The Night In Paducah!

Almost 150 ladies jammed into the fellowship hall of Bellview Baptist in Paducah on Saturday night, April 18th, 2015. I knew from the start that this would be a monumental experience of chocolate, California Chicken Salad sandwiches, chocolate fountains and tons of laughs. Over twenty churches represented, it was a stellar event directed by Carolyn Martin and her committee of creatives. But the best part was the power of the anointing that fell fresh on the place; many moments of tears and laughter. I praise God for every opportunity like this, never ever taking it for granted. Women of all ages, including Madi - who helped me play air guitar! Praising God today, that many women will be empowered for greatness today, walking in total forgiveness by our Savior.

Delanco Camp Memories

Jeff and I were newlyweds, just married about six months when we were asked to join the music staff of the Delanco Family Camp Week in NJ back in 1974. We have Dave VanSciver of then Ocean Grove, to blame for all this. He’s the one who thought we were worthy of such an invite. And that first visit turned out to be a life-time of memory making Delanco calendar stops from 1974 all the way through to as recent as 2010. 

I remember meeting Carleton Bodine, Sr., president of Delanco Camp and recalling him eyeing us up and down. I’m sure he was thinking, “There’s no way that these radical contemporary singers will fit into our more conservative audience.” He probably was right. The song services, as they called them in ’74, were much more traditional and more mainstream, usually led by inspirational artist, Frank Jacobs. On the piano was the ever-present Mary Boughton, a favorite for many years.

So, to break in to this well-established Delanco machine was no easy fete. But we were no dummies either. In while I would have loved to have turned up the amps and fire up our reel-to-reel tracks, filled with drums and Andrae Crouch songs, our very first song on that infamous July Friday night in '74 was “Down By The Well”. I chose this sacred song because it was written by good friends of the Bodines, Herb and Blanche Osborn of Bridgeton, NJ. I smile as I think even back then (only twenty years old), I knew what political persuasion and favor could do. Everyone smiled. Everyone lifted their hands. And the start of the Duffield music influence began at Delanco.

Needless to say, two twenty year olds - Jeff on the piano and me on vocal - were some of the early singers to introduce a more contemporary worship sound to Delanco Camp. Carleton Bodine, Jr., and his leadership, desired to reach out to a younger audience. The singing group he led, The King’s Crusaders, performed a mix of contemporary and gospel favorites sung by some of south Jersey’s best teens… many of which are still our friends today.

On those July summer nights in the 70s when Family Camp was at its peak, you could hardly find an empty seat on those wooden benches. And be prepared that if you didn’t come early enough for those evening services, you’d have to park way off in some sand ditch! It was an exciting time of our lives. It was the formation of our worship music. It was the beginning of something supernatural in the lives of teens as well as adults. 

Oh, and we can’t forget the sandpit softball games with Jerry Ruff! We’d die of exhaustion and heat, but those were some great duels. After ten days in a row of softball, singing, leading devotions, consuming some pretty doggone good camp food, preaching, drinking way too much BOOST, and staying up late every night - I gotta say, “I miss it all.”

Holy Spirit Technicalities


With her permission, I want to share an email with you. This woman recently attended a service where Jeff and I ministered.

Dear Duffields,

     My heart was heavy today as I entered my church. It was a cold and bitter day outside and it almost reflected exactly what was going on in my own heart. I was surprised to see that we were having a guest ministry share this morning. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was disappointed that my pastor wasn’t speaking today. My husband and I had a terrible fight just as I walked out the door. He’s not a Christian, and I go through this almost every time I make any concerted effort to do anything spiritual. It’s quite a battle. He especially hates when I give money or tithe and that makes me so sad.

     You wouldn’t know this, because I attempt to smile a lot and cover up my despair on the inside. We’ve also been slammed with financial hardship and that makes it doubly hard to live in that house. My husband’s uncle passed away recently and he was a good Christian, but all my husband could say was, “Foolish man - gave most of his money to that church. Just think how he could have taken care of all of us with that!?” Of course I think, “Foolish man (my husband), if you took care of your wife it wouldn’t be so hard”. I work two jobs and my husband is on disability.

     I’m sorry to drag you through all this, but it will make sense to you in a moment: What happened today during the worship time while you were singing, was such healing for me. I “heard” my Heavenly Father say to me, “Daughter, I know you. I love you. I am your Source. Please love your husband unconditionally and walk tall and stand firm. I got this. Do not suffer despair anymore. I will deal with your husband and he will turn around, but you must love him first. Do not be his slave, but love him. You are not to blame. You have been faithful.” So instead of hearing my pastor this morning, God brought you. And even through the laughter and tears I can say, thank you for all you shared to help me open my eyes, ears and heart. Bless you for coming…

     In Jesus’ name, Jane

Now, here’s the technical details of that worship service:

1. No song was sung about marriage.

2. There was no mentioning of tithing or giving.

3. No instructional teaching or preaching on “wives, love your husbands…”.

4. No sharing about depression or despair and how God can overcome.

5. I didn’t sing a single irrelevant song, just to tickle ears or make people like me.

6. I never once mentioned the “how to” or even give a five point sermon on relationships.

7. But what we did do was laugh, sing and worship.

We worshiped so much that the atmosphere was filled with a calming presence of the Holy Spirit…just singing and worshiping and letting God heal, transform, enlighten, speak, encourage, convict, and inspire! And best of all, God did all the things that I could never do. This is how lives are changed - not by our own methods, trends, statement songs or pragmatic routines - but by being in His Holy presence. If you’re a worship leader, a singer or musician - create the space, the capacity, the room that will allow the Holy Spirit to breathe.


