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Does God Allow Grief?


The topic of grief has been a prevalent one for much of our country over the course of this past year. There has been so much loss…of loved ones, of routine, of jobs, of relationships, of normalcy. Grief upon grief seems to be a binding commonality amongst friends and strangers alike. It has been so commonplace that it begs the question…why? Why is this something that God would allow? To the detriment of my husband, this was a topic I could not get off my mind as we were standing on the top of Sugar Mountain in Boone, NC this past weekend. 

In a cool dad moment, my Christopher decided he would take all of us on an impromptu trip, five hours north to allow our kids an opportunity to experience snow. Among our adventures was skiing – he hadn’t been in years and the kids had never been. He was SO excited and I… was not entirely thrilled. My insecurities were much higher than my anticipation. 

Before hitting the slopes, we first had to gear up. It is important to note that I was already sporting 2 long sleeve heat-insulating running shirts, long running leggings under my jeans, thick long socks, a massive coat, toboggan and (because of Covid) a mandated mask. (The gloves were riding along in my pocket until we got back outside.) In other words, I was layered for warmth! We made it to the back equipment room with the multitudes of others who were also eager to suit up and hit the snow. But first I had to add to my layers an additional snow bib and ski boots. By this point the nerves were revved all the way up, the heat of the crowded room and weight of all of the attire was pressing in – bringing with it an unwavering rush of panic. I put on my first ski boot and instant claustrophobia rushed over me. If you have never skied, these boots are very big, heavy and obviously restrictive in your ankle movement. I had barely gotten it on when nausea washed over me. I genuinely thought I was going to jump out of my skin. I pulled it off as fast as I could, stripped myself of my coat, pulled off the mask and toboggan and inwardly freaked out. Then I looked over at the excited faces of my kids and immediately thought ‘How am I going to do this? There is no way that I can do this!”…

As I was struggling in this ridiculous moment, I could not get past how familiar this feeling was to that of grief – something our family has been battling with since the passing of my father-in-law toward the end of 2020. Grief. It is something that we always know is out there. We know that it is possible around any given corner, at any unknown…future time. If asked, many of us could give our best Webster’s Dictionary response as to what grief is… that it is a “deep and poignant distress caused by bereavement; a cause of suffering; a trouble or annoyance; an unfortunate outcome.” But until we are faced with it – there is no way to understand the weight it carries; how layered it is; and how at any moment any additional thing makes it instantly suffocating. Grief, in my personal opinion, is a vicious beast. It makes you feel overwhelmingly claustrophobic where your primary thought is “How am I going to do this? There is NO way that I can do THIS!” Unlike my ski attire, however, you can’t just start shedding things to help that feeling pass. It seems so overwhelming…a bit cruel even…surely this isn’t what the Lord intended for us.

And yet, God allows grief.

  • “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  • “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

It is something He allows, yes, but not without reason. It is an opportunity to lean in on Him. It is an opportunity to watch Him move first hand. It is a way to connect with the One who suffered far more than we will ever understand – even in our darkest grief. It is under the weight of grief that we are reminded of our need for a Savior, that we remember a world who is lost without Him and that we desperately need to cling to Him. 

Yes, He allows grief, but God also helps us process grief.

It took a moment, and some inward cursing, but I was finally able to get on all of the clothing and equipment I would need to safely step onto a slippery mountainside. We made our way from the equipment room to the door that led to the slopes, whereby I was handed my actual skis and poles (dear glory…more stuff!). We then promptly headed for the practice area. This practice area had almost no drop, but just enough incline to allow them the ‘downward’ sensation. It was only a matter of yards in length – not at all intimidating (to them). It was the first opportunity that everyone had to actually put on their skis and get a feel for how to navigate the ice and snow. Within minutes, they were all dropping; skis going one direction, bodies going the other. I tried to help Chris retrieve the littler ones and push them back to the top so they could try again. Each of our children reacted very differently to the difficulties that skiing presented them. One of our boys willingly flung himself to the ground as a braking mechanism. Our daughter fumed that the skis would not do what she wanted. All four processed and worked through it, and my husband graciously and patiently helped each one right where they were. You will notice my use of ‘they’ here as I had yet to actually put my skis on. It was an hour of practicing and they finally felt ready to try an actual sloped incline, when my six year old explained to me that it was now my turn to put on my skis. I reluctantly complied. I placed one foot in, and it immediately grew a mind of its own slipping all around while I tried to put on the other ski. I hemmed and hawed, made several excuses, and finally got the darn things on and attempted my own jaunt across the practice area. My entire body was tense, and I remembered – instantly – why skiing is not my thing. I had absolutely NO control. 

Similarly, grief is something that comes in and out whenever it wants to. It takes your mind one place, despite the fact that your body is trying to go a completely different direction. It is unpredictable and completely frustrating. It comes at you in random, unexpected moments. Sometimes it sneaks up and sometimes it literally takes the ground from underneath you. It makes you feel you have absolutely no control. So how do we process it? How do we navigate something that appears seemingly unable to tame? To process, scripture says…

  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:6-8
  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

If you are the one trying to help someone to process it – may I suggest the strategy my Christopher took that evening that we stood on that mountainside. Chris knew my insecurities and reservations. He knew they did not match with his adventure and inhibitions. And while he knows well that skiing is something that can be powered through and figured out – he knew that he couldn’t force me to figure that out. It was something I was going to have to navigate at my own speed and in my own way. He gave me the freedom to take my time and to navigate what was scary and unfamiliar in a way that was more comfortable for me. He met me where I was. When someone you love is grieving scripture says to embody the fruit of the Spirit and fully explains how to demonstrate that love…

  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
  • “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

God provides relief from grief.

At some point, Chris came and retrieved our littlest and took him over with the others to the ‘real’ slopes (turns out he was the best of all of them!) and I was left in the practice area. And for an hour, I stood at the top of the little incline, practicing putting the skis on, allowing myself to walk/ski forward, trying to make my way to the opposite side with the goal of stopping in an upright position – whereby I would take the skiis back off, walk to the top and do it again. I did this back and forth around 10 times. I ‘yard saled’ hard – several of those times. I hated the ‘out of control’ feeling every single time. But I was able to make it from point A to point B several times – fully upright. And I was SO incredibly proud of myself. I looked over and saw my kids zipping by on the slope beside me. I heard them calling out ‘aren’t you going to come over to the big mountain’. And I was overwhelmed because I had conquered a big mountain – big to me, but conquered nonetheless. Yes, we know that grief is something God allows. We know that He gives us encouragement in how to process it, but He also is gracious in ultimately providing us a way through it. 

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

While grief is universal – the process through it is unique. We can’t compare our grief to others. We can’t look at someone else’s timeline or their process as the measure of what we have to do and how quickly. The Lord may have a completely different time frame in mind for you. The timeline may be short, may be easy and may be filled with few obstacles. The timeline may be long and unending this side of glory, and filled with nothing but obstacles – but it will come to an end. The guarantee that we have is that it has purpose, He will walk through it with us and bring us to a place of hope and healing. For whatever you are grieving, for what you may come to grieve, for the grief that still tries to rear its head know that “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 

Praying for you friend!

