Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New website is up and running!

Wondering where I've been?  I've moved to a new website.  Visit from now on to read new blog posts. 

While you are there, check out my bio, resume', etc.  and remember me when you are scheduling your girls'/ladies' events at church.  I'd love a chance to come and spend some time with you and yours!  Also, if you need specialized Christian curriculum developed, I'm your girl.  

See you on the flip site...see what I did there?  

Much love,

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mentor Me

Church people use the word “discipleship” a lot these days, but not like they used to, and I have to say that I’m kind of glad.  Five or six years ago, it was a buzz word that carried with it a long list of ambiguous and unspoken expectations. 

Frankly, it made me nervous. 

I couldn’t tell for sure because I’d never been formally discipled by anyone, but, depending on whom you observed, those expectations seemed to include spending concentrated time with one specific person of your same gender, discussing predetermined curriculum at length, laying your heart and soul bare by confessing all of your mistakes and doubts, asking for and receiving constructive criticism willingly (if not eagerly), and patterning your life to a certain degree after the example set by your mentor. 

To be honest, none of it appealed to me—I’m an opinionated and passionate introvert that would rather take peanut butter intravenously than participate in such a ritual—and yet I felt left out, envious, less spiritual somehow.   

No one wanted to disciple me, or if they did, they didn’t say so.  Of course, I probably would have taken such an offer as personal criticism.  No matter how sweetly they might have phrased it, I would have heard, “You look like you could use some serious help, and I am way more spiritually mature than you are.  Can I disciple you?”  That would not have gone well for the person asking, I’m afraid.

Now, several women did ask me to disciple them, but I said “no,” probably making them feel just as insecure and left out as I felt.  In my defense, I didn’t know what else to do.  Girl world has always been a bit of a mystery to me, a backdrop against which I have always felt like an ogre let down in delicate Munchkin Land, and this whole “disciple me” craze felt a bit like sorority rush, something I opted out of in college with no regrets.   Besides, I didn’t want to put anyone in a position to have to say to me, “Hey, you are not as cool as I thought you were.  I am breaking up with you now.”  I had enough of that in junior high!

Rather than participate on a formal level, I decided to lay low and “keep on plodding” just like my friend Mich Dershem once advised my husband and me to do.  I focused my attention on knowing Jesus, loving others, taking every opportunity to speak the Truth, and doing my best with God’s help to serve as a living illustration of that Truth in case anyone was paying attention.  

Many women in my life have done just that, and each has had a profound impact on my life just as surely as if we had set out to check off a formal list of discipleship requirements together.   Momma taught me to forgive and to serve.  Mema taught me how to love my husband.  Grandmother taught me that passion and emotion, kept in check, can be good things.  My sister taught me to look for the best in people and love with my whole heart.   The list goes on and on and includes many women outside my family.  My only regret in never having formalized and/or labeled my relationship with these women is that they probably don’t realize what a blessing they have been in my life.  

Please don’t get me wrong.  I recognize the intrinsic value of formal discipleship.  Done well and in the right spirit, it’s a good and potentially beneficial way to pass on the Truth we’ve learned to the next generation, perhaps sparing them some of the grief and pain we experienced while learning it. 

I get it.   

I simply want to encourage those who, like me, find formal discipleship intimidating, a little forced, and sometimes stifling by pointing out that effective discipleship is not a one-size-fits-all garment.  You are no less spiritual than anyone else if your mentor doesn’t know who he/she is.  What’s more, you are loved whether you feel like it or not.

My advice to you?  Watch.  Learn.  Love.  Invest.   In short, keep on plodding, friend, and God will use you.  I promise.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Don't Miss It!

“Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’”
Mark 15:29

I read this passage this morning and was immediately frustrated with these people.  They were witnessing the front end of the greatest miracle that would ever take place, the most inexplicable act of love that any human being would ever perform, and they were blind to it, callous to it, even disgusted by it.  Why?  Because they didn’t have their facts straight!  They were operating on second-hand information that was grievously skewed by an incorrect pronoun and an inaccurate verb.    

“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’” John 2:19

Jesus didn’t say that HE would destroy the temple (which was a metaphor for His body, not the actual temple) and BUILD it again in three days.  He told THEM to destroy the temple and promised to RAISE it again in three days, which He did, in short order! 

