Unapologetically

My daughter has a paint spinner. It pushes and flings colors in streaks and droplets. They puddle and spill over the edges, sometimes bleeding through the paper. The thrill of her work is that no two images will ever be the same. By design, neither will we. Here in Georgia, it’s springtime. The things of winter have fallen, becoming one with the Earth. They’re giving way to fresh, new life. Yet, I am dormant in a bed of thorns. The unmistakable pounding in my chest, tightness in my throat has returned. Anxiety. Depression. Every single one of us can feel anxious: melancholy. Yet, to have it as a condition doesn’t require being shaken or stirred to wake it up. It comes from behind, squeezing the life out of precious moments, while you are strangely still physically present. You fidget and laugh, adrenaline rushing to your bones. You wipe your sweaty palms on your jeans as you change positions, hoping to relieve the dizziness and plaguing feeling to throw up. You wait out the moment, only to sink into a series of depressing afterthoughts about what happened. You wish you could control it…get rid of it. But, you can’t. I certainly couldn’t. That’s why I decided to get help. I began taking medication. Friend, if you’re suffering from anxiety and depression, I’m not offering advice on what to do. My message is simple. If you are struggling, you’re not alone. And, it’s going to be okay. “But you, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the {lifter of my head}…[Psalm 3:3 AMP] When we are not of...

Faith That Can Rest And Move

I pride myself on being able to say the right things at the right time. Okay, I know how this sounds…and that’s why I’m clenching my teeth as I type it. For the record, I don’t see myself as wiser, more intelligent, or more sophisticated than anyone else. And I definitely do not have my nose in a crystal ball…if I’ve ever said anything relevant at all, only God could’ve imparted those words. In truth, this admission comes because of the old bones of doubt that have resurrected in my heart as I’ve longed and wished to say the right things to a dear friend of mine who lost her 4-year-old son. Our recent conversation stirs fresh in my mind. At one point I said, ‘I don’t understand God’s ways, but I know that He is good.’ Later that same day, the statement replayed in my mind, but in a question. “Do I really believe that God is good? Is He good when a child dies?” My throat burned with questioning. I felt like a liar. I was confused and altogether troubled at how difficult it was to answer with a resounding YES. How could I have told her something in confidence, when I was harboring doubt? So, I’m going to ask you the same thing…Do you believe that God is good…no matter what happens? If you are squirming as much as I am, do not lose heart. In John chapter 6, verses 60-71, the disciples wrestled with believing and accepting the words of life, spoken by Jesus. They were hard to swallow. “When many of his disciples heard...

Dead of Winter

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple [Isaiah 6:1 ESV] And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And, I (Isaiah) said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips….” [verse 4,5] for I have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” **One of the seraphim flew to Isaiah, having in his hand a burning coal that had been taken with tongs from the altar. ‘And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” [verse 6,7] **Isaiah is encouraged and reassured by the touch of the burning coal. He is at freedom to respond to God… And I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” [verse 8,9] For the past month, I have been in the temple with Isaiah…imagining this overwhelming account of seeing and hearing the LORD. I’ve found myself stung by Isaiah’s response…it seems almost involuntary. As I remember a particular moment of my childhood, I swell with thoughts and memories. You should know…as a young girl, I was painfully shy. I wasn’t the one who would raise her hand to give an answer, much less volunteer for anything. The thought was terrifying to me. But, one day, when my teacher asked a question,...