A Matter of Time


We were on our way to our 20 week check-up. It was the appointment where we would get to find out – boy or girl. There were mixed emotions and hopes as we arrived – a buddy for our Isaac would be fun; the prospect of a mini-me…would be scary. Will they be able to tell? Would Chris cry? How would I respond? The ultrasound was underway and amidst an amazing display of technology (giving us a sneak peek of the little one inside me)…the technician remained silent. Asked if we wanted to know…the word ‘girl’ poured over the room in a crashing wave. Chris teared up – my mind raced – a baby girl. We smiled, we giggled…the tech remained silent. We were soon escorted into an office where we were met with the very somber face of an often jovial man. I have no clue what all he said in the moment – I only captured phrases like ‘never seen this before’, ‘cannot see crucial organs’, ‘unsure of survival’ and then we were escorted out a back door so no one would see me crying. No other answers would come for over a week, where after a more in-depth ultrasound, we were given the option to abort. Shocked that we declined, doctors gave us an unsure ending to this pregnancy. That is when my Christopher assured me that whether here on Earth or in heaven – we had been blessed to be called to be her parents and love her always. Peace washed over and trust in an unknown began. It was all just a matter of time. 

As the weeks passed…the Lord moved, He healed, and 13 years ago – today – a beautiful, determined, passionate, strong-willed, dramatic, artistic, big-hearted and healthy baby girl entered this world – forever rocking mine.

For a large majority of her childhood, Lacie has been a fighter. She fought being loved. She fought herself and the poor choices a poor attitude often brought her. She fought any and all figures of authority. Wrong someone she loved, however, and that fight would become deeply personal. From her earliest days I have been confident that the spiritual warfare that so engrossed my baby girl was because Satan was scared witless by her. He has come at her thoughts, her attitude and her heart mercilessly over these last 13 years because he knew that if she decided to cling to Jesus…then Satan was in trouble because all that fight would be directed his way. Only it wasn’t a matter of if but when – yes, it too was just a matter of time. Just a few days ago, Lacie sent the following message to me – something she had written and sent to encourage the girls in her small group. Something she sent to encourage me and something she has given me permission to now send to encourage you. 

“So I have been thinking a lot recently, and mostly about time. Like time on earth, and the time I get to spend with people – you know just time. Also recently I have discovered how much I miss my papa which brought me to this thinking of time. So I looked and I saw that wow I’m almost 13. What happened to the 13 years I have been on this earth? Sure there are memories, but it went by so fast. As I said we only live here for this amount of time .  So I experimented. I drew all day yesterday, and before I knew it – it was dark.  Time had gone by so fast.  I went downstairs and my brother asked me to play with him but I said no. Then my dad told me to play with him for at least 5 minutes – so I did. Before I knew it we were in a nerf gun war and even dad joined in. It was awesome! I hit dad in the head MULTIPLE times – great! After we cleaned up, I couldn’t help but say how fun it is to play with these people. If dad didn’t stop me- I wouldn’t have had such an amazing time. 

Time…. TIME! That’s when I saw it! Wednesday we were coming home from FUSE I had asked for ice cream (because I’m obsessed with the stuff) but dad said no because we needed to eat first. So I said ok and closed my eyes. When I opened them we were at Sonic and was like…what!?! He asked me what I would like and he got it for me.  

Time…. love… I realized how much I am loved by my mom who was there for every performance. She rushed from a airport just to see me on stage. Dad gave me ice cream even though he had said no. He wakes me up every morning to run. He always says nice things about me even when I’m a mess. I feel guilty. I feel like I don’t do enough to show them I love them. But realization comes over me that they DO know I love them – because it shows.

Time, love,…. music! A song! One of my favorites says  “how you live to how you die love is sacrifice. Let my life be the proof, the proof of your love”  Love is sacrifice. Dad sacrificed his money to give me ice cream. He sacrifices time from watching a movie to playing with us instead. Mom sacrifices her time just so that she can give me a hug or talk to me. All this made me realize that time is precious. It goes by so fast and if you don’t do something about it…. soon someone you love will be gone… your best friend will be gone… your time to spend time with others gone. It will all be gone if you don’t get off your phone when people want to talk to you. It will gone when you don’t pay attention in class and you get a bad grade. It will be gone when you start your project and finish it last minute. You wasted time. And then later on you will regret it. Gosh I wish I had gotten off the computer to talk to papa more – if only I had more time. NO! I did have time I just made that decision – that’s on me! In Hamilton! Elisa took her time to tell his story when he died- she stopped wasting time! 

People, seriously take the time to go tell your family how much you love them. Take the time to play with your brothers or your dog! Take the time to spread the word because that is why God put us on this earth in the first place!!!TAKE THE TIME RIGhT NOW!!!! Because before you know it….. it will be gone… time will run out one day…. and then you will think – did you do enough? You know, did you spread the word until you can’t breath anymore? Did you serve God’s purpose? Please look now because later you are going to look back and say wow what happened, I’m already 50 and I’ve wasted so much time! Take the time to love on people otherwise it will be too late and I know how that feels! I feel the regret!!! So I now know I can’t make the same mistake! Soon and I don’t know when but my grandma will die, my “Grandma Grape” will die and many others – so I need to use my time, sacrifice my time, to give it to others. Others who can’t see the good, who can’t see that they are running out of time!!! I’m serious! Don’t. Waste. Time. It’s too precious. You must do something now before it’s too late! So what are you doing? GO back to school. GO back to work. GO back to your family. GO put this phone down and enjoy company while it’s here. If not, you are going to miss out on what Hof had for you and how He can use you!!! Go love on those who disrespect you. Go love on those who don’t love you back. They need your time and energy please!!!! Again it will be gone before you know it. GO!”

So, from a young lady who was first looked at as completely broken, whose very existence was in question and who many first tried to discount before she ever took her first breath…comes hope and encouragement. Yes, from a young lady who has spent the majority of the life she was given fighting anger and frustration, fighting authority and constantly questioning how God could love one like her, comes inspiration and a challenge. Yes, from my beautiful (and brand new) teenage girl, comes a reminder of what God can do, what He hopes and wants to do – if we would just give Him ourselves, our lives, and yes, our time. Her challenge here is very reminiscent of a passage out of Proverbs “How long will you lie there, you lazy person? When will you get up from sleeping? You sleep a little; you take a nap. You fold your hands and lie down to rest. So you will be as poor as if you had been robbed; you will have as little as if you had been held up.” (6:9-11) Our call is clear and our time is fleeting. If you don’t call Jesus Lord – now is the time. If you claim to be His, but aren’t loving others as He would – now is the time. If you aren’t living the life He has purposed for you – rise up – it is time. May the words of my sweet girl, and even more so the words of my gracious God – become your prayer today. “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered–how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath,” Psalm 39:4-5 so that I might say “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8. May this reminder call you to action today – for if a young teenage girl can rise to the occasion surely you and I can too.

Selling a House


A4779D99-13EF-4829-82E3-D919F18E157ADid you know that sharing your faith, hope and love in Jesus is not just for the good moments? Over and over in scripture, we are told that we are going to encounter hard times, difficult moments, trials of many kinds. They aren’t quantified with a length of time, a duration of dates, or even a description defining what to expect. We are just told, both plainly and obscurely, that things are going to be tough. 

For a multitude of reasons, far too many to unfold here, this has been one of those seasons for me. Many difficult moments filled with many various trials, all strung together with head-pounding uncertainties. Among those has been our decision to move.