If those poor saps at the foot of the cross—not even stopping at the foot, staring up at the Messiah in awe, but PASSING BY—had understood what was going on, they would have been filled with an overwhelming, scalp-tickling sense that the scene before them was one of history-altering significance, life-changing relevance. 

They might have held their breath.  They might have wept.  They might have glimpsed the bigger picture and taken hold of their eternal salvation like the thief on the cross, but they PASSED BY to go get groceries or make dinner or something else completely ridiculous and mundane in light of what was happening at Golgotha.  They missed it!

I can’t help but wonder how often we do the same thing.  How often do we, relying on what someone else says God said to them or an inaccurate meme posted on Facebook/Instagram, miss what God is doing simply because we haven’t taken the time to get our facts straight, to think, to notice, to take in, to ponder and work out our own faith with fear and trembling.  I have a sick feeling that it happens pretty often.  

Preachers are great.  Sunday school teachers are fabulous.  Parents who love the Lord and back up their decisions and discipline with Scripture are a rare and fading treasure.  However, no one is perfect.  We all make mistakes (When I think of some of the Bible studies that I led early on in our ministry, I want to throw up.  How arrogant I was to assume that I knew so much!), and we all interpret what we hear and read in the Bible through the filter of our present circumstances, no matter how objective we try to be.  Add to that the fact that the human tongue is far less eloquent than the Holy Spirit in communicating the profound and unsearchable wisdom of God, and we have a little problem. 

I can tell you what I believe the Bible says.  I can tell you what God is doing in my life.  I can give you advice based on the Scripture that I know and am able to remember in the moment, but I can’t be the Holy Spirit in your life, no matter how badly I might want to be sometimes.  That task has already been assigned.    

This being true, my prayer for you today (and for myself) is that you will stop, open your eyes to what God is doing around you, soften your heart to the Holy Spirit, listen with discernment, and study the Bible for yourself instead of allowing those who think they know to feed you intravenously whatever they wish.  

God is working miracles in the hearts of those who let Him today, friend.  Pay attention.  Don’t miss it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Three Days Later

I practiced his absence a hundred times during his senior year, when he was at musical practice, when he went to a friend’s house, when he lived in staff housing at camp, but this is different.  I won’t see my son in a few hours.  In fact, I won’t see him for days.  There may come a time very soon that I don’t see him for weeks, a thought I’m just not ready to handle. 

I’m grateful for the times this past year that I thought to myself, ‘Hunter needs to go to college,’ because I don’t feel that way right now, and I need to remember that I had those moments, that, at some point, I knew this was the right thing, the logical, healthy next step.  

I had big plans for his room, you know, and told him so.  Promising not to wipe away all evidence of his existence, I told him that I was going to paint to cover up all of the marks his skateboards and guitar made on the wall.  I told him that I was going to get a new comforter for his bed to replace the faded and worn one I bought at a garage sale when he was five, the one he once said couldn’t sleep without.  I told him I was going to rearrange his pictures, take some down, add my own—properly spaced!—and make the room suitable for guests.   

Amused, he smiled and said, “Okay, Momma, whatever you want.” 

But Hunter’s been gone for three days now, and I can’t even bring myself to make his bed.  His pillowcase smells like his hugs, after all, and I want to pretend that he just got up and is at school with his sister. 

His room is eerily clean.  I can see the carpet, and I hate it.  The walls are bare, and I find myself pining for the over-shellacked John Wayne clock that never worked, the Jolly Roger flag with a mustache, and the Beatles poster that hung on the wall off-center because he wouldn’t let me hang it.  

Whatever I want?  I WANT YOU BACK, SON!  But I can’t have you.  God has big plans for your life that include your being exactly where you are right now, meeting the people you’re meeting, learning the things that you’re learning, and being challenged in the ways you’re being challenged.   He reminds me of this every time my eyes begin to burn with tears, every time my heart squeezes with the pain of separation from my precious baby boy, every time the enemy tries to tell me that I missed something along the way. 