This article also posted on Southern Gospel Times.



The Ennunciator


No More Dry Bones

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

All These Blessings

All these blessings include:

the smell of children who rarely bathe

tired feet

cold showers

rice & beans everyday

a marathon of hugs

a sick stomach

a broken heart

and a life that is changed...forever.

We. Are. Glad.

"Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad. - Psalm 126:2-3

Laughter and singing. It's just a few of the ways that God does great things. This is my mission to the world. I'm not a theologian but I believe I have a degree in the Ministry of Laughter & Singing, creating a sacred stop of fun so desperately needed in our churches and within the leadership of women's events worldwide. ..Setting the atmosphere so ALL women, no matter their learning or listening curve, will hear.

Join me on this WE. ARE. GLAD. journey for 2015 & 2016!

My Brother-In-Love

Our dear Wayne is struggling tonight in ICU in Christiana Hospital in Delaware. Such a difficult day for him and for all of us. We are praying for comfort as he transitions from this life all the way into the arms of Jesus. Thank you, Wayne, for teaching me all about unconditional and unselfish love. 

The Word of Remembrance

It's not been an easy road for Jeff's dad this year. Lots of extreme changes, lots of adjustments and surely lots of physical and emotional struggles. But the picture of the year for our family is right here. I secretly took this picture, hoping just to keep it as a reminder for our family. But then I thought of you today. You just might need the encouragement today too.
The difficulties and hardships seem to dissipate and disappear when a word of "remembrance" is given. It was of utmost importance for Jeff to remind his dad of the good times, the sacrifices, the hard work, the joys. the gifts, and the laughter.  
I do believe that this was as much of a healing for Jeff as it was for Pop Geo. 
That's what gift words of remembrance do: 
They heal. 
They reinforce good feelings; 
They are never forgotten.
So pass along a word gift today to your family and friends. 
Make it a tradition. In fact, make it a common practice everyday.
"With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life."

"Christmas Praise" on SoundCloud



This Is How I Know


Leave It Alone 'Til Next Year

Six huge Bradford Pear trees adorn and surround the pool in the backyard. It is very appealing in the summer, providing shade from the hot sun. It looks so beautiful with the contrast of hunter green leaves against the aqua blue sky and water. But what's ahead for us is the constant undertaking of keeping the barrage of leaves out of the pool. I guess I should buy a pool cover and be done with it. But then I wouldn't be able to see the pretty water all year! Whatever..

Last season's clean up got way ahead of us and it literally took all summer to get the pool in perfect condition. Holistically speaking, it would have been better just to drain the entire pool and start all over again. Every day that we were home was consumed in cleaning, clearing out the filter, buying PH balance products, shock and treat. Over and over again. Finally about Labor Day, we were ready for the plunge. Guess how many times I actually got IN the pool? Three times. That comes out to be about $500 a plunge, I figure. For that amount of money, I could just join the country club pool in town... And they can worry about those laughing leaves.

God's beautiful handiwork of autumn's arrival - the gold, the red, the yellow, the burgundy - couldn't possibly be a menace, but it is. When the colors fall, there's a mess to contend with. As glorious as my backyard is, I know there's work to be done.

And if nothing more, it's just for a season. For when the beauty falls, the opening on the branch where the leaf fell from the tree, seals up - to prepare for the next season of green. The beauty of growth and prosperity is in a holding pattern only for a little while. We might be sad to see the naked bare Bradford Pear trees, but again we'll be happy when we see the new shoots push their way through next spring. I think..

So where are this season's leaves we "oooh-ed and ahhh-ed" over? Some are in a pile in the backyard, while others have been hauled off kicking and screaming by the city maintenance truck. But the more ornery of the bunch stare at me from the bottom of the pool, just laughing, pointing and carrying on, saying, "You can't get me now! I'll be waiting for you when it gets warm! And then we'll be all brown and slimy." Scoundrels.


Never Too Late For The Real Party

I'm psychologically late to this party called The National Quartet Convention and Southern Gospel Music Industry. I go each year to Louisville kicking and screaming with my husband (this year it's in Pigeon Forge). I go mainly to see the people; to chuckle about hair styles, towering banners, buses they can't afford, and circus-like booths on the midway of trinkets. I LOVE these people though. I adore them, even in their quirkiness. (I probably wrote the book on quirky, but whatever).

