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...

My Summer Prayer

Dear Lord, As You—and anyone who has ever talked to me for more than five minutes—know, summers are a struggle for me. I’m certain I sound like a terrible mom when I say that. And maybe I am a terrible mom. I don’t know. I’m just being real. I’m used to having some space to myself at home—a desk that I clear in the mornings and which remains clear unless I clutter it again. I’m used to being able to sit all day without turning on a TV so that I can work, to let my thoughts and ideas incubate in the silence. It’s not like I’m sitting on the couch eating bon-bons. But this quiet space is where I create. I’m used to juggling appointments and errands and the items on my to-do list with limited restrictions, which normally center on drop-off and pick-up times at school. But now there are bodies in my house. People talking, sitcoms on television, questions about what’s for lunch and can I go here and oh-no-I-forgot-I-need-to-be-there-in-five-minutes! My kids are older now: more self-sufficient, less demanding of my attention. So really, this summer is going to be different than those in the past. But this feeling of dread I associate with summer remains in me still. So, Lord, I am asking for Your help. With each drive to the school for basketball or soccer or conditioning or summer PE, let me not feel inconvenienced, but instead let me enjoy the time with my son while he’s still too young to drive himself. Let me marvel at his changes, enjoy his music, listen to...

The Best Investment

How would you describe yourself? As a project person? Or as a people person? Although we’re all a combination of both of these, I’d have to say I tip the scale in the direction of projects. I like the feeling I get when I’m able to cross tasks off my to-do list. Last weekend began with a full agenda. My husband Steve was out of town on Saturday, and I had naively lined up a weeks’ worth of chores – hoping to finish all of them in one day. Talk about setting myself up for failure. Am I the only one who does this? By mid-afternoon I made a disappointing discovery: I wasn’t going to finish all the items on my list. I wouldn’t even come close. Time to think about what was most important. A valuable lesson We would be celebrating our adult daughter’s birthday the next day. Did it really matter if the house was spotless? In five years would I really remember if the house was clean for her big day? No. But I would remember planning a special celebration for Riley, and spending time with our family. I made a decision. Cleaning could wait. I was going to focus on Riley and making this birthday one she’d always remember. We had a wonderful celebration the next day, and I was reminded of a valuable lesson: We were created for relationships – it’s much more important to invest in people than in things. People trump projects every time. (click to tweet) The right choice Jesus was the ultimate example of this principle. He wasn’t concerned about the...

Who Do You Follow, and Why?

With the technological ease of “following” people, we have access to all kinds of resources and individuals. We don’t just read someone’s books; we’re “friends” with them. We tweet a quote, and they favorite it, or better yet, retweet or reply. We get to know their families through Instagram photos. We follow their journeys of celebrations and heartaches. We live life alongside them…or at least, that’s what it feels like. We pray when they announce they have cancer. We grieve when their marriage falls apart. We get defensive when a critic attacks them. We don’t have to wait for the new book to come out; we sat through the writing process with them as they blogged. We preorder every book they write. We attend a conference because they are speaking. We listen to their messages online. Is that so wrong? It’s not just the “famous” people we follow. Look around. Who do you follow at church? Work? In your community? In your family? Who carries significant weight in your life? Not sure? Ask, “Of all the people who ask me to do something, who am I most likely to say ‘yes’ to without hesitation? Of all the people who give me information, who am I most likely to believe without question?” Following people isn’t wrong. God uses others to teach, challenge, and hold us accountable. However, we can become disciples of the wrong people, or of the right people for the wrong reasons. Take an inventory of how healthy your following is. Who would you support no matter what? Do you have a difficult time believing anything bad, especially...

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...

Stop And Smell The Roses – Taking Time For A Year End Review Of Your Life

  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b ESV All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is coming to a close: the house is a mess, the decorations might still be up, and yet now is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses and make time for a year end review of your life.  As a matter of fact, apart from the major holidays this specific week (between Christmas and the New Year) is my favorite time of the year. Do you want to know why?  Every year I take this week to sit and review what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved and what I hope to do in the next year. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a strategic process that my husband and I do every year. We started doing this about ten years ago and it’s turned into the most thought provoking and productive week for both of us. Chances are you do something like this either mentally or on paper, so why not make a plan and see what you learn in the process. I’m going to share with you what I do, you take it, then tweak it to fit you and your family. Here’s what you need to get ready; paper/giant sticky notes/notepad colored markers/pens/highlighters calendar (last year and the coming year) music (this is very important for me) – I love to listen to “Epic Soundtracks” on Pandora so that I don’t get distracted by the words in the songs. I put those giant sticky notes...

