Cling Tight Dear One

When life seems to keep knocking you down and you start to wonder when will you see the sun again just remember to cling tight, dear one. This has been the four words that God keeps pressing on my heart these last few months. Oh how I wish that I could tell you that the Christian life was all sunshine and roses, but truth is that it’s not always easy. Yes, there are times when It’s full of sadness, disappointment, and hurt, but there are also times full of happiness, joy and love. Thank goodness for that, because can you image how hard it would be to even get out of bed each day if it was only the hard stuff? Here’s what I will tell you — I’ve grown more as a believer in the hard times than in the easy times. Sit there for a minute. It’s a hard truth, for sure, but it’s true. It’s when things are tough than we run (not even walk) to God. It’s not when things are going smoothly. So, what’s one supposed to do when you are buried deep in the middle of the hard times? Well, that’s where these four words come in handy…cling tight, dear one. These four words have been on my mind for months now. Every single time I cry out to God for help, relief or comfort I feel Him say to me, “cling tight, dear one”. Why those four words and why every single time I pray these days? I think I’m beginning to understand and it’s my hope that these four words will...

I am not God

But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASV) I am not God. This information is not breaking news, nor will it shock anyone. However, I am beginning to see the need to admit, “I am not God. Neither are you.” Logically, we know this to be true. Yet, we go about living as if we are in control of every moment of every day. In a broken world, where all seems lost, I believe I must stand up and take control. Someone has to, right? I do my best to control situations and circumstances, conversations and people. I stand on truth, and have become convinced it is my duty to ensure others believe that truth. When chaos abounds, I work diligently to restore peace. My name is not Jehovah Shalom. Jesus saves, not me. I do not know the number of stars in the sky. I cannot count the grains of sand near any ocean, or in my own backyard. The number of my days are unknown to me. In fact, I have no idea how many hairs lay on my own head. In reality, I know so little. I can do so little. Sarah, or Sarai as she is originally named, once believed she needed to take control. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham, then called Abram. God promises descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky. God promises Abram’s descendants will take possession of...

My Summer Prayer

Dear Lord, As You—and anyone who has ever talked to me for more than five minutes—know, summers are a struggle for me. I’m certain I sound like a terrible mom when I say that. And maybe I am a terrible mom. I don’t know. I’m just being real. I’m used to having some space to myself at home—a desk that I clear in the mornings and which remains clear unless I clutter it again. I’m used to being able to sit all day without turning on a TV so that I can work, to let my thoughts and ideas incubate in the silence. It’s not like I’m sitting on the couch eating bon-bons. But this quiet space is where I create. I’m used to juggling appointments and errands and the items on my to-do list with limited restrictions, which normally center on drop-off and pick-up times at school. But now there are bodies in my house. People talking, sitcoms on television, questions about what’s for lunch and can I go here and oh-no-I-forgot-I-need-to-be-there-in-five-minutes! My kids are older now: more self-sufficient, less demanding of my attention. So really, this summer is going to be different than those in the past. But this feeling of dread I associate with summer remains in me still. So, Lord, I am asking for Your help. With each drive to the school for basketball or soccer or conditioning or summer PE, let me not feel inconvenienced, but instead let me enjoy the time with my son while he’s still too young to drive himself. Let me marvel at his changes, enjoy his music, listen to...

It’s Not Up to You

It was my first real, paid, speaking engagement. A church halfway across the country had invited me, Jennifer Slattery, Midwestern mom of one, to be their keynote speaker. I was more than intimidated. I was terrified, to the point my stomach felt as if army ants, butterflies, and nasty spiders had declared war within me. Not wanting to reveal the extent of my ignorance and ineptitude, I spent hours crafting and rehearsing my speech and fine-tuning my Power Point. Then the day came. I’d spent so much time preparing and rehearsing I could give my speech backwards. In my sleep. I’d become so confident in my abilities, in fact… God needed to do some confidence-stripping. It started with a casual conversation between me and the educational minister. “What do you plan to talk about?” This struck me as odd, for I’d already sent him my outline. But perhaps he’d forgotten, so I shared my main points, certain he’d be pleased. Turns out, he had a different vision for the presentation entirely. This meant I needed to prepare a completely different speech, and quickly. Those warring critters returned with a vengeance, and cold sweat broke out on my face. On my entire body, actually, only it wasn’t cold. It was insanely hot as we were in Texas at the peak of summer. Except I had little time for a shower. Twenty minutes later, with new Power Point slides and graphics in place, stopwatch in hand, I prepared to spend the next two hours practicing until I’d cemented each word permanently in my brain. Once again, God had other plans. “Come...

