Stoop, young man, stoop

“For pride is spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love or contentment, or even common sense.” ~ C.S. Lewis Benjamin Franklin was a guest for dinner at the home of a friend one evening when his host offered to show him his library. Passing through a very narrow hallway, he yelled back at Franklin, “Stoop! Stoop!” Unfortunately, Benjamin Franklin didn’t understand what he meant and hit his head on a low beam. His gracious host didn’t let the opportunity go to waste and said, “Let this be a caution to you not always to hold your head so high. Stoop, young man, stoop – as you go through this world – and you’ll miss many hard thumps.” Years later, Franklin recounted that he never had forgotten that night, the bump on the head or the good counsel that went along with it. “This advice, thus beat into my head, has frequently been of use to me, and I often think of it when I see pride mortified and misfortunes brought upon people by carrying their heads too high.” One of our most famous forefathers learned a valuable lesson, from a very real and painful experience, about a pitfall that all of us come up against at some time or another in our life: Pride. There are all kinds of pride: we take pride in our appearance, we are proud to be citizens of our great country, our hearts swell with pride when our children excel — and those are just a few examples of “good pride.” Our official dictionary definition (can you have a blog post...

Break the Fast

I enjoyed ten wonderful days with family and friends: eating, visiting, laughing, seeing beauty, and having fun. Nothing wrong with that, except I also neglected prayer and reading and meditating on the Bible. My normal routine is to start every day reading His truth and mediating, talking to Him. My rationale was that it was just for a few days. I could get back to it when I got home. However, it wasn’t easy to go back to where I was. I felt disconnected from God, I was weak spiritually and I struggled for a couple of weeks. One morning as I was walking and praying, it occurred to me it was like I fasted from spiritual disciplines. What happens when one fasts from physical food? The body feels weaker. If a person does a ten-day fast from food, do they go back the next day and eat 3 full meals? No way. That person would have to start small, maybe even with broth. What about our muscles? If a part of the body is injured and has to be immobilized for a period of time, such as having an arm or leg in a cast, does that person go back to normal activity the next day? Not a chance. In fact, most will need the help of a physical therapist to get back to the strength they had before they put the cast on. So why do I think I can go without spiritual food for an extended time and then go right back to the state of mind and heart I was before? It doesn’t happen that...

Why it Matters that Jesus Wept

I stopped on the story of Jesus and Lazarus the other day. Stopped right at the part about Jesus weeping. He wept. Fully. Compassion poured from His eyes and ran into His hands, hands which would soon enough be torn up on a bloody cross. Maybe He bent over in grief, pressing those hands to His mouth, without words. See, the God of the universe did not simply blink extra and ignore the well of emotion coming to His holy eyes. Didn’t choke it back and cough gruffly. Didn’t mumble out something about how everything happens for a reason after all, and what a beautiful life this one lived at least. I couldn’t get over that scene of Heaven’s Glory grieving long and hard over His friend, Lazarus. Why? Because certainly Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. Certainly He knew that death would never keep this one: not this time. Certainly He knew it was within His perfect power and awesome sovereign ways to fix this situation. Yet, for the moment or maybe for many moments, He wept. He grieved. He entered into the loss with compassion. He stayed there silently and let His human heart break with the brokenness of sin and death, for which He alone had the capacity to redeem. Jesus wept – willing to feel what He knew He could fix. And that’s where I stopped because I’m not sure we know what to do with that. How often we’d rather fix something than feel anything. We’d rather give a hand than grieve. We’d rather move on than mourn. It feels better...

How to Embrace Seasons of Change

Change: we all go through it at some point in our lives and it happens whether we want it to or not. So what do we do when the winds of change start to blow and we simply don’t want things to change? Do we stomp our feet like little kids and cross our arms, forbidding change to happen? Do we jump on an imaginary surfboard and ride the waves of change like a free spirit? Do we go through the motions of change, doing what we gotta do, all the while wondering, “what just happened?” If you are anything like me, you’ve probably done all three at some point or another in your life. This year though, has been different. This year has been all about change in every single arena of my life. Okay, so not every single arena. I am still very much happily married, but pretty much everything else has changed and this has proven to be one of the most emotional, gut wrenching, spirit checking, soul searching seasons in my life. I’ve always pictured myself as an “adventurer” type of person. The one who leads change, blazes new paths, plows right ahead. It wasn’t until everything changed that I realized just how comfortable my life was and how much I liked it that way. Isn’t that usually the way it is in life? You think things are one way, then quickly realize you were off in your view of reality. This has absolutely been the case for me, and while I wrestle with all the change, I’m slowly starting to let the words from...

Living in the Tension

Tension:  The state of being stretched tight or mental or emotional strain. That definition sums up what I feel about my life most days; a constant state of being stretched beyond what I feel like is humanly possible. As a wife, I live in the tension of being the best spouse possible by meeting my husbands needs without losing myself in the process. As a mother, I live in the tension of loving these little people so fiercely that I want to protect them from harm at all costs and knowing that my job is to prepare them to live in this broken world, where they are almost guaranteed to feel pain. As a Christian, I live in the tension of walking out what I say I believe on a daily basis. As a friend, I live in the tension of finding time to nourish friendships with a schedule that is borderline chaotic. As a woman, I live in the tension of finding the time to tend to my body, soul, & spirit without feeling guilty. As a student of life, I live in the tension of questioning what and why I believe what I believe about God, people, relationships & myself, while being open (and teachable) to new information. I am constantly being stretched…but it is in the tension of the stretching that I find myself. I love being a wife. My husband is amazing. We spend a lot of time and energy taking care of each others needs spiritually, physically, and emotionally. This is our relationship today… In the past our relationship has been extremely unhealthy. We...

