What do you do when you fall?

I lacked grace. Mercy was nowhere in sight. Instead, I chose to be headstrong, stubborn, and consumed with my own judgements. I was right, my friend knew it, and I certainly knew. In the heat of the moment, I was hell bent on making sure my thoughts were heard. Truth needed to be spoken, right? Yet, I sounded like nothing more than a clanging cymbal because I lacked love (1 Corinthians 13:1). As I focused solely on being right, I lost sight of the person standing before me. I diminished her situation, her struggle. I diminished her as I hurled my words at her. Negating the reason she had approached me, the reason the conversation began, I became wrapped in my own knowledge and insights. I puffed myself up to the point I nearly imploded. There she sat in front of me, wincing as I rubbed salt into her already wounded heart. I can prophecy and move mountains with my faith, but am nothing without love (1 Corinthians 13:2). While nearly breaking my arm patting myself on the back with how accurate my rebuttal was, I finally paused to look at my friend. Her head hung down. Her shoulders hunched forward as a gentle stream of tears flowed down her cheeks. What had I done? How could I have been so callous, so prideful? Was being right more important than helping her to navigate the situation she faced? Yes, she had made a poor decision, but now, so had I. Love protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7), but my words had lacked love. I had fallen hard,...

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...

A peek into my journal

I thought about titling this “Naked and unashamed,” but that would make it look like I have a whole lot more confidence than I really have. With me, naked just is never a good thing! Whatever you want to call it, though, this post is about getting real. I wrote this in my journal recently, and then the next time I picked it up I felt so strongly that I should share it—not because it’s amazing writing, and not because I have the answers, because I don’t—but because I think someone out there needs to know that they are not alone. Here’s the truth: We don’t all feel inspired all the time, and we don’t always know how to pray. Even me—and I’ve published two books on prayer. So please read on and know that each person’s faith life will ebb and flow. Prayer may come easily sometimes and be more difficult at other times. But God remains the same, and He always wants to hear from us. I am so grateful. It’s Saturday morning—really almost noon—and I’m feeling that familiar resistance. I should work; I want to read. I should pray; I want to read. I should be productive—I have so much to do—but I’m tired and just want to indulge myself. Lord, what is it in me that wants to do meaningless, selfish things over spending time with You? Is it the fear—the knowledge—that You know me? That You see through my BS? That You know how far my heart and thoughts are from You in the daily grind? Revive that passion in me, Lord. Please. It was so good for me...

The Lie We Have Believed

You and I have bought into a lie. It was not intentional, on your part or mine. Slowly but surely, we have fallen deeper and deeper into its grasp. This lie has invaded our communities, our culture, and even our churches. I do not believe this lie was meant to harm us. No, the harm came when we took hold of it and ran away with it. We gave it more meaning than it was ever meant to have. We are the ones who gave it the wings now beating us senseless. What is the lie you and I have bought into? We are enough. I know: I am as shocked as you are. We are going to have to do some exploring to discover why the “you are enough” mantra is a lie. We are going to have to be honest. Yes, we are going to have to take a good, honest look at what those three little words mean, and at our own selves (gulp). But, we are women who desire freedom. There is no freedom in lies. We long to walk in truth because truth sets us free. You are enough. We read it, and we see it splashed across social media. How desperately we want to believe we are good, that we do not need to compare ourselves to others any longer. In our comparisons, we have begun to feel less than, and we are tired of it. Enough is enough because I am enough, we declare! We raise our fists and dare anyone to defy us. But sister, can I tell you what I...

do I love something else more than Jesus?

