When All You Want To Do Is Quit!

I am not a quitter. I was taught from an early age to stay faithful to my commitments, even when it is hard. But in the past couple of years I have wanted to quit the hard stuff, like ministry. In fact, in the spirit of transparency, in the past couple of weeks I had decided to do just that. Later this year, after the Come Away retreat (an intimate retreat for women who desire to come away and spend time with Jesus) was in the books, I would quietly step away from writing and speaking and mentoring in order to ‘just be.’ My heart craves ‘just being’ right now like you would not even believe.       November will mark 10 years that I have been in ministry. God gave me a clarion call in late 2007 to a speaking ministry that shared Jesus and His grace.  That ministry bloomed into a writing ministry that has allowed me to publish a few books. That ministry blossomed into a mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry that has been the most fun thing I have ever done. So, how did I arrive at this place of wanting to quit? I’ve pondered deeply whether it might be a result of God withdrawing my calling to ministry. I’ve even secretly hoped that was the root of it all, yet each time I have tried to settle into that, God has sent something or someone along my path to point me in a different direction. Like a Scripture:  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable ~ Romans 11:29 Well, okay, there is that! Months...

Using Accountability to Change Bad Habits

Two months ago I shared with you, our dear Café readers, the beginning of my journey toward speaking words of grace rather than negative words. If you did not catch that post, you really, really need to go HERE and read it because today’s post will not make sense without that post. So, head on over and read it and I’ll be waiting right here. This has not been an easy journey, because I have come to realize how often negative, critical, grumbling words fill my mouth. As a woman in ministry, I am embarrassed to have to tell you that I have failed in this area time and time again. This is basic Christianity 101, yet here I am in the Holy Spirit’s remedial class. BUT, I’m thankful that He is patient and loving with me, and that He is giving me opportunities to change. So, in the post I linked to above, I shared about how prayer and Scripture memorization were key to my journey. Today, I want to share with you how I utilized the process of accountability in my efforts. Remember my two friends who were the unfortunate recipients of my negative words at lunch that day? Well, the Holy Spirit instructed me to ask them if they would be willing to be my accountability partners in my journey. Here is the email that I sent to my precious friends. Good morning, The Holy Spirit has troubled my spirit deeply over my actions and words yesterday. I have asked for forgiveness from Him and you, and I know that I have received it. Yet, I feel there...

Gull or Goose? How Do You Treat Others?

Have you ever watched a sea gull? When in flight he powerfully lifts himself higher and higher with every flap of his wings until he is higher than any other gull. Then, he gracefully circles down to the earth. The gull seems to be all about performing and excelling. What happens, though, when Mr. Gull gets into a flock of gulls? It is not a pretty sight. There are territorial fights over food that cause feathers to fly everywhere. The word ‘share’ is not in the gull’s vocabulary. Philip Yancey said that “they are so fiercely competitive and jealous that if you tie a red ribbon around the leg of one gull, making him stand out, you sentence him to execution. The others in his flock will furiously attack him with claws and beaks, hammering through feathers and flesh to draw blood. They’ll continue until he lies flattened in a bloody heap.” By contrast, consider a flock of geese. You’ve seen them flying in a V-formation, honking all the way to wherever they are going. Scientists know that geese fly faster in that V-formation. The lead goose is the one doing all the work, flying against the wind. It is because of this that there is a regular swapping of positions among the geese in the V which allows the flock to fly long distances without stopping to rest. Everyone shares in the tough job. The geese with the easiest jobs are those in the back…the last one on each end of the V. It has been observed that the stronger geese allow the weaker and older of the...