About a year ago, Chris began interviewing with a different company and at the start of 2019, began a new job with an entirely different kind of schedule and routine. While he travels each month, he now predominantly works out of the house. We have a small area for him to do so, but it wasn’t really designed to be used that way (converted closet with no ac/heat piped in). This coupled with the fact that when we moved to SC, Isaac was only 2 and I had only just found out I was pregnant with Lacie days before the moving van pulled out Kentucky, was something of a problem. When we moved into our current home, we had no idea that we would ultimately be blessed with four spice kids. Nor did we factor in that any amount of kids we did have would get bigger. 😉 So space in our home has maxed and a pull on our heart to move was growing. Chris and I being…well, Chris and I…realized in January that if a move was going to happen we would need a plan. We mapped out things we would need to work on, calendared it all out and then laid it down and prayed if this was what were supposed to do. From moment one, we prayed asking the Lord to help us understand if moving was something He had for us or just something we were trying to make happen. We pulled out the list, amazingly found time (and energy) to attack all of our projects and before we knew it we were ready to have our house ‘go live’. It was so clear that moving was what the Lord was asking us to do. The only problem…we had no idea where we would be going. As the months of renovations were underway, we searched, talked, argued, searched some more and slowly began to narrow in on what we were hoping for and what would work for us as a family. The Lord allowed various things to happen to help confirm that the area we had settled on was in fact the right place, but literally nothing – no house seemed to fit the bill. Until the week we went to put our house on the market. That week, the ‘perfect’ house became available. It had everything – the right school district, the right size, the right space – it was perfect, it was beautiful. We found out that the family selling that house was not going to consider any contingencies (like waiting on the buyer to sell their house) so our realtors went into action – confident in the appeal of our home they moved quickly to get our house on the market. We had visited this house on Tuesday, put our house for sale on Wednesday – and were rejected hard on Thursday. The family held true to their decision – they weren’t taking anyone with contingencies and they didn’t. Another offer came into them on that Thursday and they scooped it up. Chris and I were crushed – seriously…it was a bad day here at the Spice Rack. We were so confused. We had spent almost a year – heavily searching. This was the first real something – that just ‘happened’ to come up the week were planning to put ours up for sale? We have never said anything to each other – still haven’t really – but we both believed that was gonna be our awesome God moment in this leg of our journey. ‘I don’t get it God…why? Why dangle something in front of us that wasn’t meant for us? Why give us that glimmer of hope when that wasn’t the plan? Holy cow…why is there still a ‘for sale’ sign in my yard?’ were just a few of the things that floated through my head on repeat. We knew God was calling us to sell – He confirmed that many times. So what were we missing?

Our house went on the market on a Wednesday…within five days, we had seven showings and three offers; one that came in under asking, one right on the money, and one that actually went above the amount we had asked. Less than seven days after putting a sign in our yard, a contract was signed and wheels were in motion. And I waited. I waited for Him to drop a new house out of nowhere. I waited to have my ‘victory in Jesus’ moment to share. I waited for that ‘dream’ house’s deal to fall through. I mean come on – God wouldn’t call us to do something and then not finish that up, not give us any indication of what to do or where to go. God wouldn’t do that.  <Insert almost every Bible story in scripture>
In the last few weeks, God has allowed a home inspection to come back with minimal requests and minor money to be spent. He has allowed an inspection to take place and the house to pass that inspection – even at the higher price. He has given us a contract deal that doesn’t come to a close until December 6. It cannot be denied that God’s hand has been all over the selling of our home. And I have been completely silent about it. I haven’t openly rejoiced Him. I haven’t really even shared this with those I know. See there isn’t a completion to the story. There isn’t an answer to the repeated – and obvious question – where are you moving? So my silence has helped me avoid having to even go there.
And I have been foolish.
I have been painfully human in my fears and worries. I have been sad over silly things like toys I packed from the kids rooms that they are missing and want to play with. Sad over the question of will I be able to decorate for Christmas this year? Fearful over what happens when December 6 comes and we still don’t have a house. God calls us to praise Him even in the storm, through the worries, in the midst of the fears. He asks us to trust that He is a God who never lies. He asks us to keep our eyes on Him even when everything around us seems so unnerving. I suddenly understand how Peter started walking out to Jesus on that water just fine, but when it didn’t quite go as he thought and he saw the waves and processed what that should mean – I get why he began to sink. I understand why the other 10 spies discounted Caleb and Joshua – so focused on the enormity of the people of Ca’naan and that they said ‘no way’. I understand why Zechariah questioned a child at his age even though he had been asking for one. I get it when Moses heard God’s entire plan to set His people free and still made the request ‘please send someone else’. I understand their weaknesses and their fears. God has shown me that His hand is in all of this. He has allowed me to help my kids navigate a first hand object lesson in trusting what you cannot see and leaning not on our own understanding. He is absolutely to be praised – right now – in the middle of it all – even when it doesn’t make sense, even though there are still so many question marks. See, He allows these moments intentionally. It is easy to praise Him when it all works out. It is exciting to share Him when we have beautiful stories and sweet endings. But in the middle of the thing…where we are a hot mess, completely clueless? Yes, even then we are to praise Him, glorify Him and share Him. My biggest prayer right now is to tap into my inner Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who proclaimed, “the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us” – they were so confident – confident enough to follow that with “But even if He does not…” The God I serve has a plan for my sweet family. He has a neighborhood in mind. A mission field in preparation right now even as I type. The God I serve cares so deeply about the details of my heart…knows the fears that well up within my kids, knows the concerns that sweep over my man. He has already shown us His awesomeness in the twelve years we’ve done life within these walls. Of course, He will not leave us. He hasn’t opened this door only to slam it back on us. At the right time, in the right way, He will complete this process He has started and even in my weakest moments – I will praise Him. 
Whatever your uncertainty, your fear, your struggle, He has not left you. He is ready to help you navigate through. And though you might not have answers, though you have days where the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s’ near take you down…praise Him. Praise Him for the lesson in it all. Praise Him you don’t walk it alone. Praise Him when your scared. Praise when you’re heartbroken. Praise Him when you’re angry. Praise Him when you’re lost. Praise when you’re worn slap out. Praise Him for His patience. Praise Him for His forgiveness. Praise Him for His plan. Praise Him for His love. Praise Him in the question marks. Praise Him in the silence. Praise Him through the tears. Praise Him. He has not left you. He has not brought you to this place to leave you stranded. He has a plan. He is at work. Praise Him. 

You Can Learn a Lot from a Cat

You Can Learn a Lot from a Cat

This season has been one, I pray, that my Lacie will not soon forget. She has had the unique opportunity to take her love for the stage, and experience it in a variety of venues. In an odd twist of timing she has been working on three musicals simultaneously; one through church, one through school, and one through our community theatre. Each one building on the love and pure natural desire of a girl designed to be on the stage, but each vastly different. While there is much my heart could share of the ugliness she experienced through one, and the familiarity she has enjoyed through another – it is the lessons that this mama has learned through that of a ‘cat’ that I lay out here.


