a bill hearing we will have this afternoon. My afternoon will be spent in the hearing. Listening with one ear, working on another bill hearing for tomorrow and reading legislation that will be coming up on the floor in the weeks to come. Going home in the evening is not getting off of work, it is merely changing where I sit while I read. Doing only one thing at a time is no longer a luxury I can afford.

And, can I be perfectly honest with you? I’m not as young as I used to be.

After 18 years of this grueling schedule, I have to admit, I love it! It is a joy and a blessing to know that you are where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to be doing. My job is to prepare the legislator with whom I work for the day of battle. But, after I do all I can do, I trust the Lord to do the rest.

Now, having carved five minutes out of my day to do the important, I am prepared to open up the office door and let the urgent back in.

Thank you, Lord, that you for the Peace You give in the midst of chaos. Amen

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

I make it Monday through Wednesday without too much difficulties, but Thursdays are beginning to get to me. The alarm and I had words this morning. My body knows it has already put in more hours in the past three days than it will in an entire week when we aren’t in session. This regiment, like getting old, is not for sissies.

Some of the proposals other states have discussed as a means to reduce budget deficits include four day work weeks and employee furloughs. By working ten hour days, but only working four days a week, there would be efficiencies in utility and maintenance costs. Likewise, requiring employees to take non-paid time off, salary savings would be accrued.

My body is telling me that it would be good with either of those options at the moment. Working only 10 hours a day would be a reduction in my hours. And, instead of taking non-paid time off, it wouldn’t take much to convince me to pay the state for some down time.

And, while sleep would be a nice addition to my schedule, what I really need is rest. And, that only comes through a personal relationship with Christ.

So, Lord, here’s me coming to You.

Thank you, Lord, for Your rest. Amen

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Top Ten

There are tens of thousands of pages of legislation considered every legislative session. Generally (but not always), you can count on a legislative proposal either coercively taking your freedom or your money. The principal that rights are given by God and protected by government has become perverted over time.

But, God wasn’t confused when He laid out the laws. And, He only had ten:

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

You shall have no other gods before Me.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant my rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep theSabbath day.

Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

How wise would we be if we just quit trying to re-invent the wheel?

Lord, write Your commandments on my heart and help me to be ever faithful to You. Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Did We Take the Long Cut?

“It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea.” Deuteronomy 1:2

My husband is notorious for adventures in traveling. He greatly prefers scenic back roads and the paths least traveled. To adults, that can be a relaxing way to spend a day. To a kid, not so much. While all of our children were excellent travelers, their patience had its limits. On one trip home to Austin from from Grandma’s house in Houston, Dad decided to take the backroads. When we turned off the main road, he announced we were going to take a short cut home. As time and miles passed, so did patience. Finally, middle child asked, “Dad, did you take the long cut?”

That’s probably how the Israelites felt as Moses spoke to them going into the Promised Land. Forty years after they began their journey, Moses announces, “It is eleven days’ journey by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea.” - the most direct route from where they were to where they were going. Great. Now he tells them. But, the Lord wanted them to take the long cut so that all of those who were unfaithful would die out along the way and the new generation would receive the promises.

I tremble to make the comparison between a legislative session and the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. Work with me. I’m not
trying to imply there is a Promised Land at the the end of the session. We are 64 days into the session and we have passed (let me do the math)- uh, one bill. It is true we spent two whole days on it. It is also true that it was passed with a scenario that makes it almost certain to die in limbo because the House and Senate are in a standoff as to which version of the bill should prevail. (Technically nothing has really passed, but we all had our press conferences and patted ourselves on the back.)

So, we are six days away from the half-way mark. Seventy-six days to complete the budget, re-districting, and sunset reviews of TxDOT, the Department of Insurance and various other agencies. Oh, and there are another 7,320 bills that have been filed for our consideration. Rumors of special sessions are already beginning to circulate.

From the back seat, it is beginning to feel like we are taking a long cut.

I suppose my husband’s example might work in this environment, too. Instead of worrying about the time in the car, I guess I’ll just focus on the scenery that is passing by.

Lord, help us to learn the lessons you have for us while we are on this journey so that we do not have to repeat them again in the future. Amen

Monday, March 14, 2011

Your Comforts Delight my Soul

In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94:19

What do you say to comfort a person who has lost a loved one?

What do you say to a family who has lost a home or business to a flood or hurricane?

What do you say to a nation that has been devastated by earthquake and tsunami?

Throughout the weekend we found ourselves turning to hear the news about the earthquakes in japan. I find myself unable to actually comprehend the horror of the situation. One minute people were going about their daily business, thinking about what would be for dinner that night. The next minute buildings collapsed and soon after, entire cities were swept away in the tsunami. As if that were not enough, rescue efforts are hampered by continuing aftershocks with the potential for additional tsunamis. And, their nuclear reactors are melting down. The people need food, water and shelter.

