"Bold Life" Blog

Claire at Gate 28 (Stranger Conversations - Devotion #1) 

This April fool's day, the computer glitch at the Denver Airport that cool September afternoon was no joke.   90 minute delays were anticipated.   My typical traveling companion was ready to fill the silence.  I leaned over and grabbed that favorite Canadian partner -  a blond natural elements Seagull acoustic guitar. Standing up,  I explored the space around my seating area, easily comfortable making eye contact with nearby passengers.  An elderly man with a gray haired woman sitting next to him appeared interested.  "You gonna play for us?"    

"As a matter of fact, I am."  After singing my own humorous rendition of 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' with the words adjusted to reflect our delay (and a silly line about airport singers) the bemused man smiled. "I like your lyric changes."    

"You wanted to sing along?  Sorry.  Any chance you are a Veteran, sir?"  I asked.   Turns out he had served in the United States Army for three years.   My handshake and words of gratitude were appreciated.   "You might know this one, then" and I crooned  'God Bless America'.   They both smiled as I loitered next to them for a while strumming randomly until my instrument went back in its case.   Taking a seat next to the woman,  I breathed a sigh.  She finally spoke.  "It's been quite a travel ordeal today."   

"Good material."  I said.  Her confused expression prompted me.  "I lead women's retreats for a job, and have one with a flight theme.   We discuss how delays and re-routes are possibly The Pilot trying to teach us something." 

"Could be" she replied.  "I have learned that I just need to be patient and go with the flow, since I can't do anything about it."  Something inside my spirit squirmed its way to my voice box.  "Well, I know the master Pilot loves you"  I blurted.  

"He loves you too," she responded.  Most conversations stop here at a resolve that sits on the surface, pleasant and somewhat unobtrusive.  But something inside me stirred my attention and whispered a prompting full of possibility.   "Do you know my Jesus?"  It was bold.  Maybe over the top, but... without hesitation, she stated  "I am not sure who He is.  I've actually been questioning His divinity.  I believe he was a great teacher, but I don't really know about the rest.  I attend a church and sing in the choir, but I - just don't know. " 

I waited - willing my mouth to stay shut and my ears to lean in hard.   She continued,  "My daughter wanted to have a long talk this week about it.  She has the same questions I do.  Neither of us have the answers."   

Prayer for gentleness echoed in my core.  "I believe the answers are in the Bible.  Do you read it?"  

"Not much these days" she admitted.   

The next instant,  we were interrupted  by the steward announcing it was time to board.  Her husband stood up quickly.  "How about I pray for you to find the answers?"  She nodded.   I asked her name and she told me.  I assured her I'd have a conversation with the One who knew.   Then they were gone.   

I acknowledged the blessing that perhaps came because of our delay.  One little link of a whole chain of moments, questions, and connections that Claire and I would experience as we make choices, take chances, and exchange words with strangers.     

Scripture reflection:  Mark 13:9-11 *How can we apply these verses to our own open doors?

Song reflection:  "LIving every season with courageous dedication.  Crazy thankful for the way that You've restored.   I've got a thousand reasons for a constant conversation, as I keep on running through those open doors."  from 'Bold' - W. Fluegge - Hear the song at https://wendysue.com/music

Consider: Has the Holy Spirit ever prompted you to respond in a certain way or with specific words? 

"Always Prepared" (article in 'Quarterly' magazine - winter 2015)  

When I was young, I'd sing into my curling iron pretending it was a microphone, dreaming of one day recording my songs and singing for a career.  I began creating music at age 12.  Correction.  GOD began creating music in me!  That was decades ago, and it has been a wonderful partnership since.  His Spirit plants ideas and fragments of melodies; I pray, walk while I sing, dabble on the piano;  He weaves and spins phrases in my mind and through my fingertips;  I work and re-work the notes and lyrics until a song is complete.  