  1. A peron’s a person no matter how small. IMG_4608The whole reason that we even tried out for ‘Seussical’ was purely for the experience of a ‘real’ audition. Though not at all a stranger to the stage or to the spot light – auditioning was something of an unknown. We had long conversations about it, but never followed those up with the likelihood that a part would be on the other side of that process. So when she got the role of a ‘who’ – she was over the moon. She never used words like ‘I’m only a who’ or ‘I wish I were a ______’ – she basked in the excitement to just get to be a part of the show. Every single practice…every…single…practice…she came bouncing out to the car so excited and so pumped up! I would immediately hear things like ‘you should hear Sour Kangaroo – she has THE best voice’, ‘The Cat is so great at her role, mom’, ‘You would love Gertrude – she is doing amazing’ and on and on. She was so proud of each of them…she loved them like family. The role that she herself played – she poured herself into. (Now, I acknowledge my motherly bias…but it is always hard to miss my Lacie when she’s on the stage. She beams…she radiates.) Her focus was always – ‘I am a part of something big.’ It was never the size of the part, but absolutely the love of what she was doing. Through this attitude, I found myself quickly challenged about how often I get frustrated with theIMG_4395 role that I play in this world. I fuss that I want a different part. I wish I had a few less dramatic scenes or was one that others looked to and said ‘she is my favorite.’ I’ve been challenged with the question – what if I just embraced the role I’ve been given – and simply poured myself into it? What if instead of wishing for something more or different, I encouraged those around me, and just lived excited to just get to be a part of the story.
  2. Oh the things you can think. Turns out that I was assigned a part in the musical as well; the role of hair and make-up to my sweet who. Off the cuff, I had no clue on how to do either (non-girlie girl here), but soon figured out a plan. On average, it took me about 45 minutes to create her hair and about 15 for the make-up. Then another 30 to undo it all at the end of the day. With so much time together, we soon began having beautiful heart-to-hearts, laughing together, singing loudly together, and just enjoying each other’s company in a way we hadn’t before. For the schedule our family keeps – long heart-to-hearts aren’t always likely to happen, but something so sweet was beginning to happen because of them. A few performances in though and I noticed that some of the hair on the other ‘whos’ was a bit more simple and for a hot second I re-evaluated my approach to turning Lace into a ‘who’. I could have gone more simple, I could have short-cutted easily…but oh what I would have missed out on. The thought left my head as quickly as it came and what resulted were some of the sweetest moments of conversation, laughter, connectedness and love than the two of us had really ever experienced together. We hear the word ‘shortcut’ and often think that it will be great – oh the the things that we think – but some journeys should definitely be experienced by taking the scenic route. So 275 pipe cleaners and just shy of 18 hours later – the choice to embrace ‘who’ hair was one I will never regret.
  3. Alone in the universe? As a place of honesty, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when embarking on community theatre. It was a ‘we’re about to step into the real world’ kind of feeling. Concerns over her safety, over how she would be treated, over what she might be exposed to washed over me hard, before we ever said yes to this adventure. But then I had to remember Who my ‘who’ belonged to. From the very first audition, Lacie and I talked that if she got a role in this musical it would be because God was opening a door for her. (Now from my experience, God isn’t usually in the business of cracking doors – they are either solidly closed or flung wide open. He is also not in the business of opening doors that He doesn’t intend to walk through with you.) With this in mind, I knew that no matter what she experienced it was something He had purposed just for her. Again, being honest, I was prepared for a more negative experience for her. (I did childhood theatre and will forever remember director, Una Harrison, with her wild hair, tight leather pants, 4 inch red heels, British accent and idioms, and unbendable demand for perfection. Woo!) I had several negative scenarios mapped out in my head; pep-talks were on the ready. But much like a sour kangaroo baffled by one that would think different than herself – I could never have imagined the experiences my girl would actually encounter; a cast that she would come to love as family, a bond that would deepen for the two of us or the unexpected example of Christ in the form of a cat. Yes, you read that last part correctly. At a time when Lacie has questioned how God could really love one like her…a self-proclaimed small speck in this great big world…one wired differently than those around her…one who certainly has felt alone in the universe…He brought into her world beautiful examples of a life lived in Him. He placed in front of her someone who would gently listen and sweetly encourage. Someone who would point her to Him both by example and by a few simple conversations. I say it often – but anytime you look for God, He can always be found…but even I was surprised by the way He showed up for my girl (His girl). IMG_4913

Who knew that a simple audition would unravel all of the opportunities for adventure, growth, and love for one young girl. Who knew this journey would also have so much affect on her mama. From over here in my spot in the seats, I have been challenged in my day-to-day role, challenged in my role as a mama, challenged in my relationship with the Lord, challenged that no matter what may go on behind the scenes – that what I live out is true, authentic, infectious. May I be more consumed by how I play a part in the story regardless of how many even notice that I’m in it. May I be mindful of the moments that come, not trying to blow past them, not trying to make them fit into the mold of what is quick and easy…but experiencing them in such a way that allows the story to unfold deeper and more beautifully. May my relationship with the Lord be evident and my heart always eager to share His love. This experience was beyond what I could have hoped for, for my Lacie, and one that has uniquely resonated in me.  IMG_4601

An Unlikely View…a Different Review


untitledAs I sit here this evening – I am overwhelmed with words and emotion and yet unsure how to express either. Days ago, I walked into a movie theater to view a movie I had been excited about since I had first heard it was in the works. Beauty and the Beast. I was 15 years old when the animated version came out. I remember watching it with my sister when she was home on break from college. I remember at the time feeling so moved by such a beautiful movie. The story hit me personally somehow; the music moved me; the characters impacted me. I remember even then thinking – how can this beautifully crafted cartoon have such an affect on me? So to say that I was both excited and nervous about the live action version is a bit understated. Excited to revisit a favorite in a new way and yet nervous because what if they totally destroyed the story I loved so much (it is after all Hollywood, where that is pretty par for the course).

Weeks before the movie was to be released – the world suddenly seemed turned on it’s side – as various reports about additional elements in the movie began to spin. I listened and observed an anger rise up in many; I heard the actual cries of ‘kill the beast’ at the hint of an ugliness that may be present in the film. Based on little information – I saw decisions made, lines drawn, and judgments locked in. I began to research sources that I trusted, and their reviews didn’t seem to align with the many angry voices I kept hearing. So four days ago, with girlfriends in tow, I went to see this newest version of my all time favorite animated movie. It was overwhelming. The cinematography, the music, the costumes, the littlest details, the story. It was far more beautiful than I was prepared for. The story so true to the original and the additional elements that were laced in – so perfectly placed and rich. For as much as I was swept away and entrenched into this poor provincial town – I did view certain moments and characters through the lens of the reviews I had heard before walking into the theater. Did I notice anything? Was there an agenda? Was there a moment? Those things couldn’t help but cross through my mind – as I watched from the perspective of ‘mama’, ‘minister’ and even just ‘friend’ for I knew I would be questioned from each of these vantage points. As I processed, I was so very moved by the character in question; watching a transformation of heart and conscience change him – I felt so proud. Then watching a hopeless ‘beast’ understand where his choices had lead him and yet he was able to hope again and an absolute jerk of a character, who swayed the masses and yet never learned a thing…I cannot say enough.

