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....

You Have Permission

Those three simple words are FILLED with GREAT POWER! You have permission… to go after your dreams! to love! to start over! to quit! to rest! to make new friends! to put yourself out there! to let go! to cry! to laugh! to hurt! to heal! to be brave! to be weak! to be yourself! I have said everyone of these sentences at some point to people that DESPERATELY needed to hear that they “had permission.” So many people live their life waiting… waiting for what? People need reminded that time is short and they “have permission” to change, to regroup, to start over, to try something new. It takes courage to face reality and know that you need to make some changes… it also takes courage to follow through with the changes you know that you need to make!  God wants us to start being encouragers and permission grantors! I know in my own life when I have felt nudges from The Lord about things that seemed “out of the box” and that would require a huge leap of faith I was often met with discouragement. I need people to rally around me and say “GO FOR IT” but instead I have, at times, received some confusing looks, discouraging words, criticism, & skepticism. Don’t get me wrong sometimes as a friend we have to say to each other, “Hey, I think your missing it,” but ONLY when we REALLY feel strongly that if we don’t say something we will just die. Not just anytime we hear something that we deem a little “crazy”. Sometimes “missing it” is part...

The Big Wait

  Sisters…in the great casting call of life, all of us are waiting for something: a new thing, good news, a reward, a beginning or an end. And, in the wait, are we intent on becoming, or beholding? Sigh. It’s a heavy question. Before I met my husband, I was a lady in waiting. Then, I was a college graduate, in waiting, for a job. I waited for the job, landed it, and found out a few months later that I was pregnant. A new wait began…a momma-to-be in waiting. In the ups and downs and round and rounds, we wait. And, it’s often about what we’re becoming, isn’t it? Not that it’s a bad thing to anticipate change and growth and maturity and even righteousness. These things make waiting a little more bearable, because it keeps things exciting. But, we all know that the longer the wait, the less exciting it becomes. And THAT is the point of contention. Recently, our family made a big decision. And, at first, there was a great deal of confirmation and adrenaline with it. But the wait became long — longer than expected. Gradually, the big wait felt more like, um…the big weight. So, I did what any upright Christian lady would do (being sarcastic, of course): I got a little bothered by the long wait and got a bit wordy with my prayers and petitions. Do you do that? Suddenly, I had a lot of genius ideas about how to get the ball rollin’ and begged the Lord for signs and more confirmation. I acted out. So Jesus did what only...

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...

Return. Rest. Quiet. Confidence.

  “This is what Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you will have none of it’.” Isaiah 30:15 NLT (emphasis added) Return. Rest. Quiet. Confidence. These four words are many times extremely difficult for us to live out, especially when we are confronted with a struggle. But the honest truth is that all of us have struggles. Even though each person’s struggle may seem different on the outside, the core of each one is simple: there is something happening that we don’t like. And instead of resting in God’s authority and strength, we try to fix the situation in our limited human ability. But there are just some things that are out of our control. Yes, God wants us to use the mind and imagination He has gifted us to influence circumstances according to His will. However, He allows us to enter storms that we can’t change, fix or make disappear. And in these situations we must Return to God, Rest in His sovereignty, remain Quiet in His strength, and have Confidence in His will. It is a scary proposition this “letting go of control,” but it is so freeing. Knowing that there is absolutely nothing we can do to solve the problem forces us to make a choice. We can either allow worry to strangle our peace and joy or we can reach outside of ourselves for a supernatural peace and joy that is only found in God. During the prophetic ministry of Isaiah, God’s...