We have created dozens of songs together. Some came from places of hope, joy and triumph. Others were born from struggle, pain or fear.  The music tells the story.  The music expresses feelings, faith, and invokes emotion in those who listen - at least I hope it does.  The music speaks in ways that words alone cannot.  Above all, the music is for Jesus' honor.  'For in Him I live and move and have my being'. (Acts 17:28) 

Besides being a daughter, wife, and mother, I am a writer, a recording artist, a worship leader, and a teacher who mentors future Christian musicians.  These are both my job and my passion.  I choose to serve primarily in the Church, and it has been a tremendous blessing.   Sharing original music, the great traditional hymns, and contemporary songs, while guest leading in worship services, concerts, weddings and even composing special pieces as gifts.  Seeing various parts of the U.S. in travel has been an added perk, and I'm still hoping to sing in all 50 states! 

Some of the most beautiful and memorable moments I believe God used me were bedsides of sick and dying friends.  No stage or lights or microphones - just my voice and our hearts joined together singing hymns and spiritual songs of the Lord's great love.  Scripture was read.  Prayers were lifted for His peace as the sweet melodies danced around the room.  Through joyful tears we talked of how the music in Heaven will be even sweeter. 

There have also been many spiritual conversations with strangers - using my guitar case as a segue - on planes, in airports, gas stations, restrooms and even a hot tub!   Occasionally, I've been privileged to impact a larger number of people at once in a public place.  Grateful for the freedoms here that allow such things.  

I strive to 'always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that I have' (I Peter 3:15)  Recognizing the Lord as the One who brings any favor or invitation that comes my way, I see each one as an opportunity to brag of His goodness.  Every day I remain thankful for these lips to encourage others to live their faith boldly, and I am most grateful for a tongue to sing my great Redeemer's praise!

**Published in Women's Quarterly magazine "Then Sings my Soul" Winter 2015 edition  

"When" - a song written January 2020 

Five years lost 

Abused so badly used  and  now he counts the cost 

Still he stays 

if she could only drop the bottle - things might change    

Day by day further he falls 

The pain goes o - on   It cuts so deep       

the dark within his heart grows worse 

He's not that str - ong  - in fact, he's weak   

Light eludes his sight the more she hurts 

When's enough of such bro ken  (pretend)  -   when? 

 

Three  years young 

Cancer came and drained her life - lullabies un-sung    

Mama's cold 

Asking why a God who's good would mercy withhold  

Day by further she falls 

The pain goes o - on   It cuts so deep       

the dark within her heart grows worse 

She's not that str -- ong   she feels so weak 

drying to the cries the more it hurts 

Will this aching ever end  - when?    

 

At for-ty eight 

I'm running to escape the chains of pain-filled yesterdays 

but seasons End  - one day soon He'll heal  the wounds

and make us whole again 

Love will hold us still until   then -   when it's finally  -  

when

 

*Words/Music by Wendysue Fluegge - For Ray - January 2020            

"Open Door at 37,000 Feet" ('Relevant Christian Magazine' July, 2016) 

At 37,00 feet, an open door could mean an emergency or an opportunity for glory!   For me on this particular February morning, it was the latter.  As I usually do, I boarded the Southwest plane  my guitar in hand, I received the standard smiles, the few typical concerned expressions (possibly inner hopes that my guitar would not find its way into their overhead bin),  and the usual off-handed questions,  "Do you play guitar?" or "You 'gonna play for us?"    

I've been asked that on every flight I've taken the last twenty years, and my response has always been the same: "I'd be happy to!"  No one ever took me up on it - until flight #2293. 

The Denver crew was on duty that day and happened to be music appreciators who thought it would be a nice treat for their passengers to have live tunes.  At this point, they hadn't even heard me sing and didn't know whether I could carry a tune in a bucket or play a lick of guitar.  Still they gave me the microphone as we were flying over Kansas 37,000 feet up.                                                                                       

I was nervous.  This audience was captive - literally.  But God opened this door,  and I was going to "sing" through it!   "God Bless America" was my first choice - a Christian tribute to our military.  After a nice applause, they allowed me another, and  I chose the familiar hymn "How Great Thou Art",  acknowledging and praising the One who created the very skies we were flying through.  Tyler, the kind steward, thanked me and announced my website to the cabin.  Promo!  On the walk back to my seat, folks complimented, thanked me for singing, asked what I do, took a business card and looked up my website.  Seriously - there were message postings and comments on social media before we even landed in Phoenix!  The stewardess who recorded on her phone posted the video on her personal FB page.  Of the two songs I sang, she got the hymn - just a little more glory for the Lord.  

