The Crooked Path

She edged closer as we chattered in the hallway about life, family and the upcoming women’s retreat. She stood a ways off as if afraid to approach us – she was tiny and a bit timid. She walked slowly, almost painfully. As the group began to scatter she asked one of the girls how she could volunteer to help out around the church. There was some stammering and stuttering and then a suggestion to ask the pastor’s wife – -because when all else fails send them to the pastor or his wife. I joined in the conversation and soon all the others fell away. It was just the two of us, this timid woman extending her hand to help when she seemed more in need than most, and me. Her story came out in bits and sentence fragments. Open heart surgery just a few weeks ago. No longer able to work. Want to do something. Need to stay busy. She told me “I’ve only been here a couple of times.” In the way she spoke, it’s like she expected rejection. I knew there was more to her story. We talked about places she may want to volunteer. We talked about Wednesday night suppers and Sunday school and then I mentioned Bible study. She seemed excited, but a bit anxious. I shared the dates and showed her where we meet. We traded phone numbers. As we walked out of the empty church building I told her I’d call next week about Bible study. Worry clouded her face, “I try to do good, but I always mess up.” I assured her...

The Circle of Three

It was a typical Sunday morning in church. The pastor told a funny story, challenged me in my walk with God, gave me much to consider and then closed with a heartwarming story about a homeless man. He gave the invitation to salvation and we bowed our heads to pray. We sang the obligatory hymn for the alter call. I considered deep, meaningful issues — where are we eating lunch? He walked down the aisle, his leather vest, biker gloves and bandanna-wrapped head made him stand apart from this Sunday morning crowd that is much more comfortable in an SUV than on the back of a bike. As he stood at the front and spoke to our pastor, the tattoo on his bicep caught my attention. I couldn’t make out the words in the three circles, but I wondered about them. What do they mean? Are they a code? A creed? Who is he? I loved that he was here — in my very traditional Southern Baptist church. We don’t get many bikers… okay, we don’t get any bikers. And edgy is not something we see in these parts. I loved it. This was just what I wanted to see in the church — different people. My heart soared — and then it shattered. As I watched these two men, one young, dressed in leather and the other older in a suit, there heads together almost touching — one slightly graying, the other wrapped in a bandanna, my heart broke. As much as I talk about wanting to break out of the box, I don’t do anything to reach...

Place of Grace

I love reality shows.There, I admit it and I’m not even ashamed of it. But I’m not a hit show reality show kind of girl; I love the obscure, the off-beat, the nutty reality shows. I don’t watch Survivor – too many bugs and weird stuff to eat. I don’t watch Big Brother, it just makes me sad. I do watch the Bachelor. I LOVE The Amazing Race and I can’t wait for the new season. Other than these here are some of my lesser known current / recent past favorites: Groomer Has It – 12 dog groomers wash, cut, and fluff their way through 12 weeks of pet grooming drama. Don’t laugh, there was actually some serious cat drama. Here Come the Newlyweds Show — seven newly married couples compete for weekly prizes and a shot at the grand prize. I tried to get my newlywed daughter to try out for the show – didn’t work. What can you do, you try to raise them right and then they just go off and become responsible and all. Project Runway – I’ve watched every season. Nothing like watching someone whip up a ball gown from left over fruit, some scrap metal, and a string of Christmas garland. Top Chef -Another one I’ve watched since the very first episode. The whole cooking thing fascinates me and if I had the time…. oh, who am I kidding, if I had the time I’d just read more. As someone who loves reality shows, I’m always shocked when Reality slaps me in the face. I assume that everyone is truly kind and honest...

All Aboard!

Luxurious 40 foot cruiser complete with a large, comfortable deck for lounging in the sun, well –appointed living quarters, and all the comforts of home from satellite television to hot showers. This was just one of the boats we saw on a recent family vacation to the coast. Instead of a house or condo on the beach, we opted for a house on the river that flows into the bay. The scenery was much different – green, lush and almost tropical as opposed to wide open beaches and crashing waves. We explored the river and came face to face with boats that ranged from canoes to yachts. There was something for everyone – my husband loved the bass boats but I fell for the lavish cruisers. I could just see myself on the deck of those big boats –big, floppy hat, iced down Diet Coke at my side and a good book in my hand. When I shared my love of the cruiser with my husband he glanced at it and said “too fancy, you can’t fish from that.” Fishing? Who said anything about fishing? My dream consisted of lots of lounging, reading and resting. There were other boats on the waterways – the snazzy bass boats with their rumbling outboard motors that enticed my hubby, high speed ski boats, pontoon boats and then there are the ones I call the working boats. These working boats were as big as or bigger than the fancy cruisers, but that’s where the similarities ended. These boats were made for work. The decks were filled with all manner of equipment, most didn’t...

An Amazing Grace Life

I’m a huge fan of The Amazing Race. I love the adventure, the thrills and new experiences, everything …. except the eating weird stuff part. I don’t like that. As I’ve watched this past season it struck me how much this show makes me think of life in Christ – -a fully lived life in Christ is an Amazing Adventure. It’s not a race so much as a marathon. It’s not about competition but about facing adversity and adventure together. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone; it’s about reaching out to new people and cultures; it’s about having a spirit that wants to learn and grow, and it’s about partnering with my brothers and sisters in Christ and working together. I want that kind of Amazing Race life – more an Amazing Grace life. I don’t want to settle for the quiet, peaceful, comfortable existence. I want to live on the edge; I want to reach out to those who others shun; I want to step out in faith – no, I want to LEAP out in faith. I want to live BIG because I serve God Almighty who spoke this world into existence. I serve the God who raised His son from the dead on the third day and He’s now seated at the right hand of God. I serve a God who is , and was, and is to be! That’s why I want the Amazing Grace life because that’s what He’s done for me! He’s poured out His Amazing Grace over my life. “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”...