IMG_3599I knew that I wanted to take my two oldest children – my 12 year old – who is wired just like his mama with a deep heart and an overall love for theater and musicals; and my 9 year old, who has struggled thus far in life in often living out the role of Gaston more times than not. As we made our way to the theater, I had a little heart-to-heart with the kids. I asked them to do me a favor as they watched the movie tonight…I asked them to watch it with God in mind. I challenged them both to see if they could find any ‘God moments’ in the film. The opening monologue that spoke of there being no good in the beast – immediately had my 12 year old leaning over – saying ‘right there…that’s a God moment. Without God – there is no good in any of us’. The movie carried on and it soon got to the scene where the beast saves Belle from the wolves. My 9 year old leaned over and asked ‘why would he do that mama? why would he save her?’ – My simple answer in the moment was ‘because he is not evil’ – Her response ‘It’s God in us that would cause us to make decisions like that, isn’t it?’ Needless to say, I laid a challenge down to my kids and they both quickly affirmed they were up for that challenge. I soon began to look at the movie through this lens as well. Can I tell you how even more remarkably beautiful this movie became with God in mind?

free in christAs we walked out of the theater – my oldest was choked up. ‘Mom…the scene where the beast changes back to a man. That’s what happens when we give our hearts to Christ. The bad choices we made, the ugliness that may have been all over us – is cleared away. We are made new in Him.’ My Lacie chimed in ‘Mama, he had no hope. He thought he would be a beast forever – but with love he found that hope. That’s God, right? If God is love, we can find our hope in him, right?’ Back to my oldest…’The character of Gaston was a lot like Satan. Satan often makes himself look ‘beautiful’ but there is no good in him. There was no good in Gaston – none – and yet everyone (except a few) were swayed by his appearance. What a scary realization that so many can be so easily swayed by the enemy.’ The conversation continued the entire way home.

This movie was not created to be a catalyst for the gospel. It was not designed with an agenda to lead people to the cross or challenge them in their walk with the Lord…and yet that is exactly what our family took away. Was there sin in the movie – yes. There was a hateful man that treated women and men like the dirt beneath his feet, who lied, who abused, who lifted himself above everyone else. There was the inclusion of magic, of prejudice, the belittling of women, the hint of homosexuality, the abuse of the elderly, the worship of idols to name just a few. Not a one of these sins greater than the next; not a one less ungodly than the the other. None of them so blatant – all just a piece of the tapestry of the film. As a mama, I had a choice. I could have pointed out all of these things to my children before going into the theater.I could have painted a picture of hating all of these things and they would have watched the movie through that lens – absolutely. Instead, I asked them to view with God in mind. They did observe those same things, these sinful moments, but with the perspective of God in mind they viewed them with a broken heart, from a place of understanding our need for Jesus in this world. My little girl hopeful that she too would come to a place where she trusted the hope that is in Jesus – that she doesn’t have to be a ‘beast ‘ forever. My oldest challenged in his faith, strengthened in his walk. Their mama moved beyond what she can adequately express.

The lessons I gleaned with God in mind tonight…are too many to elaborate on in an already long message. However, in one of the new songs written for this version of Beauty and the Beast – the words read ‘Love is beauty, love is pure. Love pays no mind to desolation. It flows like a river through the soul. Protects, proceeds, and perseveres and makes us whole.’ How can we not see God in those words?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

I will simply say … when we look for evil, we will find it – every time. It won’t be hard to find and we won’t even have to look too deep…if humans are a part…sin will be present. When we look for God – He can and will be found. Every time. Put that lens of ‘looking for Him’ on – it is amazing what He will allow you to see.

How to free a hummingbird…


IMG_6516About 4:00pm on Tuesday, I was getting ready to prepare dinner – homemade lasagna night! 😉 Got all of the ingredients out and realized that we had used all of the cheese on taco night the evening before. Cheese is a pretty crucial ingredient when cooking lasagna and I had already gotten it locked in my head that this is what we were having so I loaded up the kids and started off to the store. I had gotten as far as our neighbor’s house when I heard my, then, sweet four year old say – ‘I don’t have shoes.’ Sigh. Brakes. Garage door open. Out he runs as fast as his little legs could take him and just as fast he was back – shoes in hand – yes, hand – but at least we had them. Around 20 minutes later we were back at the house and to my surprise the garage door was open. Somehow with the in-and-out of my little man, I had not closed it as I pulled out. Oops.

As I drove into the garage, Isaac matter of factly said, ‘Mom, there’s a hummingbird in the garage.’ To which I quickly responded ‘No there isn’t!’ Several rounds of this back and forth commenced until I finally got out and looked at our ceiling and brilliantly said, ‘There’s a hummingbird IN our garage.’ Bless this sweet hummingbird’s heart – he was so very scared and so very dumb. As we began to watch him (and of course name him – Squeakers), he just kept flying to the ceiling. He kept looking up, hitting his head on the ceiling – over and over and over. I tried countless things to try and get him out – even pulling the car back out of the garage so that nothing would block his exit out. None of this worked. He just continued to flutter across the ceiling. Soon my concern for him melting in the heat of my garage became frustration over how dumb a bird are you? There is a massive opening a foot below you – and you won’t look down and go out?!? Dumb bird!Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 10.09.55 PM


A few days ago, I shared this story with some friends and did so from the perspective of a mama’s role in leading her children. But as I work my way through the book of James, stumbling onto today’s verses in James 2:12-13 – ‘Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.’ I suddenly see this real life illustration played out in a much different way. It was roughly 95 degrees in our garage that day. I tried for several hours to encourage this bird to get out and no matter what I attempted to do – he continued to hit his head on the ceiling or hide on top of the garage door. I wanted him to be free. I knew that the conditions he was currently in would literally be the death of him. My approach began gentle and sweet, but as time ticked by and my dinner began to get delayed – I began to just get frustrated. And yes, even coming to that moment of ‘well if you want to stay in the garage and get hungry, hot and die – that’s on you bird!’ But instead of leaving him to his own demise, I Googled ‘how to remove a hummingbird from your garage.’ First words were ‘It is very easy to remove a hummingbird from your garage.’ Like poo it is – we’ve been at it for over two hours and that stinker is still hanging out in there! But with simple suggestions of being mindful of it’s fears, helping to create a focus, and having everything point clearly to the light outside that gives freedom – he will quickly leave. We removed the kids, set out red objects to help focus it’s attention, kicked on the headlights and soon he flew right out. When I tried to get in the way, with my attempts of freeing it – it only scared it more and sent it flying in the wrong direction. When I gave up, judging it as a dumb bird – it gave up and just sat – still stuck – in our garage. But when I realized that I wasn’t going to be the thing that saved it and set it free…when I realized that my attempts were only condemning it – I knew I had to change my approach. 

My approach with people has to change as well. I am not to judge, not to think I know what is best for what will set them free or that I can help them see the light. Did you catch verse 12? God’s law is what gives freedom. If I judge others, if I intervene with my opinions and thoughts, I’m not extending grace or mercy and may very well be sending them in the very opposite direction. Mercy triumphs over judgement. Stop casting judgement, start showing mercy. Thank you ‘Squeakers’ for this reminder!

My prayer for Today…

IMG_6513Lord – It is such a temptation to want to cast judgment on others. It is so easy to think my words or opinions could be THE thing that will help someone else see the light. Woo, glory forgive me for those moments of such arrogance and pride. May I never forget that I will never see all of what is going on in the heart and life of that other person. I may not – but you do. May I realize that my words, my actions, my judgements may in fact turn them off to Christ. But mercy Lord! That is what you’ve called me to. ‘Mercy’ – compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone
whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. My words could so easily hurt, my actions could so easily punish…but that is not what you called me to. You in fact say that you’ve got that covered. Mercy – compassion over punishment; forgiveness over harm. Glory Lord. May I love them as you’ve called me to – you are the one that will teach them the lessons they need to
learn; you are the one that will challenge them, grow them and refine them. May I not just listen to these words Lord – may I DO them. Thank you for the mercy you have continually shown to me Lord. Continually! Love you so greatly! In Jesus name – Amen!

