Blowing Up Shame

Shame. It’s a powerful force. Shame imprisons people. Shame keeps secrets hidden. Shame brings on isolation, hurt, pain. Shame divides. Shame terrifies people. Shame keeps people from connecting. Shame causes sin, hurt, pain (etc) to grow. Shame keeps you masked. Shame is defined as: the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another. Synonyms for shame include; humiliation, to mortify, embarrassment, chasten, to humble. In establishments of faith, shame often keeps people from asking for and getting the help that they so desperately need. What would people think if they knew… insert “shameful” behavior here? The enemy uses shame to further bind people, causing them to believe there is no freedom for them and whatever they are struggling with. We all know what happens to things that stay hidden. They grow and they combine forces with shame and the enemy and cause you to enter into a downward spiral. I am an extroverted introvert. Which simply means I have both introverted and extroverted tendencies. As an extrovert I love to meet new people (when the mood is right.) I love connecting with people. I don’t mind (and sometime greatly enjoy) being the center of attention, but my introverted side despises small talk, and favor connecting in deep ways. I am extremely introspective, and I think surface level stuff is a waste of time. Because of my make up and the fact that I get the privilege of helping women (and sometimes men) navigate through life and personal crisis, I LOVE to help people BLOW UP SHAME. I can, at times,...

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...

“God Won’t Give you More Than You Can Bear”

This phrase has been both puzzling and troubling to me over the years, specifically when I had cancer and during times when I experienced spiritual warfare personally and in our ministry. So, I went digging for answers. There is no scripture that tells us that God won’t give us more than we can bear or that tells us that God won’t allow more than we can bear. What you WILL find is 1 Corinthians 10:13, which states: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) This verse is referring to TEMPTATION. God does allow us to be tempted to sin, but He NEVER sets us up to fail. He will not allow circumstances so that the ONLY option we have is to sin. God is loving and ALWAYS gives us an alternative to sin. We misquote this verse and use it to apply to hardships, sickness, and all sorts of troubles…which seems harmless enough. I find comfort in telling you “God won’t give you more than you can bear.” It helps me reassure myself that you are okay and not in need of my help. It’s not as comforting when you are on the receiving end of this platitude. In fact, it has caused me a great deal of grief. I remember thinking on more than one occasion, “Well, what is wrong with me then? I am fairly certain that this is more...

Don’t Judge Me!

Judging is an interesting phenomena. It’s taken a lot of heat in our culture. We’re told not to judge, and we’re judged when we do so. And not all judging seems to be under fire. It seems acceptable to offend some through judgment but not others. People say, “I don’t want to be judged,” “That person has no right to judge me,” or “I know they’re going to judge me,” not realizing or accepting that they’re making judgments with their statements. When people judge, they assume and they often attack, or at least it feels that way. Judging can harm people and relationships. And can we actually accurately judge with the limited information we have? We use phrases such as “use your judgment” but if we’re relying on our own judgment (and values), we’re likely going to get it wrong. Judgments, even when we try to focus on the facts, involve assumptions, personal experiences, and bias. What we know and even observe is limited. However, we have access to insights beyond our understanding. When we replace judgment with discernment, it involves seeking and yielding to God. It takes the heat off of us and trusts God. We’re still responsible, but the responsibility comes by obeying God, trusting how he guides is the best option, and following him even when we don’t understand why he would have us be silent when we see the perfect opportunity to confront someone or why he would have us speak up when we feel the situation is too heated. We see the immediate need or concern, but God sees how a long string of...

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...

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...

It’s Time to Move On

Sometimes we think we’re done. It’s time to move on, or so we believe. We’re ready to be done with a season because we’re exhausted or we see a better offer. Things aren’t going well, or things are going exceptionally well. For whatever reason, we assess (or rationalize) that God is prompting us to take a step away from where we are and move on to something else. Especially if it takes time for us to adjust to the idea of moving on, it’s hard when God says, “Wait just a minute.” Jesus did it to Simon in Luke 5. Simon and other fishermen had been trying to catch fish all night. They were done. In fact, they were washing their nets, which wasn’t a simple task. They definitely did not want to dirty them again and restart the clean-up process. It’s like having everything wrapped up for the day, all accounts reconciled, notes written, reports submitted, electronics shut down, doors locked, then someone asking you to open up and get everything started again. Only Jesus didn’t ask. He stepped into the boat, began teaching, and told Simon to fish. Simon felt the need to report to Jesus what a waste of time fishing would be based on what was going on. I can hear our similar responses: “But God, these people just don’t respect me any longer. In fact, I’m not sure if they ever liked me. Don’t ask me to stay. It’s just not going to work.” “I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do. I finally find myself wrapping everything up. It seems like it’s time...

The Widow Lamp of the Journey

(photo credit) Each year on the first Sunday in March, the Iditarod Trail Committee lights a small gas lantern and hangs it from the Burled Arch. Called the Widow’s Lamp, it remains lit until the last musher is off the Iditarod trail. The extinguishing of the lamp by the final musher signals the official end of the race. (https://iditarodoutsider.wordpress.com/tag/widows-lamp/) Life is full of journeys. Physically, emotionally, or mentally we all experience periods that require endurance, patience, and growth.  The tendency to rush a process that refuses our advances and takes its natural time to develop, often unfolding longer than we expect or hope, is familiar to most of us. For some, the start and finish of the journey is perhaps the toughest. For others, the long stretch in between,  feeling alone on the trail, exhausted, with no real sign of advancement, is the most difficult stage. Seasons of transition or waiting can be a big part of a journey where there is little light or knowledge of what is to come. Every winter in Willow, Alaska, dog sled teams start the beginning of March on the toughest marathon trail with whiteout conditions and blizzard temperatures. It is not unusual for mushers (dog sled drivers) and their dogs to push through inky Alaskan blackness, unable to see clearly what lies ahead. Yet, on the final stretch of unforgiving ice after days of remarkable journey, competitors realize the finish line is attainable with the vision of one small hanging lantern: a symbol of completion. I imagine for the musher and his team, sight of the widow’s lamp is an unparalleled prize...