I'm less of a fan of the whole stereo-typed music industry thingy. Yet, Jeff and I grow more each day in creating engaging friendships with the people we love so much. And now living in Nashville, not a day goes by that we aren't stirred by their influence, their human discourse, their ache for bookings, their financial turmoil, their strive to live, write and dream. I watch. I observe their huge hearts for survival in this fickle-demanding "entertain me" church world.

Jeff and I look like latecomers, or maybe we're actually retro newcomers to this party. Not sure. We were way too early to that crazy party back in the 70s. Our music was probably a bit too hip for the room. Singing with Sammy Hall and then later turning down offers to play and sing for other musicians' dreams, we decide to write and create our own space. From the inside world of this progressive gospel inspirational music bandwagon, Jeff is an influence. Me? Maybe not so much. But my prayer is: "God, help me to inspire others. Help me to encourage, build up and edify other musicians." That's what I love to do.

Holy Spirit-filled musicians and songwriters need to think and dream bigger, beyond their expected audience criteria or cultural demands. I ask God to "open doors", and He does. I ask God to open my ears, and He does. I even ask God to blow my socks off and knock me off my feet. And He does. And He did. Last night. Set your musical preferences aside for six minutes.

Meet new friends, The Wilbanks. This is another level. This is anointed Holy Spirit infused music, in my own opinion. It transcends genre, gets beyond the brick wall barren land and brings together the vast separation between the stage and seats. Musicianship. They've been around for years. I hadn't heard them until last night in Pigeon Forge at Patterson Productions Homecoming. I love when I'm speechless, moved to tears and forced to experience worship music that not only feeds my soul, but feeds my insatiable palette as a musician starved for musical worship experience. 

And the best part of this particular Wilbanks video? Besides the fact that they aren't "young", it's the shock, awe and utter hush of the NQC center stage audience that are blown away. Pockets of praise and adoration went on for several minutes, even after the video is over. How incredible, that the very venue, which has had its preferences, its buy-out, its struggling narrow ways - now becomes a sanctuary. Music, filled with God's anointing does this. 

She's On The Dance Floor Now

    There's rejoicing all over heaven and I don't doubt that it's quite loud up there. My fiery and peppery friend, Phyllis Brandt, took a final two-step over onto the ultimate dance floor of heaven. I will surely miss my perky and feisty friend, that's for sure.
    The picture above was taken several years ago when we celebrated Phyllis' 80th birthday. From left to right is my friend Amy, then my mother, Naomi; seated next is Opal, then me, then Donna (Phyllis' daughter) and of course, Phyllis. That was a special day of celebration for my dear friend, although I remember it being quite a challenge to get Phyllis to agree on some sort of party. I am grateful that Donna was persistent. Later, there's no doubt, Phyllis loved every minute of the lavish attention.
    Phyllis was nothing like my own mother. My mother tried to be a bit more refined, a tad shy at times and always tried to be dignified and cultured. Phyllis, on the other hand, was more brash and bold, extremely loyal, but always speaking whatever was on her mind with that true South Philadelphia flare. Donna and I would laugh because we wondered whose mother was who's?? Phyllis could surely have been my mother, that's for sure. And Donna? Well, there's no doubt, with her dignity and decorum, she should have been Naomi's daughter.
    In while it's so hard to say good-bye, the memories of those little visits inspire me today. I can almost hear her saying, "OH, I'm fine. You know, Alan and Donna take good care of me." And indeed they do. 
    She adored her children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She especially loved Pie, her cat. Pie finally comes out to greet me on my last visit with her. This is rare. Phyllis says Pie is afraid of most people. I bend down to pet Pie and Phyllis says, "You must be something special 'cause she don't come out for nobody."
    "No, whatever the special vibe I'm exuding to Pie comes from the fact that I'm probably as loud and brash as you, Phyllis, so she's used to that."
    Thank you, my friend, for letting me love you and your bouncy bubbly self. No one will ever replace you in my heart. Dance on, my sister. Dance on.



My special needs brother-in-love is making a major transition in his life. Wayne will be moving into a group home in Maryland. And he couldn't be happier! He loves his work and he loves his friends at Bayside. Over the years, Wayne has been extremely loyal to his dad, but through recent health issues, George can no longer be his 24/7 caregiver. While we as a family have worried and labored over how to tell Wayne this news, the irony is - Wayne has expressed his excitement about his new life and his new room! It's like he's that teenager heading to college! Who knew.

Wayne entered my world in 1968 and we have been buddies ever since. He'll say, and I quote, "You're my favorite sister-in-law, Sue..". (I'm his ONLY SIL!) He may be handi-capped in description but he has a sense of humor. Wayne does not suffer a handi-cap in his heart.