When the Wind Falls

It’s early & coffee is brewing & I’m looking out against the sky that came with January…clear and cold and gray. Gone is the morning sparkle of Christmas reflecting in stringed lights upon a tree. It’s all packed away now, and the new rhythm of a winter wind pushes the last of the leaves down, laying them skirted at the base of trees. Here, December was strangely balmy. Somewhere, in the exchange of a coastal month, winter remembered who it was…or so it seems. In a sense, I’m following suit. 2015 was riddled with highs and lows…for all of us, I’m sure. But, the over-arching tension I felt from wanting to know was the Goliath force working against me, and I often seemed to miss the mark, in slaying it. This morning, right now, the Lord is giving a saving word, penetrating the silence of a heart tossed and turned by a year in time. It is salvation that I have known from the start… ‘Loosen up, earth, and bloom salvation; sprout right living. I, GOD, generate all this. But doom to you who fight your Maker—you’re a pot at odds with the potter!’ [Isaiah 45 : 8-9, the message] These hands have been clumsy in praising Him, as I’ve wrestled with uncertainty…as I’ve attached myself to emotions, tossing me this way and that…when it was surely my expectations that should’ve been tossed! And, now, I’m admitting…my eyes are glazed with doubt, when they should be bright with wonder over all of the many ways His provision was (is!) present every single day. It’s salvation, this save from ruin...

By The Seed

Just before Thanksgiving, my 10-year-old son had a science test. The focus was on vascular and non-vascular plants. In short, the main difference between the two is that one has roots [vascular], and one does not [non-vascular.] For test purposes, he only needed to know the facts concerning the two, but ironically, I found myself reviewing it again, days after, when a friend prompted me to read Jeremiah 17. I don’t know about you, but when I spend time with Jesus, reading His Word, I tend to wonder about and consider the timing of it…probably too much sometimes, as I’m desperate to make sense of it 😉 . If you’re the same way, you’ll appreciate the connection between a vascular plant, with roots, and the idea of ‘living by the seed’ in Jeremiah. [In case you didn’t know, vascular is often described as a vessel that circulates]. [Jeremiah 17: verses 5-6 : The Message] …let us not place God aside as dead weight…being like tumbleweed on a prairie – out of touch with the good earth, living rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows. Andrew Murray explains that ‘no tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. Through all its existence, it can only live with the life that was [in the seed] that gave it full being.’ The questions that I’ve pondered are: am I hearing the good news, only to turn away and go my own way? Am I receiving the Word [the seed] with joy, but with a short root? Am I ‘choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this...

Free To Dream!

A dreamer…that she was. Always hushing the spirit within, the one beckoning her to run into wide-open spaces, unhindered and free. On road trips with her family, she’d gaze out the window to meadows & fields of green that seemed to stretch for miles. And, it’d be the same dream every time…she’d take off running, arms stretched wide. The motion itself a foreshadow of years later, when asked how much she loved her little boy & with tension in her arms, she open them and say, “thiiiiiiiiis much!” Yes…it was that type of dream, with deep intention and with motion and emotion. But, it never happened. This was me. Maybe it’s you, too. The book, Humility [Andrew Murray], offers this analogy… “…blessings of the higher Christian life were often like objects exposed in a shop window–one could see them clearly and yet could not reach them. If told to stretch out his hand and take, a man would answer, I cannot; there is a thick pane of plate-glass between them and me. And even so, Christians may see clearly the blessed promises of perfect peace and rest, of overflowing love and joy, of abiding communion and fruitfulness, and yet feel that there was something between hindering the true possession.” Friend, I’ve been gazing out the window for much of my life. All of the splendor and goodness, grace and beauty that I’ve seen, through the pane, appeared to be the greatest window of opportunity, yet it felt like an impossibility. And, why? Consider what the apostle Peter says in 2 Peter, chapter 1…[Amplified] [verse 2] – who (speaking of...

Throw Me On The Wheel!

‘…and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot.’ [Jeremiah 18:3,4 – The Message] Our home is new, and the basement floor beneath is covered in dust. Mostly, we can’t see it, until it’s tracked on the dark chestnut floors of the main foyer and kitchen. While it’s a chore to chase little dusted feet with a pan all of the time, I find that God speaks right into the sweepings of my day…when no one else would care to know what I’m doing. Today, a picture of a clay pot came to mind as I, again, emptied a pan of dust into the garbage can. I probably would’ve dismissed it, but the picture was strikingly similar to a clay pot on the cover of a book I’m reading. Coincidence? No. So, fetching the book, I looked at the cover, and said… ‘God, what are you saying?’ A conversation came to mind…one where a friend and I discussed being rigid before God, and how desperate we were to know Him fully. As the conversation re-played, I heard myself say to her…‘God is going to shape us roughly, as a Potter would, and all of the residue of our sin is going to fall like dust around us…and He will blow it away as ashes.’ Pause. God is the Potter. I am the Clay. God has a precise way of defining me…me,...