The video did not go viral.  It did, however, serve a purpose intended for it.  The melodies sung boldly to a cabin of strangers moved hearts and bolstered the faith and courage of many who heard and shared it.  

Funny thing - the woman I sat next to on my return flight four days later had also been on flight #2293.  She was interested in hearing more about being bold for Jesus in her marriage to an unbeliever, desiring to raise her two boys in faith.  We filled most of that three hour trip home with spiritual conversation. 

The Apostle Paul says in I Peter 3:15 "always be prepared to give an answer for the reason for the hope that you have."  I'm staying prepared, and I'll be continually vocal, ready to speak and sing for His praise through every open door.   Bring it on!    

**Published in the Relevant Christian Magazine - July 31, 2016      

"Grandma's Building Blocks" Devotion - August 1, 2020  

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."  Prov 3:5-6 

Sometimes the verse was embossed, sometimes scrawled in her swirly penmanship, and other times simply referenced after her signature.  Love, Grandma - Proverbs 3:5-6.  Regardless of how, it was in every birthday card during my childhood years.  Not just in MINE, but in those of my siblings as well.  Did our Grandma know any other scriptures?  Did she think this was my favorite?  Certainly it must be hers. Could it possibly be the only verse in her bible?     

Through the years, it bore the brunt of a joke or two as we opened her mail, knowing full well it would be staring at us from somewhere on the cardstock.  Rarely was it accompanied by a present, nor was it attached to the often warm relationships of grandparents to their grandchildren.  These two lived in the sunshine state 20+ hours away and communication between them and my parents was stained by a history of hurts.  Proverbs 3:5-6 was admittedly assigned some 'resentment by association' during those early years.  

Adolescence came with its standard insecurities. However, the small parochial school I attended seemed to bring more than my share of rejection.  Confusion and hurt drove me to test authority, challenge my parents, and break any boundaries my young mind didn't like or comprehend...lean not on your own understanding.        

High school piled on dating disappointments as I pursued guys who didn't follow Jesus.  Regret and shame were consequences of chasing after my own desires...in all your ways, acknowledge Him

College brought anxiety, fear, and struggle over future life decisions.  God word whispered to my soul...Trust in the Lord with all your heart.   

Grandma continued her contact and offered to host me the summer before my senior year.  I saw the chance for this cold Wisconsin girl to tan on the Florida coast.  She and Grandpa saw the chance to fill me with scripture, devotion, and prayer.  We survived 10 weeks of messy roller coaster days.  They laid one small block after another onto the foundation of my faith through their loud but authentic care for my spirit - and their boisterous hymn singing!  I became wiser, grew in character, and softened in our relationship.    

It seems that many small stones carefully placed over time can build a monument. Somewhere along the journey, those beautiful Proverbs carved their way into my memory.  Over and over again, God's wisdom guided my heart.  Jesus drew me to seek Him more deeply, and the Holy Spirit strengthened me through Christian community, word, and the sacraments.  I had been trained up in the knowledge of my Savior through the mentors who spoke into my life and led by their example.  What a blessing to receive the gift of forgiveness thru the cross of Christ,  recognize my restoration to The Creator, and anticipate a certain future secured by the empty tomb!                    

Grandpa went on to future paradise and I'm certain is enjoying the music of Heaven. Grandma is still here, walking healthy and strong with her Lord at 95!  I never did tell her how I used to feel about Proverbs 3:5-6. 

It seems a little childish to me now, though, perhaps that's the beauty of it. 

Song Reflection:  I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,  Trusting only Thee.   Trusting Thee for full salvation,  Great and free.   