How fun it would be for Wayne to receive cards and pictures from his extended family, friends and even new friends. If you'd like to send a card, include a picture of you or your family with the names on the back of the picture, and send it to:

Wayne Duffield

c/o Susan Kuff

25 Townsend Ave

Bridgeton, NJ 08302



This Tree

The other side of this tree looks pretty healthy. You would never know that this dangerously hollowed-out oak fortress is suffering by viewing it from the opposite side. I pass it everyday when walking the park. I've never seen this angle or view before. Why? Because today I reverse my walk. Instead of walking north to south, I'm walking south to north. I'm not sure why I change direction, but I do.

My eyes start to water as if I'm some sort of tree hugger in anguish. This towering specimen must be one hundred years old or more. It's leaning severely, its bark is dry and gray, and there's an oozing black substance in the hollow of its core. From the other side though the tree looks vibrant - green leaves growing, branches looking healthy, the ground showing no evidence of insects, fungus or cracked or raised soil. My guess is because of its root system, this tree is somehow still surviving. I put my hand inside the deep cavity and I see that the trunk is in worse shape than I thought. There's very little left around the core. This tree is living a dying life.

There's a bench near by so I sit and just stare at it. I hear birds fluttering around. I even see a nest of scattered twigs and string with baby blue eggs, nestled low among sprigs of new branches.

This tree is really trying. This tree is really holding on for dear life even while it's holding on to the life of the bird's nest. We don't know this tree's struggle unless we take a close examination of its core.

An aborist is needed; a tree expert or someone who knows what to do. The entire tree can break or split if there are cavities or cracks in its trunk. However, the presence of a cavity does not necessarily mean the tree needs to be removed. (I learned this when I had a tree guy come and examine one of my trees in Delaware years ago.) Removal depends on how extensive the cavity is, where the tree is growing and the overall state of the tree's health. A resistograph (an instrument that detects decay and cavities in trees) is valuable here because it can measure the depth of the hollow. Using those results, an arborist uses a mathematical formula to determine if there is enough trunk thickness to keep the tree upright.

Keep the tree upright? No matter if it's dying, leaning and suffering, keep the tree upright? Why does this bother me? Why am I emotional over any of this? It's just a tree, for heaven's sake. Yes, all this is flooding my mind.

Maybe it's because I know personally that the only way I remain upright, is that I have access to THE spiritual resistograph.

The psalmist David knows all about all this. He says, "God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going..." (Psalm 139:1-6 The Message)

David cries out for the hand of the spiritual resistograph, the God who knows him inside and out, to do His diagnosis. God shaped him first inside, then outside, and formed him inside his mother's womb. (vs. 13) God knows David. Inside and out. And God knows you, inside and out. "You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something." (vs. 14)

The day you and I turn our hollowed-out core and lean in and over to the one with the hollow in His hand, is the day we both become upright. No matter what.

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?" (Isaiah 40:12)

Who is He? This tree knows. He's the one with the spiritual resistograph.


You Speak Christianese or Christian-ease?

Many friends I grew up with back in the 70s weren’t “churched.” They weren’t privy to all the religious sounding talk that was so common in my world back then. Once I brought a friend to a Sunday service; she became confused when I addressed everyone as “Brother Smith” or “Sister Jones.” After the introductions, she pulled me aside and said, “Sue, I know it’s a small church, but are you related to everybody here?”

During the nostalgic days of flannelgraph Bible stories and chalkboard dust, we would play some great little games like “Bible Baseball” and “Sword Drill.” One little girl’s first encounter with Sunday School and hearing “Sword Drill” caused her to say out loud, “Oh no, my mom will never let me play with anything sharp. I cut off my hair with scissors last week and I’m still grounded.” (Just in case you’re un-churched or too young, “Sword Drill” was a Bible quick-response verse search game where— with Bibles in hand—we’d flip though pages and race to find the chapter and verse the teacher announced. The winner was the first one to stand and read it aloud).

A new young Christian raised on the streets asked his pastor if he could participate in the Communion service. The young man begged to say something prior to the elements being distributed to the congregation. Apprehensively, the pastor slowly handed the Communion cup to the young man. In his exuberance and joy over his new walk with Christ, the young man lifted the chalice and shouted, “You see this cup? This blood’s for you!” Then he raised both hands high, pointed to the ceiling and yelled, “You’re the M-A-N!”

When my Jewish friend Mike went to a concert at a Pentecostal church, it was his very first time to be present in an atmosphere of exuberant praise and worship. When the music started and people began raising their hands, Mike couldn’t figure out why so many people had questions about the concert that night. He asked us, “They just kept raising their hands, obviously having questions or comments about the music. Why didn’t anyone acknowledge them?”

Years ago, I would not have been as prepared as I am today for opportunities to speak at secular or “outside the church walls” events. To assume that everyone will understand or comprehend Christianese is a real mistake. Today I am challenged and held accountable to keep from getting caught up in the rhetoric of dated language and religious expression. If I say I am saved, for example, some will inquire, “Saved from what?”

Letting go of Christianese and sharing more with Christian–ease:
1. The proliferation of the spiritual attitude that “I’ve always said it this way” is a real guarantee you’ll be ineffective. It’s nothing more than a habit. Be willing to examine what and how you communicate about Christ.

