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...

I am not God

But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASV) I am not God. This information is not breaking news, nor will it shock anyone. However, I am beginning to see the need to admit, “I am not God. Neither are you.” Logically, we know this to be true. Yet, we go about living as if we are in control of every moment of every day. In a broken world, where all seems lost, I believe I must stand up and take control. Someone has to, right? I do my best to control situations and circumstances, conversations and people. I stand on truth, and have become convinced it is my duty to ensure others believe that truth. When chaos abounds, I work diligently to restore peace. My name is not Jehovah Shalom. Jesus saves, not me. I do not know the number of stars in the sky. I cannot count the grains of sand near any ocean, or in my own backyard. The number of my days are unknown to me. In fact, I have no idea how many hairs lay on my own head. In reality, I know so little. I can do so little. Sarah, or Sarai as she is originally named, once believed she needed to take control. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham, then called Abram. God promises descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky. God promises Abram’s descendants will take possession of...

No matter what… Grace

Do you really understand grace? I don’t. But oh, how much beauty there is in the sliver of comprehension that I can wrap my head around. I recently read The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, and it transformed my faith. Well, maybe that’s not exactly accurate. It validated the beliefs I’d already formed and pushed me even farther in that direction. I think grace is one of those words we throw around in the church and don’t really think about. It’s often defined as unmerited favor, but even that is misleading. It’s true that it’s not dependent on us; our merits don’t qualify us for it. But it’s also true that in the very act of offering so much to us, God makes us worthy. We’re not qualified, but God loves us enough to give us absolutely everything we need for all of eternity: His love. His forgiveness. His mercy. His compassion. His transforming power. Grace means that God loves us no matter what. He calls to us, woos us, pursues us, transforms us. It means that there is nothing else we could do that would make God love us more than He already does. It also means there is nothing we could ever do that will make Him love us less. There is no way to stop Him from loving us. There is no way to earn more—He’s already offered it all. Every last bit of it. It’s all held out to us, His Almighty arm fully extended. He doesn’t love me more after that really powerful quiet time I have than He did before I sat down...

You Can Go Your Own Way Or You Can Seek God’s Will

 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:5 Have you ever tried to do things your own way? When the focus is on trying to do what you want instead of what God’s will is for the situation? Me too! Truth be told, I am somewhat of a “control freak.” There, I said it. Whew, I feel a little better now. You know you are a control freak when you will do whatever it takes to make sure that things are done “just right”–whether it is the dishes, the laundry, the project at work, or even your hair. The catch twenty-two with this though is that people around you like that you things get done and that they can count on you when the going gets tough, but it can also frustrate and tear down some of those same relationships, not to mention the fact that it keeps us focused on what “we” can do. When our focus is on what we can do, handle and get done then the weight of the burden rests completely on our shoulders. We start to feel the weight of all these things we’ve picked up along the way because we are get it done girls who like things done the “right way”. Each step we take throughout the day seems harder and heavier until we feel like we can’t take another single step. In our pursuit to do things our way we somehow managed to sidestep God. We left Him out and...

Assuming the Best

  At every moment and with every interaction, we have two choices–we can assume the worst or the best in others. Many times, our assumptions arise instantly, fueling thoughts which trigger emotions, and before we know it, we’ve worked ourselves up in a frenzy based on perception. The problem is, our perception is faulty. Almost every single time. And our faulty perception hurts–ourselves, others, and our relationships. Consider this scenario. I go outside and see trash left on our lawn–like a whole mess of it. Fast food bags; sticky, squished ketchup packets; crushed soda cups, their syrupy contents seeping into the grass. Perhaps a group of teenagers live across from us. Maybe one of those teenagers tends to be quiet, not seen much. Maybe he even dresses … like a teenager. My conclusion? He left the trash. He must be careless, rude: part of the entitled generation. But … what if I had evidence that indicated my husband had left the trash? In that case, an entirely different assumption would begin to unfold in my mind. Because I know my husband to be a man of integrity who is often the first to serve others, I’d assume something must have happened. Either he’d been distracted and had forgotten he left the trash, or he’d been pulled away unexpectedly and intended to return. Completely different scenarios, one heap of trash. Isn’t it interesting how a little bit of background information can drastically change our interpretations of things? The problem is, we rarely have that much knowledge about most of the people we interact with on a daily basis. That’s why...

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...