We know that Christ’s proximity to us never changes, so if I’m walking through a moment, a week, or a season where He feels distant, there’s a chance there’s something going on in my heart. I question my heart when I’m feeling anxious, apathetic, or overwhelmed. If I’m wondering where Jesus is or having trouble hearing Him, I compel my heart to evaluate: Am I loving something else more than Jesus? That’s not to say that His silence or my emotions are always tied to some prioritization, sin-issue. Sometimes we walk through desert seasons, unprompted by our actions, where He is actively silent. Sometimes our emotions just don’t make logical sense. Yet, in asking these questions, I’m able to better identify if something emotional or spiritual is going on that’s causing whatever disconnect my body and soul are feeling, or if it’s something that I’ve consciously or unconsciously stepped myself into. Over the years, I’ve found a couple of good indicators that help me answer this question honestly. If any one of these things is true of my recent habits or thought patterns, it’s often an indication that something has stolen or is in the process of stealing away my first Love. 1.) If I’m not tithing. . . This is often the first place I can go when it comes to checking the priorities in my heart. Since I was little, giving generously hasn’t been a strong suit of mine. While the Lord has been gracious, patient, and convicting, it’s still one of the first things to go when I’m keeping a tight grip on my life or am...

Are you free?

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13, NASB) If the recent U.S. presidential election has shown me anything, it is how broken humanity is. I saw statements being made on social media that made me cringe. I shuddered as negative, condescending comments were slung haphazardly across the internet. Would we dare to speak those words if we were face to face? Maybe. Maybe not. Being able to voice our opinions while also respecting others seems to be quite the balancing act. We have teetered and tottered, and often crashed wildly into one another. You see, we are free to have our opinions. Certainly, we are free to believe passionately and strongly on issues. We are free to use our social media accounts as we choose. We are free, yet we live as though we are chained. In Galatians, Paul speaks of our freedom. His warnings then are valid now. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things you please. (Galatians 5:17, NASB) How do we know if we are being led by the flesh? Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the...

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....

A Tale of Two Women and the Rest of Us In•between

She wore her issues like a coat. She entered my life one Christmas season. It was apparent upon meeting her that the road had been a rough one for her and her children. Her brokenness was visible. As we came into relationship and I learned more of her story, it was apparent how rough it actually had been. Circumstances led to poor choice after poor choice, but her heart longed for different, she just didn’t know what different could be. As we all know, the broken road is a hard one to walk and unlike the 30 minute television drama, life doesn’t always wrap up in an hour, or in a season for that matter. It was the night that I received the call that I realized just how shattered she was. She called from the back of the police car. She and her boyfriend were being taken to jail for physical abuse against her son. She called to ask if I could come get him. I met him at the hospital and my heart was ripped in two. The issues that led to her brokenness continue to this day. BROKEN.  She was the picture of perfection. Her life looked perfect from the outside. It screamed perfect. In all honesty, I avoided her for some time because the perfect-ness was intimidating and a bit off-putting. Perfect hair. Perfect kids. Perfect marriage. Perfect life. Perfect seasonal porch decor. PERFECT. Our lives eventually intersected and we came into relationship and I was given a peek behind the perfect curtain. As we all know, there is no REAL life that resembles perfect in...

New Crop

I live next to acres of farmland. Every harvesting season, I’m so excited to watch the giant harvester machines gather all the grain. The tiny seeds that were planted that spring have now become large crops of produce, and the farmers set out to reap the results of their hard work. I wonder how good it must feel to finally fill the storehouses with the “fruits” of the farmers’ labor. After the difficult task of harvesting is finished and the crop is safely dispersed, the fields look rather pathetic. The remaining chopped and twisted stalks look like rows of defeated soldiers coming in from a devastating battle. The acres of farmland make for a tattered and disheveled landscape, unfolding against the beautiful, sunlit horizon. It’s almost depressing to behold, and I have to remind myself that there will be new life in the death of that year’s crop. Finally, the tractors come in and till the earth. The yellowed and ragged stalks are mixed in with the earth, and the dark brown soil appears like a clean slate along the skyline. Possibility, new beginnings, fresh start – are all words that come to mind when I see the acres of empty fields. And I know that the dilapidated stalks will become nourishment for next year’s harvest. Sometimes God allows acres of our life to be plowed over. Whatever crop we produced is taken away, and we feel like we are left with nothing but tattered dreams and shredded efforts. But God will not allow the fields of our obedience to stay desolate. He will gently till the earth of...

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...