2. Words like redeemed, saved, sanctified, and blessed are incredibly endearing and meaningful to you and me, but to the new un-churched generation, our words may be perceived much like the droning teacher on the Charlie Brown cartoon series: “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.” The key is to practice effective communication rather than assuming someone will understand. Speak words that will draw them in—connecting words that create a desire for more of God’s Word (which is the ultimate goal) rather than push them away.

3. Jesus, the Master of communication, told parables using secular examples from His own society and culture to convey more clearly to His listeners. Some heard it; some did not. Some “got it” and were radically changed. Others walked away. Jesus is the example we need to emulate in our communication with others.

“The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more” (Colossians 1:5,6, The Message).

(This post was originally released on Jan. 2011 at Sue-biquitous, receiving over 10,000 hits. Obviously, a very touchy subject..)

Random Mother's Day Sentiments

I took a shot at trying out something today... Every woman I come in contact with, while stopping at the North East Extension PA turnpike rest areas (for potty breaks!), I say, "Happy Mother's Day". It's been pretty funny to watch and hear the reactions. So far, here is my log of what's happened so far:

1. (me) "Happy Mother's Day"
(woman) "You talkin' to me? OH, I guess you are! (laughs) Well, thank you then; I'm kinda sick.."

2. (me) "Happy Mother's Day"
(woman) "Wow, that sure is nice. Thank you! My kids don't live around here, so thanks anyway!"

3. (me) "Happy Mother's Day"
(woman) "I don't have kids. (me) "That's OK. (woman) "But I do have ovaries, so I guess there's hope, right??" (me - laughing!) "Yes! There's always hope!" (woman) "I just have to find the right testicles." (yes she said that!)

4. (me) "Happy Mother's Day"
(man) "You're kidding, right?"
(I just wanted to see what a man would say!)

5. (me) "Happy Mother's Day"
(woman) "Thanks! But it's not til Sunday, right? But how nice of you? Are you a reporter or something?" (tee-hee!)

6. (me) "Happy Mother's Day"
(woman, with her adult child in a wheelchair, who can't speak or walk) "Thank you, it's the best. And my girl is the best!" (me) "Yes, she is. Can I hug her?" (woman) "Yes, but be careful, she might not let go!!" (me - I hug her, and it takes a few minutes for me to pry myself away.) "She's got a great momma. Thanks for being the best example yet of being a super mom." (woman) "Hey, we do what we gotta do.. love our kids no matter what."

7. (me) "Happy Mother's Day"
(woman, glaring at me like I just cursed at her) "Really?? What, are you selling something?"

So once again, I'm never disappointed when interviewing people. From all walks of life, these women (and man!) bring the surprise factor into full view. And most, I would say, show their true colors in less than a second. Happy Mother's Day weekend to all of you. I miss my mom so much. So much I do. But I'm so glad that my two kids give me hope that somewhere along the line, I did something right. And if you never had kids, whether by your choice or not, you are no less of a woman. In fact, in some arenas, you're a lot smarter than all of us are!

But the best part of celebrating a Mother's Day weekend, is remembering that we are women with great potential to change the world. Let's do this. Take a child, whether you're genetically attached or not, and pour love into them. Out of your pain or hardship or loss, wrap your arms around a child or teenager or an adult "baby", and lavish them with hope for their future.

As my mother used to say, "Mother's Day is a lot like Father's Day, except the presents are a LOT more expensive!" :)

Back To Fishin'?

I didn't make it to church yesterday. In fact, I barely made it out of bed these last few days. I'm sick with allergy-type symptoms that make me even sicker to type out. But I am relieved I thought ahead: I bought a Honey-Baked Ham, au gratin potatoes, and made a pound cake and sweet potato salad earlier in the week. I was, I guess, preparing that I wouldn't be any better by Easter Sunday, and I was correct. The few hours I had with my family around the table was great, but it wasn't too long that I just hit the couch and never moved until it was bed time (again). I did have a burst of energy to clean up the kitchen in the aftermath of the ham celebration, but that didn't last too long either. It was then I started to think, "What happens AFTER Easter?" (And I know that I shouldn't, but I pop a yellow Peep into my mouth, and shout "HE IS RISEN!", but it sounds more like "HEESH IS RISBSESN!")

How do we go from easter-egg hunting and Reeses Peanut Butter Egg-eatin to the everyday reality of the resurrection of Christ? And how does this affect the rest of our days after - with Him?

Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
John 21:2-3

Nothing strange about this, right? I mean, most people who have just celebrated Easter, get right back to doing the normal things they've always done, right? True. But what really startles me in this passage is THIS is what happened after the VERY FIRST EASTER, literally hours after the Resurrection, after the events of the first day of the week! The men who actually witnessed it all, decide to go back to business as usual. Ugh.

They decide to go fishing right after Mary comes running to them with the news that she just saw the risen Lord. It was also after Jesus came to them in their apartment. It was after Thomas was told to touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands, feet, and side. Sit on that for a minute...