The Day I Realized My Words Were Poison

To say I didn’t know it was coming would be a full-on lie. I did. The Holy Spirit had been at work for a while gently convicting me over my less-than loving use of my words to eviscerate another person. But I, like King David, thought I could just push it back and not deal with it. Lo, what is that I hear? God’s tsk-tsk from heaven at my stubbornness and flat-out disobedience.       I sat at lunch chatting with two ladies from my Tuesday morning Bible study. One of them asked about some changes that had taken place in an organization to which I had belonged for several years. I had been in the organization long enough, and had been close enough to the person in charge to know the cause for the changes. I was also very close to several people who had been hurt by the situation. My heart had been one of those that had been hurt. As I answered my friend’s question, I laid the blame squarely on one particular person. I told my friends some of the things this person had done, and how so many people had been hurt and left the organization. While I did not realize until later how deeply hurt and angry I was over the whole mess, my friends told me later that they recognized it immediately. We finished lunch and I got in my car to go home. Y’all I felt like a Mack Truck of conviction from the Holy Spirit had hit me head-on. The realization that I had sinned horribly by allowing my...

When Humor Is Not Funny

Recently, I attended a local community event and overheard a conversation that disturbed me greatly. A couple sitting near me were making fun of an obese gentleman who was part of the event, but was not close enough to hear their conversation. After a few moments, their conversation turned to a different topic, but I was left pondering what I had heard. Allow me to offer a disclaimer of which I am not proud: ten years ago I probably would have joined in the discussion and laughed right along with the couple. I can still remember my mother telling me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately, I did not learn that lesson very well. For many, many years, I used my tongue to make fun of others and talk about them behind their backs for a host of reasons. Unconsciously, I suppose I reasoned that as long as the person did not actually hear me doing it, I was safe. In truth, it never occurred to me that my actions were displeasing to God and a sad statement about my relationship with Jesus. My actions spoke like a megaphone to the world about the state of my character. I called myself a Christian, but I was a hypocrite. I looked nothing like Jesus when I made fun of others and talked about them behind their backs. My words were neither encouraging or helpful to anyone. In 2008 I was confronted with a quote from a flip calendar I received when I attended one of the awesome CLASS speaker training events. The quote, by Patsy...

Authentic Christianity: Stop the Fighting, Body of Christ!

DISCLAIMER: Electronic media makes it difficult to convey emotion. Please, please know that there is not one smidgen of anger contained in this post. As you read it, I hope you will hear my heart of love for the body of Christ. I believe this is an important conversation to have, and I invite you to enter in.   Would you pardon me while I climb atop my soapbox for a moment? Stop it with all the denominational fighting! Just stop!     I grew up in the Southern Baptist denomination, and I am grateful for (most of) that upbringing. I learned about missions and Jesus and amazing old hymns and the beauty of an organ and piano and the order of service and the Doxology and Girls in Action and Acteens and Summer Vacation Bible School and ‘raise your hand if you read your Sunday School lesson this week’. I also learned that women are not to be pastors and speaking in tongues is not actually an accepted thing and, dear Gussie, exclusivity. I think my Grandma might have had to be revived with St. Peter’s smelling salts when she stepped through the gates of heaven and discovered that there were Methodists, Church of God, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and many other people who affiliated with non-Southern Baptist denominations, or no denomination at all, right there in heaven. I am not here to bash the Southern Baptist denomination. I really am not. My ‘letter’ is housed at the Southern Baptist church where I grew up, and I love that church and pray for it. Southern Baptist just happens to be...

When Your Heart Has No Peace and Eggs Are Everywhere

Our Thanksgiving family vacation was over. Greg and I, along with his parents, were nearing the end of our 8-hour road trip back home to the North Georgia mountains. We had spent the week in Orange Beach, Alabama with Greg’s entire family. As we sped along the interstate about an hour and a half from home, I saw tail lights of cars up ahead. Traffic began to slow and whatever had happened was clogging up the interstate around a sharp curve in the road. Traffic moved at a snail’s pace, but move it did, which is a reason for praise in the mess that is Atlanta traffic. Thankfully, it was Saturday and not Friday, which meant a much lighter traffic volume on the highway. Greg’s Mom and I mused about what might have happened as we inched forward. We could see several police vehicles stopped in the left lanes, and policemen were directing traffic into a single right-hand lane. Three fast moving lanes of traffic, plus a lane that merged from a perpendicular road, suddenly bottle-necked into one lane that moved about as fast as a herd of turtles. Within a few minutes we approached the disaster that caused the traffic angst. A large truck loaded with eggs had gone into the sharp curve at a high rate of speed and, oops, did not emerge from the curve upright. A clean-up crew with a front-end loader was dumping the remains of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of eggs into a dumpster that sat on the side of the interstate. Scrambled eggs poured out of every crevice of the dumpster and ran...