Seeing you, being seen, and seeing Him

My friend Tami and I are very different, although we’ve been close friends for years. We are on different ends of the spectrum politically and in many other ways. But the other day I met her for lunch and ended up pouring out my heart—how I feel, what emotions have come to the surface lately, and so on. I told her these things knowing she had different opinions, and she shared a little about where she’s coming from. We could do this because we were in a safe place—we both knew we were loved, differences and all, and we trusted each other to listen with an open heart. It was a really healing moment for me. A reminder that differences don’t have to divide us. One thing Tami and I have always had in common is we hate to be misunderstood. If you want to be mad at me, fine, but only if you’re basing it on the things I actually did or what I actually meant. We can’t rest until we’ve corrected mistaken impressions. A big insight I’ve had lately is along those same lines: We all want to be seen and know that we’re heard. [I promise this isn’t about the election… bear with me. REALLY. I promise. It has a God point and doesn’t take a stand about sides!] I’ve heard analysts say that many thousands of people who supported our President-elect voted in large part because they felt like he understood their plight and was on their side. They supported him because for years they’ve felt overlooked by our government and media and now they feel...

Courage to Say the Tough Stuff

I’ve never called anyone a brood of snakes (Matthew 3:7-8), or compared anyone to white washed tombs, “which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27 NIV). In fact, I’m usually tempted to lean the other way–to keep my mouth closed, to avoid tension, to find ways to maintain peace. And this isn’t only because I hate-hate-hate conflict. It’s also because when those opportunities arise, I find myself in a mental debate, trying to decide whether to speak up or remain quiet. There’s a time for both. And only God knows when that time is. That’s the kicker, right? To be led by the Spirit, not our emotions, our pride, or our desire to be right or change someone else. And to truly “speak the truth in love,” rather than frustration or anger. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). Although, sometimes God does give us a kick in the pants. I was relatively new to church and extremely immature in my faith. Immature period. My husband and I had been married for maybe four years and were going through a rough patch. You know what happens when we ladies go through something, right? We gather our friends around us and “vent.” Also known as gripe. And complain. And invite everyone within hearing range to join our pity-husband-bashing party. Because that’s real effective, right? And certainly godly. (insert a heavy dose of sarcasm here.) So there I...

Someone Needs You to Be Their People

Once upon a time, Greg and I had five animals…..two hunting dogs and three cats. Over time, all five of them died from an assortment of maladies. With each passing, our hearts were broken in pieces. When Greg’s last dog passed, he said, “No more animals. It is too hard to lose them.” That was in 2010. Fast forward to 2016. Our neighbors have 8 dogs. Yes, I said EIGHT. They are an adorable assortment of beagles and hounds. When we exercise, it is not unusual for a string of them to follow us home. After a few minutes at our house, they all head back to the neighbor’s place. About two months ago, all that changed. I walked home after exercising and several of them followed me. I came into the house and went about my morning. An hour or so later I look out the French doors onto our deck and see a face. A doggie face and a doggie body lounging in the sun on our deck. I thought to myself, “well, it will go home after a bit.” NOPE! A couple of days later I walk back to the neighbor’s house, which is a half mile away and Puppy walks with me. Greg came and picked me up so Puppy would not follow me back. Success! Got that taken care of!! I decided not to walk back toward my neighbor’s house again so the dogs would not follow me home. I did not want the neighbors to think we were stealing their dogs, for heaven’s sake. A week or two later I look out on the deck and...

A Simultaneous God

  HONEST confession alert: I would, apart from Jesus, choose COMFORTABLE every day of the week. I would chose to be COMFORTABLE. Comfortable relationships. Comfortable circumstances. Comfortable conversations. Comfortable ministries. Comfortable community. Comfortable media. Comfortable biases. Comfortable, comfortable, comfortable. But God simply will not have it. HE has heard my honest and sincere heart cries. HE has heard the burdens on my heart. HE knows the people in my life that I care deeply for and love, and HE cares more. HE could care less about COMFORTABLE. We have all the evidence we need in people who have gone before us. People like Daniel, Moses, Abraham, Esther, Ruth, Naomi, Peter, Paul, Jonah, Martha, David and Jesus. “Then God said, Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Genesis 22:2 •••••••• “And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17 •••••••• “And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey, except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in their belts.” Mark 6:7-8 HE. COULD. CARE. LESS. ABOUT. OUR. COMFORT. As I’ve grown in my walk, I’ve learned to see things more and more through HIS lens. That’s grace friends, and all part of this walk as we move towards home. Recently, I’ve found myself...