I guess I could understand it if they hadn't known about the resurrection. But at this point, trust me -  they were well acquainted with the risen Lord. Why did they go back to the same old routine? Especially since fishing (and not being really good at it) is what they did before they had even met Jesus.

As I load the dirty dishes into the dishwasher I say to myself, "Where am I today? Am I stuck doing the same old stuff I've always done?" I mean, I'm thinking - these were men who actually witnessed the Divine; saw Him, touched Him, ate with Him, cried with Him, yet they go back to doing what they've always done. Is there ANY hope for me?

Something clicks. The disciples have another encounter with the risen Lord. This time He breaks into their everyday world and turns it upside down. They realize that they can't even go fishing without the help of the Lord. Jesus, now, the Risen Lord, says something that will forever change how we view life on the other side of the cross. He says to Peter, “Feed My sheep.” 

Everything changes. Peter knows there's no going back. He'll never be able to "fish" in the same way again.

So, while many will storm Wal-Mart today to get left-over half-priced Easter Candy, I ask you this question: Is it back to normal again, just doing what you've always done? Or are you so greatly affected by your Risen Lord, that you're ready and willing to "Feed His Sheep?" I hope so. And it isn't just feeding the sheep fish. (Do sheep even eat fish? LOL!) It's feeding His sheep the truth of His resurrection. This gives me hope... and that's not just on Easter Sunday.




Text And See, That The Lord Is Good!

I sent a text to Jeff today that said, "I'm at Planet Firmness...". Firmness. Yes, that's what auto-correct defaulted to. (I'm believing for this to be a prophetic word!) Of course, I laugh.

"Planet Fitness", which is what I wish to type, also has shown up on my phone (when I'm typing frivolously) as "Planter Bitterness", "Plant Fastener", "Plane Finesse", and "Plantar Fasciitis." Yes, all of these. Ironically, the recipients of these messages totally understand me and know the location, without question. And there's no doubt, they chuckle, as do I!

Sometimes I feel both TOO OLD AND TOO YOUNG for this technological journey I face every day. It kind of goes hand in hand with the ministry God puts before me. Staying both relevant to this generation as well as never loosening my grip from my retro foundational teaching, pretty much throws me into the perpetual motion of noise. Who do we listen to? Who is qualified? Me? And who are the voices of truth? Am I a voice of truth? (Much like me texting, "I'm at Planet Firmness...", I'm literally not "there", but you assume so because it looks pretty close to what I intended to type.)

Understanding Jeremiah, the prophet, and his calling is crucial to not just understanding the whole of the book of Jeremiah going forward, but our own personal calling and ministry for the kingdom of God. Jeremiah undertakes the battle for God’s Word at a time when almost no one wants to hear it, when those in authority don’t want to recognize it, and when the majority of so-called spiritual leaders are making money and fame counterfeiting and twisting it. Ugh.. (Sound familiar?) He is one of the handful of true prophets among thousands of false ones. In our present day, Jeremiah is the closest parallel to the things we currently face.

I especially love Jeremiah 1:5 (The Message) “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you.” 

There are four very distinct actions in this little verse:

  • If God is texting you today, He doesn't say, "I framed you". He says - “I formed you.” – We are equipped for His purpose.

  • God isn't texting, “I knock you”. He's saying, "I know you." – We are individually called for His purpose.


  • God didn't mis-text you by saying, “I confiscated you.” He says "I consecrated you." – We are separated from the world’s ways for His purpose.


  • And one more, God would never text, "I have appalled you." He very distinctly says, “I have appointed you” – We are specifically called for His purpose.
Wouldn't it be great to set your mind on God's auto-correct? You know, the days that come when you feel so unqualified or insignificant, that you can't speak (or text) with purpose or significance? God takes our feeble, filthy words and has made the auto-correction through the cross. The single greatest auto-correct happened when Satan was defeated and Jesus gave His life for us! 
Praise God for His handiwork which improves your life-text, correcting grammar, spelling, Word choice and style with unmatched Holy Spirit accuracy! 


Night Fever



A good night's sleep, without interruption, is a great treasure. At least it is for me. So while I was sound asleep (finally) the other night, I awoke to something biting my finger. In a drowsy stupor, I pushed this something off my skin. Then a few minutes later, an itchy streak grazed my elbow. I went back to sleep and didn't think about it. Until...

The next morning, my finger is red, swollen and burning. So is my elbow. It's on fire! What in the world? Maybe a spider? Ugh. Just the thought of that creeps me out. Even worse, a flea? Or two fleas?? Or a bed bug? Yikes. I don't know. I ingest some ®Benedryl and put some ®Neosporin on the area. But even in the light of the morning, there is no evidence of what did this to me other than the welts on my skin and an elevated temperature. Something was lurking, but I see nothing.

Whatever this crawling thing is, it positions itself in the night and knows exactly when I'm most vulnerable. My nerve endings are aware during the daylight hours, and they're much too quick and responsive to something inching on my outer covering. Come to think of it, I fried a mosquito once during a hot flash. I actually heard it go "zzzzzttttt" and drop to the ground when it tried to penetrate the skin on my arm! So, I KNOW when something is creeping on me.