High Horses

I can’t stand high horses, so why do I consistently climb up on mine? Maybe I just like the view? Who knows. My latest high horse adventure was just the other day when a dear girlfriend mentioned she’d run into a mutual friend – we’ll call him J. And J’s not just any mutual friend, but one who’d been at the center of a church scandal. I won’t go into details, but J left the ministry over the scandal. When my girlfriend told me about running into J and how they’d talked, I huffed (as you can only do when you’re up on that high horse) and reminded her of all his failures. She went on to tell me about what was happening in J’s life and I huffed again and said “can’t believe you’re so gracious after everything that happened.” And then she said “well, I’m not one to judge after all we’ve been through.” WHAMO! that hit me right between the eyes. My girlfriend was quick to say “not that you’re being judgmental.” But I was being judgmental, she was just being kind. I was right up on top of my high horse thinking because J’s sin was on display for all to see, hear and talk about that made him worse than me. It doesn’t. It just makes him a better target. I don’t know J’s heart, but I sure know mine. I was acting proud and arrogant. I was thinking that deadly thought “Lord, at least I’m not as bad as J (or K or L or whatever letter your person is.)” I was full...

Marshmallow Faith

I love marshmallows. Something about those little cylinders of squishy sweetness makes me all happy inside. They’re fun to eat and even more fun to eat after you roast them over a fire. The outside gets all crispy and the inside is gooey. As I roasted a marshmallow the other day I thought about how we Christians can be like marshmallows when it comes to our faith. Do we just melt in the fire? Some days I worry that I may have marshmallow faith – and that’s not what I want. I want a faith that will stand the test of time and the fiery trials. I don’t want to melt in the fires of life. I want to be more like gold and grow stonger through my trials. I want substance and staying power. Marshmallows are great fun to eat but you can’t live on them. Marshmallow faith is a lot like that to — sweet and fun, but they can’t fill up that deep down hunger. You can’t survive on a diet of marshmallows alone and you won’t live in victorious freedom with marshmallow faith. Just what is marshmallow faith? It’s faith that turns to goo when the heat hits. It’s a faith that’s all about the sugary sweetness and not about the meat of God’s Word. It’s a faith that will make you happy for a short while, but it won’t sustain you over the long haul. It’s a faith without substance. It’s a faith built on the knowledge of others, not a personal knowledge. This is not the faith that God has called me to....

Waves of Life

I was blessed to be on the Girls Getaway Cruise in early February. This cruise combines incredible Christian music, amazing artists, awesome speakers, and funny comedians with all the food, fun, and fellowship of a cruise. Did I mention the food? Getting comfortable with the swaying of the ship was easy at first until the waves got bigger and swaying more noticeable. When the white ‘sick’ bags went up I knew we were in trouble. I quickly realized if I kept my knees bent and swayed with the boat, I managed much better. Of course, when the boat started rocking a bit more I wanted to lock my knees but I knew that would make it worse. I struggle to keep my legs loose and just sway back and forth like I was on a teeter totter (not that it was ever that bad). As I swayed through that one slightly rough night, I realized how much walking on the swaying boat was like walking with the Lord. Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Col 2:6-7 It’s in Christ that I find my sea legs when the going gets rough. When circumstances start my life to swaying and rocking, I bend my knees and call on Him. I ask Him to give me the wisdom to roll with the waves. Only in Christ do I have the strength to make it through the storms of life. Have I always done this? Sadly, no. I’ve...

The Pretty Red Jeep

A pretty red Jeep. It’s not brand new, but it’s exactly what she wanted. To her it’s freedom and maturity. To me, it’s letting go and moving on. She checked online auto sites almost daily and was constantly on the lookout for just the right vehicle. She considered several different models. I almost talked her into a hot pink completely restored vintage Volkswagen Beetle but she balked when she learned that air conditioning wasn’t an option. She considered lost of makes and models, but she fell head over heels for the Jeep Cherokee and not the Grand, just the plain, basic Jeep. We checked it out and decided this is one vehicle that we could live with. We looked all over, traveling hundreds of miles over the weeks as we tracked down an elusive used Jeep that met our requirements — low miles, good maintenance records and within our price range. No luck. We just couldn’t find one that met our needs. Finally, we were ready to give up – and even our sweet – almost- 16 daughter was willing to settle for her second favorite when the pretty red Jeep showed up. We found it on a car lot that I pass every day and is only two miles from the high school. After traveling miles and miles, the very thing we were searching for was right in our backyard – or pretty close by. That pretty red Jeep may say freedom to my darling almost 16 year old daughter, but not to me. As I talked to the Lord about this new place in my life, I...

One More Gift

The ornaments still hang on the tree, the star still blinks on top and the lights still twinkle. The decorations still cover the house and the food is in the refrigerator just waiting on the next hungry soul. But some things are different, festively wrapped presents of all shapes and sizes no longer crowd under the tree and the stockings are missing from their spot on the mantle. The one thing that strikes me the most is the lack of excitement in the air. The energy is gone. Christmas is over. The weeks leading up to Christmas day seem to be never ending. Either you’re working too hard and have too much to get done or you’re waiting until Santa shows up with the latest, greatest hot new toy. Either way, Christmas is a long time coming. It seems like Christmas morning takes forever to arrive and then it’s gone before you can blink – just that fast. One moment you’re giddy with excitement and then it’s gone and you’re in a heap of wrapping paper, bows, and empty boxes. Each December 25th we celebrate the birth of Christ’s birth.. One day out of the 365 days we have each year. We set aside this one day to focus on His amazing birth and what that birth meant to all. What are doing with the other 364 days each year? Christ’s birth was just the beginning for us and all mankind. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and...