Fightin’ Words

It was dinnertime, when her name, incoming, appeared on my phone. She was a good friend, treasured, chosen for greatness, and adored by me. But, things had been off as of late, and I sensed that the delay in addressing this ‘whatever it was’ had yielded a stench of pride among us, most definitely in me. Quickly, I knew that this was ‘no afternoon athletic contest that I’d walk away from and forget in a couple of hours’ [ephesians 6:11 msg]. This was an offense…and, here I was, humorously, hunched over a pot of bubbling red stew, wooden spoon in hand, stirring. She spoke, and the splatter of red sauce on the back burner was akin to my heart, spewing of hurt, angst, pain, and ‘how could she say that?’ I was wrecked…and without an appetite. I blamed her…the words, behaviors…tones. These were the almost tangible things, easy to identify, cling to…to hold against her. For months, I managed to tread along…laboring there. I experienced joy on occasion, only to bleed out when memories triggered. When spring turned to summer, I, melancholy and drained, turned to Jesus. It came to mind that I spent very little time in prayer about the splattering pain of that moment, 8 months before. Hear me on this, as much as I wanted to have peace through the pain of those months, I deeply wanted justification, too. Driven by justice, I always blamed her. I couldn’t pray intentionally or sincerely. I couldn’t receive grace, nor give it. Emptied of peace & grace, I couldn’t love. My heart’s response was tangled…wrapped up in a moment,...

Revealed and Concealed

It was early on a Saturday, and the sun, burning through the morning mist, was slow to rise. Truth…there wasn’t much rise in me either. Sleepily, I rolled over, back towards the light, and fell into a heavy sigh. It’s been my experience that even seasons of unrest gain energy and peace in the light of a new day. That’s why mornings, to me, are special. Light brings so much promise, hope & joy that I find myself walking from window to window in our home, chasing it. But, this day, I didn’t even want to get up. Somewhere in the night, I had been robbed, ravished by something…or so it seemed. For days after this, I pushed through, as we often do. Every now and then, when thoughts would catch up to me, I’d remember what I felt & notice that it was still there, amidst all of the busyness. When Monday came & kids were sent to school, I sat down in the quiet with Jesus, and found myself in the pages of Luke, chapter 18, about the rich young ruler. This is a story that I knew well, but my eyes kept circling back to this particular part of verse 23… ‘When he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.’ [esv] What Jesus told the ruler (to sell all of his possessions) was just about the last thing he thought he’d hear; and it made him sad. My spirit was jarred at this! The thought came to mind, ‘the man pitied himself, and you do, too.’ I sat, and I thought, and...

The Look Back

I’ve recently taken to running. I know…it makes zero sense that I’d start in the middle of summer, but hey – it’s been a much needed respite, and although I’m not training for a marathon anytime soon (at least not physically), I’m surprised by how much I’m delighting in it, and so far, my body hasn’t rebelled too much either 😉 Early on, when I first began, I realized that you have to pull at something to keep you going…something deep. I found myself having new conversations with Jesus…and before long, although I was still in motion, I was finding a certain rest in the run. His presence was almost tangible there, and though I was still struggling along, sweating profusely, and laboring through the ups and downs, all of those discomforts felt distant, and Jesus was in front of them all. There’s one particular stretch that’s my least favorite. It’s a nasty incline & my lungs (oh, and my legs!) burn with every stride. About three quarters of the way up, there’s a crosswalk at the entrance to a section of our community. One night, I took a second to pause & glance back, looking for traffic before continuing. On the look back, I noticed the curves of the sidewalk, & how the pavement weaved in and out of shaded parts, and how it narrowed alongside the bridge & widened against a dark wooden fence. I remember thinking, ‘man…I’m so, so glad to be done with that part!’ Anyway, I turned, faced up, wiped the sweat from the top of my lip, and made my way up the...