What Will Your Tombstone Say?

One can find all kinds of epitaphs on the internet: some funny, some sad, some that definitely cannot be repeated. Have you ever considered what you might want engraved on your tombstone? It really is something to consider. I think there are probably some things that you do not want on your tombstone. Consider these actual tombstone engravings: “I told you I was sick.” “Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and no place to go.” “She died from a broken heart.” In a single day, I heard two separate preachers mention a man named Demas, a contemporary of the apostle Paul. When God repeats things to me, I try to pay attention because I assume He is trying to get my attention. So, I decided to check out Demas and see what he had to teach me. Turns out, it was something related to tombstone engravings. Our boy Demas is mentioned in Scripture three times, each time by Paul. The first two appearances of Demas are in Colossians and Philemon, both written around AD 62. In Colossians, Paul simply mentions Demas, along with Luke, as someone who greets the church at Colossae, while in Philemon, Demas is referred to as Paul’s fellow worker. At this point, it appears that Paul and Demas were buds. Then, two to three years later, around AD 65 when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, there had been a seismic shift in the relationship between these two men. We are not given specifics, but Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:10 speak with a large megaphone.   For Demas, in love with this present world, has...

Lessons From An InnKeeper

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are the primary characters in the grand story of Christmas. Without them, there would be no Christmas story. In a movie, play, or television series, there are the main actors and the supporting cast. Those who play supporting roles are not as widely recognized, but often are crucial to the story as a whole. As I talked to the Lord about what I should offer for the month of December, the Holy Spirit reminded me that He used many people to bring the story of Christmas to life. When I went to Luke chapter 2, I discovered that, indeed, there are 4 people or groups of people without whom the Christmas story might not have happened. Today, we turn our gaze to Luke 2:6 – 7 (NIV). Although an innkeeper is not mentioned specifically in this verse, the concept of an inn necessitates an innkeeper, so let’s see what we can discover about this supporting cast member in the Christmas story.   While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.   As I researched the inns of Jesus’ day, I discovered that often they were not exactly what we might think. The inns of that day could have consisted of a structure with rooms where travelers lodged for the night. However, it was just as likely that it was nothing more than an open, level field near a water source where...

Someone Needs You to Be Their People

Once upon a time, Greg and I had five animals…..two hunting dogs and three cats. Over time, all five of them died from an assortment of maladies. With each passing, our hearts were broken in pieces. When Greg’s last dog passed, he said, “No more animals. It is too hard to lose them.” That was in 2010. Fast forward to 2016. Our neighbors have 8 dogs. Yes, I said EIGHT. They are an adorable assortment of beagles and hounds. When we exercise, it is not unusual for a string of them to follow us home. After a few minutes at our house, they all head back to the neighbor’s place. About two months ago, all that changed. I walked home after exercising and several of them followed me. I came into the house and went about my morning. An hour or so later I look out the French doors onto our deck and see a face. A doggie face and a doggie body lounging in the sun on our deck. I thought to myself, “well, it will go home after a bit.” NOPE! A couple of days later I walk back to the neighbor’s house, which is a half mile away and Puppy walks with me. Greg came and picked me up so Puppy would not follow me back. Success! Got that taken care of!! I decided not to walk back toward my neighbor’s house again so the dogs would not follow me home. I did not want the neighbors to think we were stealing their dogs, for heaven’s sake. A week or two later I look out on the deck and...