But "in the night season" or during times when we're not paying attention, a little bite of something awful can make its way into our space. And the worst part is, it happens so quickly. We don't even know the outcome... until morning. Or until it's too late. 

The U.S. troops in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan are worried about some new evidence. It appears that the enemy makes every effort to steal night vision gear. Military troops say there's no greater advantage for defeating or cheating on the enemy - than being able to see in the dark. 

Any of you, like me, really need the "night vision" advantage when it comes to dealing with spiritual warfare over your kids, your teens, your aging parents, your job, your health - especially when the situation looks way too dark to handle? 

"But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going. I’ll be a personal guide to them,
directing them through unknown country. I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them—sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.” (Isaiah 42:16 The Message)

So it's pretty safe to say, you can hold the hand of the One who knows exactly the way you should go. Especially at night. And if you metaphorically fall asleep during difficult and dark times, I'd consider investing in some spiritual night vision goggles. Write on index cards the verses of scripture that will sharpen your skills. Be aware of the schemes and signals of the dark side. The enemy wants to steal your night vision defense mechanism. Because without it, you have no advantage. 

Later, as a secondary precaution, I lather on ®Off Bug Repellent. That along with hot flashes should combust and throw out a singeing signal to "back off!" :)




Does God Care?

Of course, God cares. I've known that for years. But until I totally understand that He most definitely cares about everything, I might as well just live like He cares about nothing. 

I dragged Jeff in and out of department stores the last few days, trying to find THE coat. A coat for me, that is. I know it's the end of the season, but it's a great way to find a deal too. My old one is leaking duck down everywhere! I so want a black, full length down coat with a hood. The last one I bought was at Sear's back in 2000. And I got that one for about $23. A great bargain. A great deal. And this time (again), I'm on a hunt. An intense shopping journey. A mission of finding this coat.

How many stores do you think I've been to in the last three days? Oh, let's just say, hmm, probably at least ten. Macy's, JCPenney, Burlington Coat Factory, Nordstrom,Marshall's, TJMaxx, Dick's Sporting Goods, Target, Walmart, Peebles, Goodwill and Macy's again. I bet I tried on a hundred coats. Of course all the size 0's are available. I need an XL. Large and XL sizes are the first to go, I'm told. An arsenal of mediums abound. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

"So, what exactly are you looking for, Sue?" I don't want a wool coat. (I start to get spiritual here) I want a l-o-n-g winter down coat. And I know I should have bought one earlier in the season, but who has the $$$ to buy a full length down coat at regular retail? Not me.

So, I'm on a desperate mission. Jeff laughs, but he also knows when I get this twinkle and determination in my eyes (he's seen it before!), that something miraculous is going to happen. And. It. Did.

During my last stop of the night last night, walking around Christiana Mall in DE, something inside of me said, "Go to Macy's again." In the past, I would ignore that little voice. But I don't ignore it anymore. I go upstairs to the marked down section of coats, where I was the very day before. A sweet woman stares at me behind the counter, after I ask, "Any full length down coats?"

I expected her to laugh out loud. I got the response I wasn't anticipating. I was prepared for her to say with a snarl, "Are you kidding? With these 70% off prices?? We have nothing left."

But instead she points to my left in slow motion. And then she nods. Then she says, "I think that's your coat." (How did she know?)

It was indeed. A black XL London Fog, full length down coat, with a hood. Regular price: $450, marked down 70% off, plus my 15% coupon. You do the math. Jehovah Jireh! :)

It's a trite kind of story. It's an example of little things. But it's also an amazing spirit-walk for me, to totally depend on God for everything. And every time I wear this coat, you better believe me - I'll be sharing how God takes care of everything, if you'll let him.

In the mean time, we're going through challenges with Jeff's dad and some issues of water leakage in his home. We've watched in the last two days, how God has imparted great wisdom to my husband. I love watching how he takes care of his dad and his brother. I love how, like an investigative reporter, he also took care of my mom after my dad died. I watch how he takes care of his clients and his musician buddies, devoting long hours (which he doesn't always get paid) for counsel and direction.

But here's the kicker: You don't always have to be paid. You don't always have to be given remuneration for services rendered. In fact, we watch how God "opens doors that no man can lock, and locks doors that no man can open" (Rev. 3: 7,8) when we give out of lack and rejoice when stuff hits the fan.

So, thank you God for allowing me to find a coat (cheaply!) that I love so much. Jeff was patient with me, but he probably is the reason why I found this coat in the first place! I'm not surprised at how you take care of all of us.

SO, it's time for you to make a list. Make that little list today. How has God taken care of you? And better yet, how can YOU take care of someone else today?

Right Turn, Clyde!

