The Garden Prayer

For years, the account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane puzzled me. I couldn’t get past the following train of thought: “If Jesus is God, then He knows what God knows. If God knew that the only way to redeem humanity was for Jesus to be crucified, then Jesus knew that. Then why on earth did He ask God to ‘let this cup pass from me’ if He knew that wasn’t an option?” I dissected the account of Jesus in the Garden more times than I can count. I looked for answers, prayed for answers, asked others for answers… and got a lot of nothing. I was trying to make sense of my second cancer diagnosis when I was drawn back to the account of Jesus in the Garden … and it finally clicked. In the Garden, Jesus showed us how to go to Our Father and ask Him to take the hard things from us. He asked for another way to deal with the sin of mankind while remaining completely submitted to God’s will. The account is there for me (and for you). Scripture says this: Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39 HCSB Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:43 HCSB   In the Garden, Jesus shows us this beautiful truth… When life presses on you so hard that you can’t rest, your chest hurts, and you have a hard time breathing…...

Life!! It’s a ROLLERCOASTER!

Recently a friend told me that they were on the “bottom loop” of the roller coaster. Isn’t that just life. Up and down, twist and turns. Funny that sometimes the anticipation of the next loop or deep dip doesn’t feel quite the same when we’re “living” it. But what a gift we have! We can be reminded, by God, in His word, that this life, with all the unexpected loops, does NOT surprise Him…not one bit. EVER.  He’s working and moving in it all; even when we want OFF the ride. He is working, He is moving and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! He’s working and moving in it all; even when we want OFF the ride. He is working. He is moving and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! He is working. He is moving and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! He is moving. and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! THAT is something worth throwing your hands up...

The mess that’s called life

**reposted from May 2015. Maddie is still Maddie. She’s now in grad school figuring out the next steps of this “messy life.” She continues to struggle with directions and singing off key, but she’s living intentionally and can often be found resisting the temptation to overthink. Perhaps you need this reminder today.  You probably don’t know me. Hi, I’m Maddie. Here’s a glimpse into some of the things that I call my life: There’s a big difference between the energy I’m exerting when I say I’m “going for a run” and when the METRA train pulls into the College Avenue station and I’m a block away from the platform. The only points I got marked off on my driving test (despite not having actually taken a real driver’s ed course) were for not following directions. Evidently I “left the course” when I was trying to back up next to the parallel parking cones. I didn’t even know that was something you could do. I’m pretty much perpetually cold. So naturally, I decided to go to college in Chicago. Two years later and I still never remember to keep an extra pair of gloves in my backpack. Speaking of being cold, I’m currently in one of my dad’s old sweatshirts that I found in the basement. Don’t tell him I’m wearing it. I’m just freezing and despite having carried 140 lbs of clothes home (literally one of my bags was 57 lbs. The lady at the airport made me take some of the clothes out and wear them – no joke, I walked through the airport with 4 shirts on,) I didn’t think...

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...

Could you use a little “re-prioritization?” Stop, Look & Listen!

Stop, Look and Listen A summertime re-prioritization guide Stop! For many of us summer is a time to re-group and re-focus but let’s be honest for a minute, what often happens is that summer slips away and all too soon and the leaves begin to change, temperatures cool, Christmas arrives just around the corner faster than we can say “sunscreen,” and we’re back to making New Year’s Resolutions! What if we took the summer to pause mid-year to prayerfully see where we’ve been and where we’re headed?  Summertime is a perfect time in the year to re-prioritze and reflect on where and how this year is going in your life.  Pausing mid year to evaluate is a perfect way to assess life; the perfect time of year to “Stop, Look & Listen.” It just may be the re-prioritization you need to begin the second half of 2017 refreshed and renewed, there is no need to wait until January! Here’s how to begin: Write down each and everything that fills your day. (ALL of it!  No cheating! I KNOW how tempting it can be! Include Household duties, commitments and ministries at church, outside and part time jobs and ANY other commitments that you regularly schedule into your week. This INCLUDES blogging, and social networking ladies!) It will also help to include HOW MUCH time a week or month is dedicated to these activities. There may be several ministries or groups that you belong to or participate in, include them each as a separate category in order to see later which ones need another look. DAILY ACTIVITIES & MINISTRIES:     WEEKLY...

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...