A Good Plan

“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7 Lately I’ve found myself in a little bit of a funk about life. We’re in the throws of the fast lane of life with so much going on. My husband’s work schedule is crazy, the demands of a preschooler and toddler are demanding, areas where I serve and everything else that goes with life – it can be exhausting.  If I’m really honest, I’ve given myself over to the sin of self-pity and even bitterness at times. I get upset with my husband because of the demands of his job, the kids when they don’t respond or act as I want them to and on it goes. And then, if someone dares to ask how I am, I can lead myself down an even deeper trail of “woe is me, life is tough”. But as a follower of Christ, is this the right response? Sure it’s okay to admit the demands of life are hard and circumstances can stretch us paper thin, but is there a difference in my sufferings or hardships? How do I view the daily grind or the circumstances of life? Am I speaking of these God-ordained circumstances with honor? Isaiah tells us in his account of Jesus that He never spoke a word about His mistreatments or sufferings or injustices. He never stood up for Himself. He never demanded His rights or happiness. In fact, in Matthew...

The Power of Yes

The other morning, I was reading the story of Mary and Joseph from the Jesus Storybook Bible to my boys. Like many people, I’ve heard this story many times. But this day, one line from the story stayed with me throughout the day. “So Mary trusted God more than what her eyes could see. And she believed. ‘I am God’s servant,’ she said. ‘Whatever God says I will do.’” Mary was a young girl, engaged to be married, probably planning her wedding, and dreaming about her life. Suddenly an angel appears on the scene, declares a baby is coming and no doubt the record of life scratched. Has that ever happened to you? Confusing, life-altering news that you couldn’t have predicted just barges in. Or maybe it’s just a hard thing you know God is asking you to walk through. So what do we do with that? The account in Luke tells us Mary was afraid, but after talking to the angel and hearing the miracle of Elizabeth being pregnant too she said, “…yes, I see it now. I am the Lord’s maid ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.” Luke 1:38 Can you imagine a faith that responds like that? One that doesn’t see the end, doesn’t have answers to the who, what, when, where, and why – but forges ahead anyway saying, “Whatever God asks I will do.” So, what hard to understand circumstances are you walking through? What unbelievable news have you gotten? Or what hard thing is God asking of you? Maybe you lost a loved one and the holidays...

Falling Scales

The mind is an interesting, powerful thing, isn’t it? In a flash people, events, memories, choices can interrupt my thoughts, completely unprompted. Just barging in, reminding me of things I love and even things I don’t. Has this ever happened to you? You’re driving down the road and out of nowhere this thought or memory barges in and floods your mind with a million different emotions. This happened to me recently and it plunged me right into the realm of whys. This is not always the best place to go, but Jesus made this time different. In my stream of questions with Him, He brought to mind Psalm 56: 8 (The Message): “You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.” While this verse brought me comfort that He knew, He saw and He cared, my mind still lingered. Why those choices? Why that pain? Why that many tears? I thought about a fascinating study of the topography of tears that I had recently read. Basically, 100 tears were photographed under a microscope and the spectrum was amazing. Tears from grief look entirely different from tears of joy. Tears for liberation looked entirely different from tears of release. Tears of change, laughing until you cry, watering eyes, even tears from onions – all completely different. Then it hit me. In Acts 9 the scales fell from Paul’s eyes and he could see again. And, that sight made him a world-changer for the kingdom of God. While Paul had actual, physical scales on his...

Behold and Be Held

About a year ago I found myself in a bit of a standstill spiritually. Have you experienced these times? It was like something was keeping me from experiencing Jesus as I read the word. Something kept me from fully walking with Him. After a lot of prayer and time with Him, the Holy Spirit faithfully revealed some hard things. I hold Him at arms length. There isn’t that full willingness to let Him in, surrender and trust. A lack of heart-knowledge about His character really. Head-knowledge was there. Heart-knowledge, not so much. I knew this would not be an easy, quick fix. This was born out of circumstances dating back to my childhood up through my parents divorce as an adult. And, while I had seen Jesus in ways I never had before, He was calling me deeper still. To deeper love. A more surrendered trust. To ultimately see Him as my perfect Father. It was like starring at a map and knowing certain turns would be dark, certain roads would be bumpy, certain inclines would take my breath away. I wanted to know Him in this way, but it felt impossible.   “May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 I’m going to cut to the chase and be real intentional with our time here. 2 Thessalonians says He wants to take us by the hand and lead along the path of His love … aaaand Christ’s endurance. Christ’s endurance? Are you kidding me?? The same, perfect Man that endured a life of scorn, hate,...

The Wait

Wait. It has become something of a curse word for our society. Often times greeted with a huff or a sigh. As a whole, we don’t like waiting. In fact, I would venture that it can often pull out of us a big, strong emotion like hate. We don’t like waiting for anything. Checking out at the grocery store. Oil changes. Meals. Much less something like a job, healing, financial provision, that deal to finalize. Waiting just stinks. It’s countercultural. We live in a “do and make it happen” world. In case we weren’t fully clear on the meaning, Webster’s defines wait this way: :to stay in a place until an expected event happens, until someone arrives, until it is your turn to do something, etc. :to remain in a state in which you expect or hope that something will happen soon :to remain stationary in readiness or expectation Yes, yes and yes … right? Recently our church was challenged with listening to Psalm 23 every night for a period of time. It all started out fun until the words started piercing my heart. “The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.” I lack nothing? “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.” Makes? He doesn’t ask me to lie down? What if I don’t feel like I need to lie down? “He leads beside quite waters, He refreshes my soul.” I like the refreshing part, but quiet waters sounds … well, boring. Let’s dig deeper. “I lack nothing”: Here’s the real issue in my life. I look too far ahead and at times I don’t live out...