The Lion, the Bear… And Your Circumstances

Standing at nearly ten-foot-tall, the man must have looked like an armored tank to young David. He wore a helmet of brass upon his head and a coat of scale armor of about 125 pounds of bronze. The bible describes the armor and war tools in details, giving us a vivid picture of Goliath’s fearsome stature and strength. David had come up from Bethlehem with the mere purpose of bringing food to his brothers, who were battling the Philistines in the valley of Elah. But as he arrived at the camp, he heard Goliath’s defiance and blasphemy against Israel’s God. And thus the battle became his. As David goes before Saul to ask permission to fight Goliath, his small stature surprises the king. He was but a boy, compared to the giant. Saul didn’t see how he could win. And then David tells him the story. “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:34-37 NASB) WOW. As I read this story for the umpteenth time this morning,...

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...

Don’t give them a second thought

Mesmerized. That’s how I describe my fascination with Joshua, the son of Nun. This man was encouraged time and time again by God to be courageous and without fear. “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9. “And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed…” Joshua 8:1. Armed with that kind of courage, Joshua gathered forces to help the people of Gibeon in Joshua 10. The Gibeonites had made a treaty with Israel, and because of that alliance, when the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon joined forces to attack Gibeon,  Gibeon sent word to Joshua for help. Joshua didn’t just send a token group of fighting men. He marched with his entire army to defeat the five kings. “The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” The Message version takes a little liberty here, but I like the possibilities. “God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.” Joshua was able to take them by surprise because the Lord brought confusion to the enemy. As they were running away from the Israelites the Bible says, “…the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.” But it’s the next part that is so unbelievable it had to be God. “On the day the Lord gave the...

Stepping Back From the Drama

Commercials present an idyllic view of the holidays, but for most of us, this is a fantasy.  We may wish we could attain it, even running ourselves ragged in our efforts to do so, but we never seem to hit the mark. When that happens, we are often left feeling defeated and saddened. Then there comes the dinner table with all those relatives we may or may not get along with: Crazy Aunt Bertha who’s convinced the world is going to end. Angry Uncle Wilbert who feels personally affronted when someone takes the last drumstick. Sassy Sally who rolls her eyes at every other statement, and of course, all the relational baggage that comes with living in a fallen, sin-cursed world–relational baggage that is magnified during the tense, stressful holiday season. Is it any wonder so many struggle with depression during November and December? And an even more important question–what can we do about? How can we make it through to January first without going completely insane and dragging our loved ones with us? Imagine hosting a dinner party for the most talked about personality of our day. Would that stress you out a little? Cause your stomach to convulse and sweat to build, quite glamorously, along your hairline and on your upper lip? Now imagine tossing sibling drama into the mix. I don’t know about you, but that’d about make me want to cry, and then I’d really have a mess on my hands–the mascara streaked tears kind. But what if I learned to step back and disengage? You may be familiar with the Mary and Martha story....

Beating the Pains of the Past

When I was in 3rd grade, I was so self-conscious.  I don't know what it was.  Maybe it just the weird stage between girl and woman. Maybe it was because my frizzy hair was too big to go unnoticed.  Maybe it was because my reading skills were lackluster. It's hard to pinpoint the exact reason. But, what I do know is that I sat at a very vulnerable place of life – a place where the prick of another's words had the power to wound deeply. Today, I can't remember the majority of the words that hit those dark places, but I do remember the feelings and my actions. I remember that I felt less than, not as good as everyone else, hurt by degrading words, unappreciated, left out because I wasn't as smart, scared to go to school, made fun of, punished and angry. I remember those things. I remember sitting on the side of the sidewalk alone while others jumped rope. I remember wandering around my yard wondering if God saw me.  I remember faking sickness to get attention.  I remember others laughing at my big nose. I remember lying to gain approval from my classmates. I remember the fear of another school day. Those things I remember. The thing about the past is – it lasts. Somehow as a child, we are under the delusion that when we grow up, we grow out of these feelings.  But, what happens is these things grow up with us – and then they grow inside of us. They grow bigger and bigger in our mind as we replay events, words and circumstances that hurt us....

The Struggle is Real (Psalm 103)

  I was sitting in church when I felt my chest cave in…then expand as if no weight had ever sat there. Let me back up for a minute. I struggle with anxiety/worry/fear/you-name-it. I let things bother me that really have no place bothering me—things that haven’t even happened yet and may not happen. I let them bother me to the point where those things are all I can think about and I end up missing the good—and God—in each day. So when I sat in church and heard this sermon, it was conviction and relief all rolled into one. I’ve read Psalm 103 numerous times. Recently, in fact, as I spent a few months reading through the book of Psalms. But never had I read this particular Psalm with such depth (no doubt an indication that I need to do something different in my time with God to dig deeper than I have been). King David wrote this Psalm…to himself. “Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1a, English Standard Version). See there? “O my soul.” He’s talking to himself. Reminding himself that he needs to bless the Lord—even if he doesn’t feel like it, even if he’s busy, or scared, or exhausted, or has a to-do list a mile long, or his kids won’t stop talking to him during summer vacation and all he wants is a quiet moment with a cup of coffee. This Psalm is his reminder of God’s benefits (verses 3-5), His character (verses 8, 10-13), and His eternal love (verses 17-19). Our pastor put it this way: we need to lead our souls....