Why I Stopped Dating Jesus

I was in my early twenties. I would hear about those Bible thumpers that went to church every Sunday and it somewhat intrigued me but I also knew I was not one of them. First of all, I was not going to give up my cigarettes. Secondly, I was not going to stop cussing. And thirdly, when I would visit my dad’s Baptist church, it scared me. Dad would always lean over and say to me: “If you want to go the altar, I’ll go with you.” (He had this obsession with the altar like it was the only place you could meet Jesus.) I would shake my head no and pray that the preacher man was not standing at the door shaking hands after the service. And if he was, please God, let me him not see me. God never answered my prayer. Preacher man was always standing there with his smile and outstretched hand, and I would shake it, hoping to God he couldn’t read my mind, knowing the last sins I just committed. I remember walking outside the doors feeling free, like I could breathe again. That conviction stuff and dealing with your sin was heavy. I liked my relationship with God just the way it was. I liked Him, He liked me. We’d hang out once in a while, chat here and there, I’d ask for forgiveness on Easter and Christmas. Everything seemed to be working out just fine. Until everything was not fine. September eleventh happened. I was a young mother, married only a couple of years, struggling with depression, anxiety, and was having...

Do Your Words Promote Life?

The story of Abigail is found on 1 Samuel 25   Her husband honored his name once again by disrespecting a great man of war – worse yet, the anointed future king of Israel! Nabal, “the fool”, a rich business man, had denied hospitality to David and his men, even though David had blessed his household and offered peace. His folly angered the future king, who prepared his men for war. And then there was Abigail – wisdom and discernment personified. No, seriously. Abigail was the full package: beautiful, resourceful, an innate leader, and wise, very wise. A Proverbs 31 woman on all accounts. She must have been a great manager of her state and a fair employer, since her servants were faithful to warn her of the upcoming doom. Her discernment was better than any weapon of war. Her timing was perfect. Her words, controlled and full of wisdom, atoned for Nabal’s offense. The Bible does not say much about her spirituality, but her words show that she reverenced the God of Israel and followed His leading. At a time when people often act and speak out of anger and impulsiveness, Abigail’s story reminds me of the importance of measuring our circumstances with care, and pausing to seek God’s guidance before acting… or speaking. We all know the consequences of impulsive acts, and are able to quickly assess the damage that actions without restrain cause in a person’s life. As a matter of fact, we often find ourselves putting on the black robe of judgement when people around us make bad decisions that render damaging consequences. But today my heart is particularly burdened by...

Got Hupomone?

As we find ourselves in the MIDDLE of a week, we can pause and ask a few questions. Has it been exhausting? Has it been fulfilling? Yeah, well, the reality is that life is sometimes just hard and the weeks can be rough. And it doesn’t have to be monumental to be rough. It’s the little things, right? What we need is HUPOMONE to get us through life. A little Greek word, tucked into Scripture. We need it. We just do. Because it’s rough out there and we’re ALL in this...

why you should just be you & I should be me (because who are we kidding anyway?)

I grabbed a shopping basket and headed to the produce. Note: I grabbed a basket. I have no idea why, other than I had a brief lapse of identity – which led to this post. I’m a mom of 5. I haven’t used a grocery basket since college. In fact, once upon a time, I had two 2 year-olds and a new baby, and I finagled two carts – pushing/pulling with one cart for the baby in the car seat and another for actual groceries, with one two year-old in the front of each cart. Those grocery trips inevitably ended in tears and meltdowns. My tears and meltdowns, that is. So anyway, there I was, with a cute little grocery basket on my arm. And, I was wearing a white coat, a lovely, tailored-looking thing with big buttons. I should mention it is a hand-me-down, as I’d never spend money on a red juice stain waiting to happen. And, suddenly, I feel quite put together and professional – and, well, not like a mom of 5. But. Then, I saw the kids’ favorite snacks on sale for 3 for $5.00. I just couldn’t help myself, shoving them all in the basket. Then, my heart warmed at the popcorn, after all, it was a cold day and we could have a family movie night. (Always more ideal and smiley in my mind’s eye.) And then, well, Maggie just loves bagels in the morning, which called for cream cheese as well. And, Samuel, yeah, he’s had  rough spell and strawberries always make his day. Not to mention, I’d need to feed the tribe...