How to be His girl…


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The church I grew up in…

The home that I grew up in was fractured at best. I was a preacher’s kid. My father preached and my mother lead the choir. At church we were always dressed in our Sunday best, always smiling. We had to look the part and in most cases I believe we pulled that off. We had to keep superficial relationships, but even those remained at arms length because to get too close meant you might see imperfection, you might see chaos, hurt, anger, loneliness and levels of dysfunction too deep and painful to speak of here. What went on within the four walls that we called home was nothing of what was seen at church on Sunday…not even a shadow of the truth because we were a ‘religious’ family. We hid behind our title, we made sure that we did all of the right things and had all of the right appearances, most of all we made it a point to never tell the truth of what home life was like to anyone. Part of keeping up with those appearances was not only in what we didn’t say it was in what we didn’t do. We were religious…so that meant no joining the band, no going to parties, no real friendships with anyone ‘unchurched’, to name a mere few. There was never an option ‘to be real’ but always – always – we were to have it together. Somehow my parents, and many of their generation, thought they were adhering to these verses found in James – ‘Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:26-27  They thought that by avoiding or ignoring the things of this world that was ‘keeping oneself from being polluted by the world.’ But that is NOT what James means here. How did they miss such obvious truth?

It has taken many painful years to learn to be genuine, to learn that ‘being religious’ is not the goal. I do not have it together -and to try to spend all of my time trying to convince you I do and not be concerned about your heart or your walk is foolish, and that time worthless. This is such a tender subject to me as it brings up childhood memories I would very much like left hidden away, but it is a subject that still rears it’s head up even today. Praise the Lord…let me say that one more time…PRAISE the LORD that He brought me out of that home and into a true understanding of what being His entails.

James concludes his thought by simply expressing that we need to be compassionate down to the ones who are at the lowest and most vulnerable position. That means we’re gonna have to get our hands dirty and we’re gonna have to risk our own hearts for the heart of another. Here is my paraphrasing – ‘You say you love Jesus. You say he is in your heart and who you live your life for. If that’s true that’s gonna be evident in how you live, how you love, how you accept, how you forgive, how you’re compassionate. It’s more than talk. If you’re just talking the talk – be quiet. If it is genuine – it will be evident by how it pours out of you. It’s gonna mean that you’re gonna have to step down from your high horse and get down and dirty. When you do get out in the world – to love the unloved, to encourage the broken, to hold the abandoned, to protect the insecure…protect your heart. In your attempts to love those of the world…don’t fall victim yourself.’ James NEVER says don’t be in the world. He NEVER says don’t reach out to the world. Just merely – remember that when you have faith in Jesus, he goes with you, he’s in you – don’t pollute that, don’t lose that, don’t neglect that hope. It’s not about being religious. It’s not about following an endless list of do’s and don’ts. It’s not about appearances. It’s about loving a God who is crazy in love with us. It’s about taking that love into the world. It’s about holding tight to Him so that the world that wants to suck us in can never get that grip. May we stop desiring to be religious and just desire to be His!

My prayer for Today…

Lord…this subject hits such a tender nerve with me.   Lord, at the end of the day…I want nothing more than to be your girl. I want to be a genuine reflection of the relationship that I have with you; loving others as you would love them, spreading the truth of your great love. I desperately long to lose the title of ‘religious’ and just simply be ‘yours’. Help me where I stumble…hold me when I fall. I love you…Amen.

Even in the Shadows


shadows‘Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.’ James 1:16-18 NIV

Today, if you will humor me, I just want to look at the simplicity of these verses.

Every good and perfect gift is from above…how often do we try to chalk things up to coincidence, or attach some other ‘thing’ to it…when clearly, plainly – the things we experience, the things gifted to us are from Him; simply from Him…for us.

Our Father in heaven – does not change like shifting shadows…how often do we humanize God? There are countless people…most people I would dare say…that we encounter who, in time seem to change like a shifting shadow. Their expectations don’t get met. They get bored or uncomfortable. We begin to go in a direction that they don’t desire to go in. They say one thing, but do another. Their behavior completely changes like shifting shadows…and whether intentionally or not, we begin to think that God operates in much the same way. ‘Sure he’s giving us something good now, but it won’t last. He’ll go away; He’ll take it away; He’ll expect something I can’t give,’ and the list goes on.

The word of truth…the Bible we hold in our hands, scroll through on our phones, study in moments of quiet, look to in moments of desperation, sing to in times of worship – His Word, His Scripture…is truth.

Why is it so easy for us to discount what the Lord is doing? Why is so easy to think less of Him than we should? When He allows something good in our life, why do we quietly wait for ‘the catch’ or for the bottom to just suddenly fall out. Why do we sing of how great His love is, but when we are at our worst, feel He could never really love us. Why can be believe some aspects of the Bible (he was born of a virgin, he died on a cross, he rose again), but we question when it says that he takes great delight in us. I don’t know about you , but when I’m at my lowest…when the trials are most painful and the temptations are great…my ‘go to’ question can tend to be ‘God, where are you?’ Today I want to take one of His most precious gifts, His Word, His truth, and see that when He says He does not change like shifting shadows – He backs that truth up again and again. He means what He says. You may be tempted to skip through these…but I challenge you to read each one and allow the truth, the promise and the hope to resonate within you.

He never changes…He is from everlasting to everlasting…

  • Malachi 3:6 – I the Lord do not change.
  • Psalm 90:1-2 – Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
  • Nehemiah 9:5b – Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.
  • Isaiah 40:28 – Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

He is eternal…forever…lasting from generation to generation…

  • Jeremiah 10:10 – But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.
  • Daniel 6:26 – I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and
    reverence the God of Daniel. ‘For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.’
  • Lamentations 5:19 – You, LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.
  • Matthew 24:35 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:18 – So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
  • Psalm 100:5 – For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

He is the I AM…yesterday, today, forever…

  • Exodus 3:14a – ‘God said to Moses, ‘I AM who I AM.’
  • Revelation 1:8 – ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’
  • Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
  • Psalm 102:25-27 – In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.

He is our rock…our firm foundation…

  • Psalm 18:2 – The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Deuteronomy 32:4 – He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
  • Psalm 40:2 – He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
  • Colossians 1:17 – He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
  • 2 Timothy 2:19 – Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’

He never fails…He never leaves

  • Luke 1:37 – For no word from God will ever fail.
  • Isaiah 14:24 – The LORD Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.’
  • Matthew 28:20b – And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
  • Hebrews 13:5b – Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
  • Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
  • Isaiah 43:2-3a – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God.

How often the enemy tries to deceive and tell us something so different from what you see above. How awesome that this list does not even skim the surface of what scripture says about the unending, consistent, solid, powerful, and eternal God that we love and who loves us! What a beautiful reminder of a wonderful God who’s crazy about someone like me…like you. Hoping you are soaking Him in today!