I am trusting Thee to guide me; Thou alone shall lead.   Every day and hour supplying all my need.   Lutheran Service Book  #729 

Prayer:  Gracious God, I praise you for Your faithful Word - alive, active and applicable to me in every season.  Thank You for the wisdom of those You've placed in my life to bless and grow me up.  Continue to hide Your truths in my memory and cover over me so I will not depart from Your ways.  In Your name I pray, Amen. 

 

"To Be Loved" a poem from June 1, 2020 

My eyes locked with hers. 

Deep in the pool of emotion, I imagined I heard her heart cry 

"I just want to be loved" 

Saw his anger burst 

heightened by the weight of my ugly words    

If I could simply have remembered that he 

just wants to be loved. 

In the core of my being it settles. 

A constant ache to be accepted - to be heard - 

To know with certainty that 

my existence - my life - matters. 

Woven into the fabric of this frame 

and every fiber within it 

is the search for purpose. 

A burning desire to add my unique contributions to the world 

and for someone to accept and value them  - 

to value me. 

I suppose it's just another way to say 

I just want to be loved. 

At the end of the day 

who is willing to stay 

no matter what I've done 

             who I've been 

how I've failed to be the me I'm proud of... 

who is willing to love

 

**Shared on my virtual women's retreat "Lavish Love" summer 2020

"Sharpening Moments" (Women's Leadership Institute - 2020) 

SHARPENING  MOMENTS -   

Every day is filled with them.   Opportunities to encourage and challenge someone or to be encouraged and challenged by someone else.  Sometimes both happen at the same time.  Kind of a mutual sharpening.  Those are my favorite kind.  Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” 

There I stood at my resource table on "Friendship Sunday".  I was the musical guest at a neighboring church, and had just led fairly rousing congregation hymns, energetic kids choruses, and a sweet rendition of "Jesus Loves Me" all centered on the theme of 'sharing our faith'.   The gentlemen approached  me with a smile and kind compliments to my voice.   We began a friendly conversation.  He attended church here every week,  sang in the choir, and worked downtown at a stressful job.  His biggest obstacle was having a good attitude towards his co-workers.   When I asked if his job challenges might be a way to share his faith, he quickly dismissed the thought  replying, "Oh, I don't really talk about my faith."  I verbally wondered why.  Mark's reason:  He was shy and expected his actions would speak enough for others to see his faith.     

Ok.  Yes, actions are good.  They can speak louder than words and people take notice. Yet, words are pretty important and in many cases, they're powerful - even essential.   The spoken word last years in our memories, and echo long in our minds.  Often, words are more meaningful than actions.  Finally,  words are scriptural, and a means that God wants us to use.  King David wrote in Psalms 145:3-7: "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.  One generation commends Your works to another; They tell of Your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty— and I will meditate on Your wonderful works.  They tell of the power of Your awesome works and I will proclaim Your great deeds.  They celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness."    How could we tell, speak of, proclaim and sing without words?  One of my favorites - kind of a life focus - is I Peter 3:15  "But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for the reason for the hope you have;  But do this with gentleness and respect."   How often do we examine our reasons for NOT speaking when an opportunity is before us.  If we dig deep and look honestly, might we discover  fear at the heart of our silence?    

I mused to Mark that he had just been having a pretty good conversation with a virtual stranger for the past 10 minutes.  I followed up with some encouragement, ending with an action for him:  "Try mentioning something spiritual to someone at work this week.  Maybe a small comment like:  "I will pray for you;  God bless you;  or Jesus is with you" to shine just a little more obviously - and see what happens?"   

He was about to respond when a woman nearby suddenly entered the conversation by inserting "Mark is a great guy!" He replied, "Thanks, Irene." then turned to me "I sing in the choir with Irene."  Ooooh,  I see a sharpening opportunity!   I let Irene in on the 'action challenge',  suggesting she try the same thing this week, then follow up with Mark about how it went at their next choir practice.  They both smiled at their shared secret, and we circled up for prayer.  It was a sweet moment indeed, emulating a tasty little verse in Proverbs 27  "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."     