In Lansing, Michigan, the state Senate gave their final approval to legislation giving bicyclists another way to signal a right turn. Bicyclists can now signal a right turn by extending their right arm horizontally. They've been signaling a right turn with an L position by extending their LEFT arm upward, a signal in effect since shortly after World War II. Yes, for cycling purists, you already know this. But generally, the driving public has no clue. Some will wave back to you if you signal the old-school left hand/right turn signal. Come to think of it, (speaking of WW II), it does look rather heil-Hitler-ish!

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Anthony Forlini of Macomb County's Harrison Township, said the bill grew out of his own personal biking experience. He says most car drivers (today) are unfamiliar with bicyclists' left-hand right turn gesture.

Ya think? Hmmm... SO, the gal in the picture above... Is she joyful and praising God? Or is she totally out of style wanting to make a right turn?

Apparently, MY own personal worship experience of late is less the "right-hand, right arm, left-hand, left arm" praise gesture and more the "deep and wide" (emphasis on the wide) kind of motion, which makes it inevitably hazardous to the persons standing on either side of me. Holding my arms above my head, for sustainable minutes doesn't work for me now. But the wide straight-armed expression, while less flattering and more confusing to the seasoned worship standard, is more like the slo-down signal of aircraft marshalling that goes on between the ground personnel and the pilot.

I love this new slo-mo, wing-span adoration. My mains think I'm quite flex and cray cray. (HA!) I think I'm just expressing my total-ness and complete abandon to God. It also shows off my lovely flapper cellulite, but that's another story. But don't bother me when I'm in this form. Some think I'm just working on my arm-strength and conditioning. Possibly. But don't be asking me if I'm trying to make a right or left turn. it's my updated and revised communication signal giving God permission to take me in ANY direction He wants me to go! And I surely don't need any legislation to tell me otherwise.. Definitely the "right" turn. 

What are your best moves for God? And if you had a chance to really express yourself in worship, without any critique or ritualistic expectation, how freeing would that be? Give yourself permission to throw out all apprehension and take a "turn" at lifting your body, soul and spirit to the One who has set you free. 

Malachi 1:11

“I am honored all over the world. And there are people who know how to worship me all over the world, who honor me by bringing their best to me. They’re saying it everywhere: ‘God is greater, this God-of-the-Angel-Armies.’


Haiti December 2013

There will always be the question in my mind, "Did I experience every single second to its fullest? Did I take advantage of every hug and every kiss? Was I fully present during every waking moment?" I don't know the answer to any of that, because it felt like a dream. All I know is: I felt God's presence stronger in this impoverished place, more than any other place in the world. The children will teach you much. There were fun moments; hilarious moments. But there were also moments when you didn't think you could ever take another deep breath again. I am grateful for the privilege to share my life with the children of Jeremie. 

Stand-Up Jesus

We all know the physical benefits of laughter, but have we totally understood the spiritual health of the believer who laughs? Probably not.

After interviewing twenty young people online, both professing Christians and not, the following statements may surprise you. And if they do get to you in some way, I hope you'll do something to change what they think. I know I am. Ironically, I may offend some Christians along the way, purely because I wish to do as Jesus did - and stir up the pot! Jesus rarely struggled with unbelievers. His REAL problems began with those who were skilled in scriptures, the ones who lived by the law.

So, here you go! Here are answers from a recent group email I sent out to twenty-somethings and beyond. My question was..

"If you could change one thing about church and church people, what would that be?

  • I would make it more fun. Most times I leave church feeling bad about myself.
  • I love the music, but it's not nearly as upbeat and joyful as it can be.
  • My pastor has an issue with fun for some reason. I think he thinks it's a sin.
  • I don't go to church anymore because they try to be something they're not.
  • My dad laughs a lot at home, but when he gets to church, he gets all weird and everything. I think more young people would go to church if they didn't act all pious and stuff...
  • I wouldn't change one thing about my church. We laugh a lot, we cry a lot, we sing a lot, and my pastor is down to earth.
  • We could maybe pattern our churches after coffee shops; people go there to drink coffee, hang out and connect with each other. Much more relaxed and much more laughter is needed in church.
  • Church isn't a priority for me. Is that what you wanted to hear? Sorry if it's not. It's just too guilt-producing.
  • I would surely make the services more light-hearted and more interactive. My friends would never go to a church that wasn't like that. Neither would I.
  • Since most people my age have a weird slant on what church means, I think your question would be better if it asked, "If I could change one thing about ME, what would that be?" - And that would be, "To love and laugh more."
  • I'm not nearly as interested in being entertained as I am being engaged in worship. I am now 35 years old, and I wish I would have understood that earlier in my Christian walk.
  • I think laughing in church services is underestimated. Jesus laughed, I promise you. I wish churches would get a grip on that.

 Wow. So, there you go... Ask questions? Get answers. 

There's a million directions and explanations from the above statements. And we could all go into some sort of analytical reasons for many of them. But for now, I hope you see (like me), the value that laughter and humor has in the connection piece of keeping us all together. For now, that's what I see. And for now, that's what I plan to do. Laugh. In Jesus' name. :)


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