The Sparrow and the Swallow Life

Excitement was thick in the air as we bought his new school supplies, carefully packing them in the right shark backpack. The one with the whale shark on it – not the sharks that look like camouflage. It was all things kindergarten cute. Our blonde-haired, blue-eyed, first-born son was growing up faster than I liked. Some days I could still catch a glimpse of that chunky cheeked baby we prayed and tried so hard for. Three long years we waited for him. We had just moved a year before to a new city. Close to our previous home, but still completely new and it just felt far away. I didn’t know a thing about this school in our district everyone raved about. Some days the anxiety of sending him off to a new, unexplored, unfamiliar place stopped me in my tracks. I spent many nights and early mornings praying for his teacher. As the year began, God’s faithfulness to give us an amazing teacher was evident right away. She was truly a gift. This was His assignment on her life and she did it with excellence. She was so endearing and he really liked her. As we came to see, elementary schools aren’t immune to the craziness of this world. And great teachers aren’t exempt from students that see, hear and play witness to world of things they should never even know about. Those children inadvertently school other classmates on this thing called life at a pace no parent can predict or prepare for. This schooling of sorts caused anxiety to play out in my son’s life in ways that...

When trials seem pointless

  The story is told of an elderly lady who was in a bad accident but survived with a broken bone and a few bruises. Frustrated, worn out and weary of the handicap, she lamented to her friend who was visiting her, “I don’t understand why this had to happen. I don’t see any good coming from it at all!” The friend gently replied, “Romans 8:28 doesn’t say that we SEE all things working together for good, it says that we KNOW it.” If we only lived by what we could see — what we were sure of and understood on our own — there would be no need for faith! Faith is total surrender, total trust in God and His Word even when we don’t understand and when our situation seems hopeless. We have all experienced difficult situations in our lives that seemed to bring no glory whatsoever to God, caused nothing but heartache in our family and seemed to zap every bit of courage we had in us. But we cannot see the big picture; we don’t see what is going on behind the curtain. Only God does.“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” There are many ways a difficulty or trial can work together for good in the life of a child of God. It may be that it strengthens you, causes you to go to your knees, to depend on God, to look to Him for your answers instead of trying to be the hero. Perhaps it...

If I Stay Silent

I feel inadequate as a writer. Not for the mechanics of writing but as a voice speaking out. I look back on previous devotions and see I need to take my own advice! It’s frustrating. Part of me thinks I need to be more “spiritual” or “victorious” to share a message with others. But, I suspect readers relate more to my struggles than to my victories. No one has it all together and shouldn’t give the impression they do. However, this struggle doesn’t go away. Recently, I was doing my daily SOAP https://discoveronething.wordpress.com/whats-soap/ reading and this verse stood out. “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 Queen Esther had the opportunity to speak up for her people and possibly save them from destruction, but she was afraid. There was a good chance she would die if she approached the king without being summoned. Her uncle Mordecai gave her the advice in verse 14, telling her if she kept silent, God would bring deliverance from another place. The truth of that verse hit me. “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise…from another place.” I realized I can stay silent, but if I do, God will use someone else to share His message. I’m the one who misses out if I don’t share. God will find a messenger. He will accomplish His purposes on earth. For Him...

In God’s Country (Reflections from prayer ministry)

  The sun’s ubiquitous light greets the wooden floor planks of the antebellum house like a warm handshake from an old friend. Morning motorists scurry by on 37th street— their whirring brushes the sides of the comfortable yellow house. We gather in. With similar hearts— the knowledge that prayer works— we start the morning call for our school. Little do we expect the individual nourishment each of our souls is to receive during our prayerful session. Scripture readings from Genesis retell stories of God’s provision and prevenient grace toward his people. The story of Abraham’s tamarisk tree is the focus: So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there. After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time. (Genesis 21:31-34) (Genesis 21:31-34) The task of Abraham planting the tamarisk tree comes chapters before we recall how God later tests Abraham’s faith with the sacrifice of his son, Isaac. Before that difficult challenge, God had Abraham plant a tamarisk tree as a reminder of a covenant between two people. The Omniscient God knew what was to come for Abraham. His prevenient grace laid a path in Abraham’s mind where certain truths would wait for the appropriate time to be established: a time that only God knew for Abraham’s future. The planting of the tamarisk tree foreshadows what Abraham needed to know about God and his covenant toward Abraham...

be Still

In our society, we are always on the go. Our to-do lists are constantly running through our heads and chances are even as we skim over this we are thinking of all the other things we still have to do today. Oh my, sweet friends, it’s time for us to stop the running, the chasing, and the endless pursuit of what the world tells us that we should want– – money – status – stuff – more _______ (fill in the blank) …and stop long enough to simply be still. Just for a moment. Come on, try it. Just be still, take a deep breathe in then exhale slowly. Don’t text, tweet, instagram or update your status (ha, caught you!) — there’ll be time for that later. Right now though, let’s try to simply be still and see what God does. Listen, I’m not great at this either, I’m about as “Dory” as they come, but it is something I’ve been challenged on lately and wanted to share some of what I’m learning through it with you. Here’s what you can do to get started on learning to be still. Ask Him to join you in your be still and silent moment. Release all the distractions clamoring for your attention. Take a few deep breaths in and really start to slow yourself down a bit. Wait for Him to come sit beside you. I’ve found that it’s best to do before your days gets away from you, but here’s a little heads up as you get started. I can guarantee you that it will not be easy at first. Everything around you...