Feeding the Discontent Monster

I was mad. Discouraged. Ready to quit. In the span of a month, I’d been hit hard on every side—physically, emotionally, relationally. And to top it off, an area I’d poured my life into for over a decade seemed to be dying. It wasn’t fair. Wasn’t right. I knew God was in control, which meant—He’d allowed all this. That was what frustrated me most. It felt as if He’d intentionally led me to a painful dead end. These are the thoughts one has late at night, when sleep won’t come and negativity is fed by the predawn darkness. The more I thought about the events—and there were numerous—that had crashed into my nice, pre-planned, agenda-based world, the more upset I became. The heavier my discouragement felt. Until I became paralyzed by inactivity. In truth, by self-centeredness. That’s what it came down to. Entrenched in entitlement, I focused on the have nots instead of the haves. With thought after thought, I fed the Discontent Monster until her insatiable appetite overshadowed every good and precious thing Christ had given. The next morning, groggy, stiff, and still nursing a self-fed negative attitude, I opened my Bible and … read this: “…For I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (Phil. 4:11-12). Why had God allowed all these trials to hit? Why had He seemingly killed that which I was so certain, over a decade previously,...

Behind The Makeup

Over the years I’ve been blessed to serve in ministry at the local church. Most of the time you hope and pray that what you are doing is making an impact, but truth be told you never fully know just what that impact is. A good friend of mine, Michelle Garrison, shared this with me a few weeks ago and I immediately knew that this was something that needed to be talked about with you as well. This is something that many of us wrestle with, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the things that I talk/write about more than anything else: Girlfriends, vulnerability and being real with each other. It’s not easy to do, that’s for sure, but something incredible happens when we start to get behind the makeup. I pray you are as encouraged by her words as I have been…she is not an author, speaker, or even someone that likes to be in the spotlight, she’s a real woman, doing real life and trying really hard to live out her faith and I just love that about Michelle. Her words are from the heart and I know that it will challenge you as much as it did me. As I assessed my face in the makeup mirror this morning, I was so thankful that I was able to hide my imperfections under the mask of makeup. The day before, I hung around the house and wore no makeup. It is amazing how good you feel when you look all put together. On that no makeup day, I wasn’t feeling at my best. Then, my thoughts...

Mortally Wounded Hearts

Recently, while running, I came upon an older gentleman with hat on that said “Army Vet.” I was immediately prompted to thank him for his service because I’ve lived through sending a brother off to war. I’ve wrestled with not knowing if he would return alive. I’ve heard his stories. The sacrifice is real. Immediately, he told me his name was Joe and explained he was an Army medic. It was a pretty surface conversation initially. Joe went on to tell me how he was shot while saving a fellow soldier on the battlefield. Right then, Holy Spirit prompted me, “ask Him about Jesus.” I don’t like that I’m always hesitant in sharing Jesus. I love Jesus and I want to share His life-giving power, but I find myself doubting my words so much that oftentimes I shy away from it. But, hesitantly I asked, “did you come to know Jesus during this time?” Naively, I thought I would share Jesus with Joe, but the truth is he already radiated Jesus from head to toe. For three miles we walked together and he shared Jesus story after Jesus story of God’s faithfulness in his life. Being shot at 18 years old, 13 major surgeries, twice having open heart surgery, battling cancer, having three girls(two adopted), losing his wife unexpectedly to cancer … the stories went on and on and on. Yet, of all the stories he told, one stuck with me. “One day,  I went out to save a soldier and I was also shot. Right here.” Lifting his shirt, Joe revealed a scar on the right side of...

I don’t need a cheerleader

Around every corner, the messages are shouted. You are enough. BeYOUtiful. You are strong. Just be you. You’ve got this. You are beautiful. These well meaning sentiments are splashed across social media pages and in the pages of magazines. May I be honest with you? I am tired of them: all of them. I have grown weary of the “I am woman, hear me roar!” anthem. Many days, I just want the pom-poms to be laid down. All these fancy, pretty posts telling me how strong and wonderful I am are utter fallacy. Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy  4:2, NIV) I know myself. At forty-one years old, I can own up to my flaws. I wear makeup to hide and cover up facial features, and I select clothes to hide areas of my body. Honestly, I would prefer to not “just be me.” In a moment of “just being me,” I yelled at my daughter in the middle of Disney World. The harshness of my tone caused her eyes to fill with tears and her lip to tremble. Strong? Nope: not me, not then. I was tired, stressed over the rapid fire questions I was being asked, and completely incapable of handling it. In the crowd, in the constant motion and noise, I lost my mind. Seeing both my daughter’s reaction and the look of surprise on my husband’s face was enough for me to know I don’t got this. I don’t need a cheerleader to fill me with feel good messages....