My prayer for Today…

My precious Savior, how I love you. Lord, you have brought me through some exceedingly difficult times. Challenges and changes that I could never have envisioned have quickly and quietly snuck in and out over few years. And Lord, while in my head I know you say you love me and that you will be my refuge, my strength, one that will not leave me – how many times have I questioned – where are you? How patient you are with me. Thank you for the gift of your Word. What I read in one place, you back up in another. What I question, you confirm again and again. I have seen, even just this week, people who operate like shifting shadows. I’ve seen hypocrisy at it’s finest. May I not take those experiences that I’ve witnessed and presume that you would dare operate in the same fashion. What you say – you do. What you promise – you fulfill. No shifting. Nothing hidden in the shadows. You are who you say are. You do what you say you will do. Help me to continue to remember that as truth! What greater reason to find joy! To my friend reading with me today – in the good times or bad, may they hold to the truth of your word. May they find rest in you, hope in your word, joy in your truth. When they don’t have answers, may they look to your Word. When they are discouraged or down, may they trust that they can hide themselves in you. Where even in the shadows you stand strong. Thank you Lord. In Jesus’ sweet name – Amen!

Are you kidding me?


evaporatingdishHave you ever done something completely stupid? Not just a ‘that was dumb’ kind of moment, but an all out ‘where on earth did my brain go’ kind of moment? If you can’t seem to recall such a time then you are a liar…shame on you! 😉 My problem isn’t that I have to answer that question with a big ol’ ‘you know it’; the problem is narrowing down which of those were in fact the stupidest. Out of the blue this morning, one such moment quickly came flooding back to mind…

When I was in school, without question, I detested science. There was not a single grade level where I found it enjoyable; there was not a single facet that I wanted to engage in. Science made me want to be physically ill. It was because of this hatred that I intentionally put off taking Chemistry until my senior year in high school. Chemistry, in my opinion, is just the most evil of all the sciences but unfortunately one of those necessary evils to get to graduation. I held off taking it until my senior year for one very specific reason though – the ability to exempt the final exams. As you can see, I came at it with a distinct plan in mind. I was ready to attack it. The third day of my senior year we were preparing to do our very first experiment. Beakers were out, test tubes, the bunsen burner, goggles – the works. I have no clue what we were testing, but I remember we had to assemble the stand for our beaker to sit on. We had to light the burner and then, using these big old tongs, carefully place the beaker over the little flame. All was going great – I made my little notations, I did my little measurements, I was rocking this experiment – take that ‘science’, I’m kickin’ butt here. When I had completed my assignment, I then had to go about the task of taking my station back down and putting everything away. I diligently went about snuffing the fire out, putting my goggles away, and cleaning up the beakers and tubes, leaving the bunsen burner for last. I so carefully used the tongs to take the beaker down thinking the whole time ‘be careful – this is going to be hot.’ Slowly I was able to get the steaming glass over to the sink and breathed a huge sigh of relief that I had made that transition without burning myself or spilling the scolding hot contents all over. I went back to take the bunsen burner and ring stand apart and as I was mentally patting myself on the back, I grabbed ahold of the metal ring that the beaker had been sitting on. Did you catch that? I reached out, with my bare hand, and grabbed the metal ring that had been supporting the glass beaker over the hot fire. Interesting fact – when heating a beaker, anything that the beaker may be sitting on will also get hot. I had so carefully removed that blasted beaker only to come back to my stand and grab ahold of the scolding hot ring it had been sitting on. Are you kidding me? One moment, I was as careful as could be, the next I had second degree burns on the entire palm of my left hand. Are…you…kidding me?!?

James 1:13-15…”When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Temptation! Here again, in this section of scripture, we see that James is just a cool guy. He has such a clear understanding of the human heart and mind. How we play the blame game; how we think way more highly of ourselves then we should. What I love is that for the first twelve verses he has really been addressing the idea of trials. The hardships and times of fear we face, that ultimately grow us stronger in the Lord. And then he ever so gently eases over into the idea of temptation – an area that we would rather just deny we struggle with and just say well, this is just the Lord too. But what we fail to get, and what James so pointedly is telling us here, is that trials (for the most part) are testings that happen on the outside, and temptations (for the most part) are the things happening on the inside. What he’s trying to drive home here is that if we aren’t careful, the testings on the outside may become temptations on the inside. Did you catch it? Read that again…if we aren’t careful the testings on the outside may very well become temptations on the inside.

When I was doing that experiment – all signs pointed out my need to be careful and that if I wasn’t I could get very hurt. I stayed alert to those signs for a little while, but then in my arrogance, in my stupidity of thinking I had done enough to stay safe, I fell right into getting hurt. That wasn’t the fault of my teacher. I couldn’t blame the students working around me. That was on me.

In the case of falling into temptation, there is always that gut reaction moment of wanting to blame God – we see that as far back as Genesis when Adam proclaimed…’That woman you put here with me…’, but as James states – God cannot be tempted and does not himself tempt us. Let’s face it – it’s so much easier to pass the blame then to face the reality. At any given time we could always try to make the argument that situations and things that other people do define us and cause us to act out on our temptations. But the Lord, has so graciously shown me the error of that thought process. In the same way that trials are a lifetime guarantee – temptations will always be along our path as well. If we don’t take seriously the danger that lies within those temptations (as James says, it will result in death) then we are walking a very dangerous line. That is why God so graciously left us His Word. He has placed scriptures, such as these powerful verses here in James, all throughout the Bible for us to learn and know, hear and understand, and most of all rely on in times where temptations want nothing more than to suck us in. We can try to say – I will never be able to stop…, we can claim that we make the choices we do because of the horrible upbringing we had…and we can stay trapped in a cycle that will do nothing but bring about death – but we are lying to ourselves. God however…, His word IS true. He IS the God from which everything comes. Every good and perfect gift IS from above. Even when that gift is wrapped in a trial that He helps us overcome. Even when that gift stays wrapped up for years, untouched by us. He IS a consistent God. He IS the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. When His word tells us of how he encouraged Moses to ‘Be strong and courageous’ to ‘not be afraid or terrified’, that ‘the LORD your God goes with you’ and ‘will never leave you or forsake you’. He is telling us those exact same words! And even when our friends struggle or our children seem to struggle, He will reach down and whisper those words in their ears as well. He does NOT change like shifting shadows! He IS all about loving us! Yes, there will be times where trials may tempt us to handle them in sin. Yes, there will be times that we make that choice. But praise God…no, I mean it PRAISE God that He loves us so much! Praise God that He stands ready to help us overcome that sin. Praise God that when we do fall, He is the one that picks us up. Praise God that we have been given the opportunity to live this life in the freedom of His grace and mercy and not bound in captivity.

It is not always easy. You know how that memory of my Chemistry catastrophe came to mind this morning? I was cooking on the stove. I had cooked up a little something  and in my haste to keep them from burning, moved them from the back burner where they had been cooking to the front that was nice and cool. In the rush of my putting the things together I sat my spatula too close to the back burner that had just been cooking – and burnt the top of my finger. I’ve walked this road before…and yet did it again! Are you kidding me?!?! Even if that is how you feel over the most gripping of temptations you face – where you thought you’d learned enough not to go there again…know that your God is not there trying to trip you up and make you fall – He is waiting to help pull you back up. There is such hope and so much joy to be found in that truth!

My prayer for Today…

Lord, I would so love to pretend like I am not faced with temptations and better yet would love to say I avoid all of the temptations that come my way. But… The enemy would love nothing more in those times where we fall into temptation, than to cloud our mind with thoughts that would question you, doubt you and be angry with you. Thank you Lord for the assurance that you would not tempt us into evil. Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us when we feel we are just too weak to resist a temptation or that we are a failure for having given in. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for the promise that you are working to make sure that we lack nothing. Thank you for being our rescuer. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your love. Thank you for mercies that are new every morning. When the fear of falling overwhelms, thank you for being our peace. So humbled by your love this morning. Thank you Lord. Amen.