Like Job’s friends, I find myself at a loss of words.

The situation does, however, put the Texas budget into perspective. Given a “crisis” to solve, I’d have to say our task appears easier than Japan’s.

Lord, we pray for your peace that passes all understanding to be with the people of Japan. My Your comforts delight their souls, even in the midst of this great tragedy. And, Lord, we pray that You will help us all to keep Your eternal perspective on each task you put before us. Amen

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Kidding

The Lord reigns; let the people tremble!

When my oldest child was about five she was having a particularly bad day. One thing led to another and I decided “time out” was my best resort. She was sentenced to five minutes of silence in her room. We are not talking about sitting in a chair for five minutes. Or, not having anything to do for five minutes. Just, go to your room and be quiet for five minutes. Three hours later I emerged the victor when she was finally released from her room, having just completed her punishment.

Lesson learned for child: Mom’s not kidding.

God isn’t kidding either.

Those Ten Commandments. Really, He is not fooling around.

Love your neighbor. No joke, He’s serious.

No gods before Him. Really, that includes all of our TVs and electronic toys.

The Lord reigns!

And, it makes me tremble to think of the consequences of where our society is leading us.

Lord, have mercy on us and on our nation. Amen

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Call to God

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

After struggling for over an hour this morning to write the devotional, I finally resigned myself to the fact that it just wasn’t happening and turned my attention to prayer, instead. My list of things to discuss with the Lord has gotten quite long over the past few weeks. I began with telling God there was just no way to do the devotional if it was going to take up this much of my time. How could I possibly get everything on my work list done, my prayer list done, and all the other things that are screaming for my attention?

He reminded me, “Call on Me, and I will answer you.”

Oh, instead of struggling with a topic for the devotional, I just have to call on You?

“That is correct.”

So, what’s the message for the devotional today?

“What did I just tell you?”

Oh, that’s the message?

“Yes, I will answer you and show you great and mighty things.”

Wow! Like what to write in the devotional?


OK, maybe God didn’t actually say, “Bingo.” But, that’s the message I got. And, I suppose that it is a good message for all of us to remember. Next time you find yourself throwing up your hands in frustration, just leave them raised for a few minutes of praise and worship. Call to Him, and He will answer.

Lord, thank you for the reminder. Amen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Daily To Do LIst

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

There are times to speak and times to let things speak for themselves.

I think I’ll move theses behaviors to the top of my To Do List this morning.

Lord, thank you for the reminders of what living for You looks like. Amen

Friday, March 4, 2011


He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding. Proverbs 12:11

It is never a good sign when on a Monday morning I feel that internal urge to just settle for what we deserve in public policy. Life was less complicated 18 years ago when I was going through the motions of life with no particular regard one way or the other for government. The rate of taxation, environmental policy, foreign policy, health care, even pro-life issues were a mere blip on my radar screen as I went through the daily routine of the care and feeding of my family. I couldn’t allow anything like the evening news to interfere with my schedule.

It took a major breech of parental rights for me to comprehend the full power and reach of the government. I was not amused to find that while my peers and I had been engrossed in our day to day living, our government had taken on roles and responsibilities it was never designed to encompass. And so, I had my first understanding that the phrase, ‘Somebody ought to do something’ meant get to work.

This morning, listening to the appropriations committee, reading some of the bills that have been filed, going over the news clips of the state and nation, and reviewing the emails in my inbox asking for action on first one item and then another, I fail to see where we have made any significant progress in the past 18 years.

Our government is like a garden. The ground was carefully tilled and prepared with our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. The appropriate roles of the various branches of government were planted, laid out like the neat rows of plants in a spring garden. But, as our nation began to grow and the government expanded to accommodate the times, weeds began to grow up beside the legitimate plants. The occasional misappropriation of funds for private gain, over regulation of business to benefit a specific special interest, or intrusion into personal rights and responsibilities didn’t seem like such a big deal in the whole scheme of things.

The little roots of those weeds took hold as the cultivation of our garden was ignored. Now, after all the years of neglect, it is like walking into a vegetable garden after a summer rain. The deer ate all the green bean vines. The cucumber plants have exceeded their boundaries and are trying to overtake the pepper plants. The tops of the tomato bushes have been beaten down and need to be staked to keep the fruit from rotting on the ground. Through it all the weeds are so thick that pulling them out puts the roots of the legitimate plants at risk. (And, did I mention the temperature and humidity are both in the 90”s?) Restoration of the garden is hard work.