Isn't it a blessing to have the incredible resource of relationship within our church families!  There, God brings us together with others who walk alongside us as we live out our faith daily.  There, the Holy Spirit empowers us through His word and sacrament to be bold and courageous, stepping past our fears. There, we are spiritually fed, able to express worship and praise, and find a safe - and hopefully - receptive place to celebrate the Lord's faithfulness and spur each other on.  Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the Day approaching."    

Moments are waiting.  Get your words ready! 

Published / posted on-line through WLI on June 11, 2020

"Just Enough Daily Bread" Devotion - September 29  

JUST ENOUGH DAILY BREAD’ 

"Two things I ask of you, O Lord... keep falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you, or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."  Proverbs 30:7-9 

Maybe you’re like me.  I memorized the Lord’s prayer as a young child and have said it far too many times to count, often without thinking much about what I’m actually saying.  ‘Daily bread’ meant food and clothes - or  Lord, keep me from starvation and wardrobe failure.  I've since learned otherwise.  

Have you ever heard of Agur?  He is the author of these verses from Proverbs 30 yet not mentioned anywhere else in the scriptures.  Agur's request, however, is quite profound, and sheds great illumination on the ‘daily bread’ concept.  To re-phrase his words, Agur is saying 'God, help me live in truth and make me content every day with no more and no less than just enough.'    

Occasionally I ask God to reveal His truth and keep me in it. *200 It hasn’t occurred to me to ask Him for ‘just enough’ daily needs for each day.  After all, isn’t it better to be prepared with a little extra - just in case?  Recognizing His provision is a blessing.  

Releasing something He withholds is a challenge.   

But requesting He limit my sustenance each day?  That takes a whole new level of trust!   Imagine exclaiming when my belly is full, my bank account is overflowing, my health is in tip top shape: “Now hold on here, God.  This is too much!  Please won’t you take back such and such so I don't become desperate or proud?" I’ve gotta be honest and admit my thoughts haven’t spent much time in that place.     

Agur’s writing inspires me.  He understand his limitations.  He knew his tendencies towards pride and greed.  In the process of praying for contentment in today, he was also praying for coverage for tomorrow.  He aimed to prevent what might happen in the midst of temptation.  I want to do the same. The Apostle Paul discussed these concepts in Philippians 4:12-13, which says  “I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  *400 I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (NIV) What a sweet reminder that Paul, Agur, you and me aren’t able to pray in our own strength.  All power, wisdom and gratitude are rooted in and spring up from our Lord, the God who took care of my greatest need - that of salvation! 

Agur’s beautiful proverb has taught me to pray the Lord’s prayer differently.  Now when I reach my ‘daily bread’, I consider amount and attitude.  My Father knows exactly what I need, exactly what He will provide each moment, and exactly what I will do with what He gives me.  I fall before my Jesus in repentance.  I ask for the Holy Spirit's constant presence.  I remember to lead my heart to contentment with just enough daily bread. 

Song Reflection:  We give thee but thine own,  whate'er the gift may be; 
all that we have is thine alone, a trust, O Lord,  from thee.  LSB #781 

Prayer:  Dearest Father God, thank You for Your word that guides us into all truth.  I can be impatient, prideful or downright spoiled about the things I want or what I think I need.  Forgive me, Lord.  Help me trust You to provide just enough, and make me content in all circumstances.  Show me how to honor You with all I have been given.  In Your beautiful name, Amen.  

"It's Time" spoken word - (for Writer's Conference @ Maranatha - 2016)  

**  Written for the "It's Time" conference in 2016 

It's time 

It's time I found my voice - 

unique all me 

to speak freely 

for God gave me the choice 

to be my vocal self 

or store my words upon the shelf of silence 

It's time 

It's time I move ahead 

with heart with tongue 

spoken or sung 

some thoughts need to be said 

things that define the soul 

that soothe the broken in us whole 

I've got to take the chance 

to partner with Divine and pure rhythms, notes and rhyme 

so song or script or art is mine AND His - 

perfection shaping beauty from this mess - 

such loveliness - how we express.   

He made us to shine so I refuse to miss  this  time.