Jesus Is Life

It was December of 2011. Infertility again? Really? Ugh. Not part of the plan. We had just moved and I could not recover. Of course the thought crossed my mind that maybe I was pregnant, but like many struggling with infertility, the “maybe I’m pregnant” thoughts come all the time, like venom that poisons an already frail heart. So I bitterly pushed them out. After all, I’d already been on my meds for over six months with no luck. Eventually, we bought a test and it was positive. A meds-free pregnancy! Wow. Real, true shock. So happily ever after, right? Wrong. The most intense sickness settled in almost within days. This debilitating sickness lasted 26 long weeks. This was not part of the plan. August 2012, our precious baby arrived. I had the greatest delivery of all time – and quickest too. So quick, in fact, there was no family there. That’s when the record-of-life scratched. No cries. One pitiful squeak. The nurses nearly rubbed his gray skin off trying to get him worked up. Under the lamp, they worked even harder for a nice scream of irritation. All I could hear from the NICU team was, “this should be happening. It’s not.” My mind was racing and while I tried not to worry, it was too late. Worry had fully set in and in a flash he was wheeled out in an incubator with my husband running behind. Not part of the plan. Finally, after 7 hours I was allowed to see my little guy. This was the first time I remember seeing him and getting my first real...

Tower of Pain

It was a day that started like many others. Morning rush to get the boys to school, carpool line and a list of errands to be accomplished kidless. Post office was the first stop. I decided to take a short-cut through the quaint little city and ended up perfectly at the light just down from the post office. The sun was shining brightly and warm on my skin: a welcome change to the cool air of winter and a sign spring’s arrival was nearing. As I looked up just beyond the light and the intersection, there it stood. For most, this is just another new building in this historic little town, but for me it was like a tower of pain. This place, though beautiful in design and new throughout, resurfaced pain I hadn’t felt in a while. There were things revealed, things witnessed and a severing there within that courthouse. There was immense pain. Nearly a half-century of marriage brought to an end. I found myself saying, “Lord, why did it have to happen like that? Wasn’t there any other way?” Tenderly, He brought this verse to mind: “The Lord of host has sworn saying, ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.’” Isaiah 14:24 You see, Jesus, with His gentle, determined way, is opening my eyes and changing my thinking to see that the painful, ugly events in my life – even the ones so ugly and so painful I can barely stand to look upon them – yes, even those, are in fact beautiful....

Releasing The Grip

It was a typical Monday that ran as it usually did for our family. The evening was crisp and Fall was setting in. It’s my favorite time of year and a perfect night to watch my oldest son at soccer practice. A pretty non-eventful collision between he and a teammate and just like that – his arm was broken. At the ER the doctors confirm the break, but with a slight twist because it requires surgery and pins to repair it. As the details emerged of how the surgery will play out, we learn we will not be able to go back with him as he goes under anesthesia. You say your goodbyes in the pre-op room, while complete strangers wheel him away. This already felt hard and it wasn’t even time yet. God faithfully brought to mind Deuteronomy 31:8, “Do no be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” So a little over 24 hours later, we’re kneeling at the side of my son’s bed and my husband and I begin to pray over him. Right there in that prayer the Holy Spirit was saying, “Surrender Him to me. If you trust Me, then surrender him to Me.” During that prayer, though shaken and through tears, I prayed over my child complete surrender. And it terrified me. Webster’s explains surrender well: “to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc. because you know that you will not win or succeed; to give the control or use of something to someone else.” I...

Run To Be Shade

I love to run! I know, I’m one of those people. But, I really do love it. Not because it comes super easy, but because I’ve learned how. I started running when I joined my high school cross country team. In the beginning, I hated it. But, as I learned how and got stronger, I eventually began to love it. There’s absolutely nothing that compares to a runners high. So much about running translates into my walk with Jesus too. Anyone can run. And, anyone can run a hill. But, the ones who are steady on the uphills are the ones who pick up their feet, pump their arms and dig in on the way up. This is painful to admit, but my uphill season right now is choosing to love others. Real love. As in Jesus love. Not the fake, Sunday morning “look like we love each other” love. I’m talking about the kind of love that responds lovingly even when my son is throwing a massive fit. Or when someone doesn’t act or respond the way I want them to. Or my plans for life don’t play out the way I envisioned them. Or someone else’s poor choices start affecting my life. Meaning: acting and responding in love in the imperfect moments of life. Romans 12:9, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them” This verse stings. Because, if I’m really honest with myself, my struggle to love others is hindered by me. My needs, my wants, my rights. And this me-centeredness can’t reside in the life of a believer. So when life is hard and children throw...

A Shell of What it Used to Be

The other day I drove past an abandoned shopping center. You know the kind I’m talking about. They were beautifully built with intricate stone work, big glass windows and used to bustle with life and excitement. Now, thanks to the economic bust, many of these buildings are an empty, broken and desolate shell of what they used to be.   Do you ever feel like that: like you used to bustle with life and now you’re just broken down and empty? Maybe you’re too afraid to admit it, so I’ll do it for you. I feel just like that some days. I stay home with my two boys that are four and two years old and some days I’m just scrapping by. I wake up some mornings and think, “what has become of me?” Most days, my uniform consists of workout clothes that rarely get worked out in. I tie on my running shoes to run errands rather than the hills and trails of Atlanta to burn off steam and perhaps that extra dessert last night. I drive a minivan, for Pete’s sake. Make-up is an added bonus for the “getting dressed days.” I exchanged the fast-paced career life of a public relations executive in professional sports to be a stay-at-home-mom. Don’t misunderstand me. I love my children with every ounce of my being. I love being the one to love them, care for them and attend to their daily needs. But this phase of life is very, very hard. It’s an up at dawn, on-the-go, demanding, sacrificing job that never really ends. You don’t have to stay home...