The eternal optimist in me leads me to plant a garden every spring, knowing the frustrations i will face in the summer. The occasional fresh tomato, squash or cucumber makes the effort worth while, even when the price of the produce in the grocery store is less than the cost of the garden. But, alas, there comes that point where I throw up my hands and concede that the weeds and the deer have won at the end of each season.

Looking at the “government garden” this morning makes me shake my head and question the effort to fight back the weeds. But, alas, the alternative is not an option.

Lord, help us. Amen.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Die Quietly

And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:10

Late last evening I received an email from a friend who took exception to my devotional yesterday. Apparently, it hit a nerve. And, I still owe that friend an email to remind them that there was no offense intended. The devotionals are my way of sharing what the Lord is doing and showing me in my life. If everybody agreed with me it would be a boring life, indeed. I’m OK with different opinions so long as they can be reconciled with the Word of God.

But, that’s not my point this morning. My point is how the Lord uses the devotional in my life. When I first received the email about yesterday’s entry, I chuckled at the righteous indignation that was oozing from the pages. About 15 seconds later, the Holy Spirit convicted me of the fact that I had spent most of the day in a righteously indignant huff myself.

I didn’t even try to reason with the Lord and explain to Him why my huff was warranted and my friend’s was not. I know better. A dear friend and mentor of mine spent quite a season in my life explaining to me that you cannot offend a dead man. If Christ is in me, then sin is dead. When that offense rises up, it is a clue that something else needs to die.

Once the general principle of ‘you can’t offend a dead man” was ingrained in me, my mentor moved on to a shorthand reminder of my sin. When I whine and complain about an offense I should never have picked up in the first place, he gently reminds me, “Die quietly.”

Lord, help us all to die to self and to live for Christ. Amen

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Entitlement Dog

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Thirty minutes before the alarm was scheduled to go off this morning my basset buzzer sounded. It is attached to the 65 pound hound who stole my heart as a puppy. Unlike my alarm, Sam has no snooze button. Ignoring him is futile.

As a youngster, Sam had “doggie door” privileges. He was allowed to come and go as he pleased. However, it pleased him to take things outside that shouldn’t go outside (my glasses, snacks, knitting projects, socks, etc.) and bring inside things that shouldn’t be inside (mud, etc.). That didn’t please me so much, so the doggie door remains closed most of the time. The result is that Sam has to ask to go out and come in, and I get to check to make sure no contraband is coming in or going out - it is like a border crossing, except you don’t have to have the mud wiped off your feet to cross the border.

So, this morning I drug myself out of bed and opened the doggie door so that Sam could both go out the door and come back in without disturbing me, yet again. No sooner had I returned to my bed and settled in, then Sam was whining at the door to be let back in. Yes, he had gone out the doggie door. But, he has become so accustomed to whining to get someone to open the door that he totally missed the fact that he had been empowered to do it on his own.

And so, it hit me. My dog is a liberal. He wants food, shelter, health care, and doggie treats, but he doesn’t want to have to work for them. Even when he is provided with a means to take care of himself, he whines and expects me to do things for him.

Here’s the really scary part. I know better. An annoying basset hound is not the fault of the dog. It is the fault of the owner. When I pay attention to exercising Sam (a tired basset is a good basset) and training him to do things the right way, he gets the message and complies. After all, his whining to get in and out is trained behavior as a result of his poor doggie door protocol. I have gotten exactly what I asked for. It is just easier to get up and let him in and out than it is to re-train him.

Anybody seeing where this message is going in relation to government?

Let me just say, it is time for us to start checking to see if the doggie doors in our life are open and we are expecting something we should be able to do for ourselves. It is time to pick up the slack.

Lord, thank you for Your Word that clearly articulates the principles under which you expect us to operate. Amen

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hope in the Lord

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

Well, the lull before the storm is over. This week the legislative committees have begun to meet with a vengeance. Flipping through channels and catching tidbits from here and there, it appears there is a common thread. “We understand money is limited, but don’t take away from our program.”

It seems easier to motivate a crowd to object to having a program or benefit taken from them than it is to get the general public to object to their money being taken to pay for the program. Of course, that could be because the people whose money is being taken are at work trying to earn a living and can’t afford the time off to come and complain. But, whatever the reason, it does seem that there are more people who would prefer to be kept than who would prefer to be free.

And, that makes me sad.

But, I’m not discouraged. Our Lord is a kind and merciful God who has richly blessed our nation. He is not raising up a new generation of leaders for nothing. My job is not to change things. My job is to be obedient to the purposes and plans of the Lord.

So, regardless of what my eyes see or my ears hear, I will continue to place my hope in the Lord.

Lord, give me courage and strengthen my heart to continue to pursue Your purposes regardless of my circumstances. Amen