Encouragement to Continue

Are you facing a challenge that has left you with countless questions? I’ve been there. Several years ago, my husband Steve’s, position at work was eliminated. If you’ve ever lost a job, you’ve experienced the stress of financial pressures and lack of medical insurance. It’s no picnic. It was nine months before my husband found a suitable job. During that time, the pastor of our church died. And not many months later, my dad passed away. Doubts & questions The doubts and questions were relentless. Why was it taking so long for Steve to find a job in his field? What would happen to our church without a pastor? How could I deal with the death of my dad on top of everything else? In His grace, God gave me hope and encouragement to continue. God’s Word is filled with countless examples of people who chose to trust Him during really tough circumstances. Ruth’s story Ruth is one of my heroes. She went through some hard times, suffering the death of both her father-in-law and husband. The choice she made when faced with a life-changing decision is inspiring. Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, had lived in Moab for ten years and her husband and two sons had died. Now she was heading back to her home town. Naomi advised her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to go back to their people. Orpah found it hard to leave, but took Naomi’s advice. Ruth was different. She saw something in Naomi that caused her to leave all she had ever known – family, friends, her home town, and culture – and trust God...

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...

God Moves Mountains that You Don’t Even See

The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:7-8 It happened almost 14 years ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. She was 13 months old and finally ready to take her first steps. I was on the couch, reading, while she played with books on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. From the corner of my eye, I saw a swift movement, and held my breath while watching her get a hold of the ladder and pull herself up. Ever so slowly, I put my book down and silently moved a little closer to the area where my little explorer stood. She turned around and opened her mouth, in a triumphant smile. She looked at me, stretched her arms and rehearsed her very first steps. One, two, three… and fell into my arms. I picked her up and danced around, squealing in delight. My baby girl was walking! I called hubby, mom, dad, best friend, and the Washington Post. Baby walked! What a joy! Even as I type these words, a smile spreads across my face. Some of my favorite memories rest on the days when my two girls started exploring the world. But those were also the days when I never rested. I seemed to be always on alert, following their every step. As they ventured into their brand-new world of mobility, there were dangers everywhere. It was that marble table in the middle of the library, where I’d envision my baby falling, head-first. Or...

When Your Deepest Pain and Purpose Collide

We want to change the world and do something big. We want to know our lives, pain, and tears on this earth matter. Searching for our purpose, we read books, say thousands of prayers, and beg God to answer the question: “What in the world are we here for?” We get glimpses, but it still looks hazy. We see other people doing great things and wonder if they have some secret hotline to heaven we know nothing about. I read this scripture a few weeks ago and I’m still digging for all the treasures found here. Psalms 126:5-6  They who sow in tears shall reap with joyful singing. He goes back and forth weeping, carrying his bag of seed {for planting}, will indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing sheaves with him. Oh friend, we have made this way more difficult than it needed to be. And way bigger in our minds than it needed to be. Our culture tells us that our purpose has to be this “big thing” we must strive for, when God is saying, “It’s right in front of you. Look at those around you who are in need.”  What I’ve discovered about people who have done great things is that it always started with small things done with great love. (Mother Teresa). There is a quote that says, “Show me a man’s wounds and I’ll show you his purpose.”  Think of your deepest pain: the things in your life which have hurt you and cut you so deeply that they just about did you in. Now, ask yourself these questions: Who is out...

Above all….

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability— and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.” Teilhard de Chardin (If you want to be reminded of this prayer on a more continual basis, here is a graphic for your phone, desktop, or bulletin board. May you know you are not alone in the cries of your heart.)...

Breathe Mama, Just Breathe

I See You, Mama You are work so hard. I see you. Some of you are working in the home, and some out of the home. All of you invest so much of yourself into your family. There is little time for rest because you are caring so diligently for those around you. I see you. You are always prepared with band-aids, snacks, tissues, and hugs. Your words breathe life and love into the little souls clamoring for your attention. While a nap sounds wonderful, you choose to read a book one more time through weary eyes. You long for your own space, yet your arms ache to hold your little loves. I see you. Breathe, Mama I can hear the worry in your voice. You question if you are doing okay. Yes, I know you second guess your decisions and the way you interacted with them not too long ago. The hard situations, those tricky conversations cause you to wonder if you are up to this task of raising another human. Motherhood seems to be a continuing tug-o-war of wanting a few minutes alone and wanting to hold them close. I want you to know, Mama, you are doing okay. Take a deep breath: a deep, cleansing breath. You deserve those few moments alone, a few minutes of quiet, a bit of rest. Breathe, Mama. That hard conversation you were willing to enter? It made a difference. The decision you made to love fiercely in that hard situation? You made a bigger impact than you know. You Know There’s A Bigger Picture Train up a child in the...