Wisdom? I got this.


So trials are inevitable; they come as an attempt to strengthen our faith and bring us to a place of completion; we should consider that pure joy. One would think that, having barely touched the surface of the subject; James would really continue diving down deep into that subject. But that doesn’t exactly seem to be the case…check it out…”If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:5-8 So it seems we are taking a bit of a detour…or are we? At what point in our lives do we need wisdom more than in times of trial? When we are in a season of testing, is that not the time we most need counsel? In the face of these storms…when clearly scripture tells us to consider these times with a spirit of joy…there has to come the question, how? Wouldn’t you agree? So to whom are we asking that question?

As a society, I have to say, we have come up with some pretty creative ways to seek wisdom and counsel, affirmation and answers. Social media. This has become a great outlet to express what’s on our mind, to complain about our day, to ask for recommendations from everything from what to have for dinner to a good family doctor. We read of problems that others have expressed and even find ourselves scrolling through the responses that have come from people we don’t even know – just to see what others might have said. We are always looking for wisdom, for answers, for understanding. But James is ‘politely’ pointing out here that we are looking in the wrong place and with the wrong heart.

As I have pointed out before, Chris and I met when were quite young – just teenagers. Needless to say, the quick way in which we became so serious about each other did not exactly thrill Chris’ mom and therefore I was not a particular ‘fan favorite’ for quite some time (or at least that was my 17 year old perception). But in fairness, there were several things going against me. Chris was her firstborn. I lived eleven hours away. He was at a place where he needed to be making decisions on college, not a spouse…to name but a few. Now having a good relationship with his mom was very important to me, and I began to process ways that I could get into her good graces. This was never something that I prayed about. At no time did I ever get on my knees and ask the Lord for wisdom in how to find favor with Denise or how to build a real relationship with her. At the time, it seemed a silly prayer. If I was going to be in Chris’ life, by default I was going to be in hers so why pray for what was going to happen (Did I mention I was very young and clearly stupid at the time?). I wrestled with how to become close with Denise for a long time, and finally I came up with a brilliant, beyond brilliant plan. I was going to become an elementary school teacher. Denise was an elementary school teacher…how perfect would that be? We would have common ground, similar interests. I would be able to go to her for advice and talk through experiences with her and we would become close. I sought no other opinion, but merely stepped out and applied to college, making all the right preparations and choosing all the right classes that would set me up for a teaching degree. I even got a job at an elementary school as an instructional assistant. Perfection! Well, perfection…on paper…reality was something much more different. I struggled horribly with classes. I faced such internal struggles – ones that I could never quite put my finger on. By this point, Chris and I were married and were both working full-time jobs while going to school full-time – not exactly stress free years. I soon grew to a point where I began to hate my classes. I lacked motivation, I just didn’t want to be there – and so I didn’t go. The problem was I never told Chris that I wasn’t going, never dropped the classes and tried to hide the semesters that I had flunked out of every class. It was in those moments, that I began to pray…prayers of fear – what if I’m found out, what will Chris say, how can I get out of this? I never acknowledged that maybe I was trying to force something that wasn’t intended for me. I never laid it all down before the Lord or sought His direction and I certainly never asked for His plan or wisdom in what to do. And yet I continuously asked myself the question of why was I in this mess?

The day finally came where Chris found out the truth of how I had been handling my college career. It was a painful time in our relationship and yet a groundbreaking one for reasons I’ll save for another day. But together we decided that I should stop trying to pursue a degree. Fast forward, about a year. I was working for a Christian bookstore as their gift buyer and assistant manager. One afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting a woman who was a part of a national women’s conference. She was in town because they were holding their conference at a local church and she was in doing some promotion. Somehow she and I struck up a conversation and she quickly asked me if I would take my lunch break with her. For the life of me I would not be able to tell you the details of that conversation; I could not even tell you her name but it was the most life changing conversation I’ve ever encountered. As I sat listening to her talk of doing ministry and being on mission for God, affecting the lives of women and reaching the lost for His glory…the Lord gently and firmly interrupted the conversation. I sat listening to her rather intently, when I was overwhelmed by Him saying…’you know… this is what I have for you’. Now granted His voice was not audible…she had no clue He had interrupted her and I certainly played it off, but it was very much like He had slipped into the booth beside me, nudged me and began to talk. He continued, ‘do you hear what she is saying…that is what I want for you…for your life, your walk, your career.’ I cannot tell you how excited and bubbly I became in that moment. I wanted to shout out ‘OKAY!’ but before I could He completed His thought…’but there’s something you need to do for me first. You need to go back to school.’ Now I’ve got to tell you – the woman who was talking to me probably thought I had completely lost my mind because I went from completely excited and bubbly to completely nauseous – turning all different shades of green all the while not telling her of the conversation God and I were currently having. I can ONLY imagine what expressions kept randomly running across my face. From inside my head I screamed at God – ‘WHY?!?!’ to which He directly replied ‘so that I might have that victory in your life.’ I inwardly confessed that I couldn’t do it – I would fail – that I would start and (to quote James) merely end up blown and tossed by the wind. And do you know what His response was? ‘You’re exactly right…you will.’ I suddenly realized in that moment that this was a trial, a test that I had failed – miserably. Everything in me knew that I would, without question, fail at it again if not for one thing. I needed to seek help from Him. I clearly lacked the wisdom on how to succeed in this – I needed Him. I had tried semester after semester telling myself ‘you can do this’; knowing that I wouldn’t be able to. I had tried to go down a career path that the Lord had not prepared for me. And I had tried to manipulate a relationship with my mother-in-law that the Lord had designed to be beautiful in His time. I had asked with doubt plaguing my heart and mind and the result had been nearly drowning from being tossed about in the waves so much. I realized that this would hang over me forever, not just as an area where I had failed, but where I hadn’t allowed the Lord to win. I could not do it without Him. Exactly a year from that lunch I walked across the stage of the coliseum, dawning a cap and gown, accepting my diploma and praising my God – who, because I had asked Him (over and over and over that year) for wisdom, had given it to me generously without finding fault.pd0059-xl

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Are you seeking Him? Do you believe He will give you the wisdom you seek? Is your faith in Him, man or yourself? He stands ready to give…generously…won’t you allow Him to?

My prayer for Today…

Precious Lord, I realize quickly as I think through foolish decisions I’ve made in my lifetime – I come to one resounding understanding – you are a massively patient God. I also see that I am far more stubborn and thick headed than I realized. There are times where I have encountered situations and sought wisdom and opinions from everyone I could think of, but you. There have been times where I’ve just rested in the knowledge of what I felt and wanted to do. In my ignorance, in my stupidity…I fail often to seek that wisdom from you. But, as you promised, you have never forsaken, never failed, never left me – no matter how many times I have forsaken you, failed you, and walked away from you. I need your help Lord to remember to lean on you and look to you during the hardest of trials, but Lord may I not forget to look to you for the day-to-day. If you are the one who has laid this path I’m on before me – why on earth would I look to others for direction. May I hold to you and look to you – always. I pray for my friend who has been gracious to read my ramblings today – I pray that when they have questions, concerns, need wisdom, or question the trials that surround them currently – that it is You that they look to and lean on. Precious Lord – thank you for loving us so desperately, intently, and completely. I love you. In Jesus name…Amen!