Oh, I go ahead and cry—you know I do—and my heart still aches—it takes my breath away sometimes—and I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking of things that I could have done better, but I find peace in this.  I did the best I knew how in the moment.  I loved you with everything that I had and pointed you to the Father at every turn, sometimes in desperation, sometimes in anger, sometimes in fear, but always with confidence, knowing that He loves you more than I--although I’ll admit I can’t imagine a love that big!

Somehow, I’ll make it through this transition, Hunter.  You will, too.  You may be fine with it already. (But don’t tell me just yet if you are! Haha!)  I’ll wash your sheets, make your bed, and paint the walls…I’ll even stop turning the lights on and off when I think you would have. 

In the meantime, in your absence, I’ll choose to rest in His presence and let Him bring me peace.  I pray you’ll do the same, sweet boy, just like we practiced.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

That Moment When...

Pepa went to be with Jesus two months before our boy was born, but I still think I see him from time to time.  When it happens, my heart thumps into sudden, rapid rhythm and I am powerfully drawn, the longing for his hug, his smile, his familiar chuckle of approval so intense that my eyes begin to tear. 

Taking a step and craning my neck for a better look, I know I'm being ridiculous. I know that Pepa is gone, but I still hope.  Inevitably, the handsome stranger turns, revealing a profile that's not quite right, a receding hairline that Pepa never had, eyes that lack his mischievous twinkle, and in those moments, I mourn one of the sweetest men that I will ever know all over again.

I think I see Jesus sometimes, too. 

When a father disciplines his child with love and restraint, when a young man extends grace to adults who suspect and mistreat him, when a woman truly forgives and forgets, when a girl gives up her place in the social circle to befriend someone who has been left out...when things like this happen, my soul lifts.  My heartbeat quickens. 

It's Him!  It's Jesus, loving on people through His faithful ones, and in those moments I rejoice in the fact that my Savior lives all over again!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why I love/HATE social media

It's happened way too much lately.  We're right in the middle of family time, enjoying each other's company, and someone checks their phone.  Because I was online just a few minutes ago and follow most of the same people they do, I know what they will find and watch with a heavy heart. 

Scroll.  Scroll.  Scroll. 

There it is, the blink.  I feel it in the pit of my stomach as surely as if I have been punched.  They were left out.  Again.  One of my very favorite smiles begins to fade despite best efforts to keep it in place, and what could have been a fun and memorable family event is tainted by private feelings of inadequacy, rejection, and maternal anguish.

I have an eighteen-year-old son and a fourteen-year-old daughter.  This phenomenon transcends gender and age and is the reason that my relationship with social media is love/hate...mostly hate. 

I know that social media can be and often is a good thing.  The Bible says to pray constantly with all kinds of prayer requests, mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice.  Social media lets me do that.  In fact, most of the prayers I've prayed over the last few years simply wouldn't have been prayed had the need not come up on my feed.  Many of those prayers were for the comfort and peace of others in times of mourning.

It's the whole rejoicing with those who rejoice thing that I struggle with sometimes. I am encouraged to see how many of my friends are happily married and/or enjoying healthy friendships. I get chills when I learn that they are expecting or adopting a child or becoming grandparents, and I love watching their children grow, overcome, and accomplish. I even enjoy new car, new house, and vacation updates, but that hasn't always been the case.

Until five years ago, Todd and I shared a car, lived in a rent house, and pinched pennies in order to take modest vacations.  None of it really bothered me--I knew I was blessed--until I got on social media and saw pics of my friends driving new cars, living in big, new homes, and taking extravagant vacations. Then it became a struggle. 

Satan used those posts like barbs to awaken the jealousy monster I kept chained in the basement of my heart, the one I should have already let God kill.  I truly wanted to believe that my friends, family, and acquaintances were unaware of the unrest that their posts caused me, but every "having a great time here at Disney World" felt like "don't you wish you could take your family to Disney World?"  Every "closing on my dream home today" felt like "you are the kind of people that made us leave our old neighborhood."  Every "my new toy" felt like "shouldn't you at least have a car?"

That was five years ago.  Now the struggle is social, not so much for me, but for my family.  I'm a bit of an introvert and am okay, for the most part, with knowing that my friends get together without me, but it kills me to see what my kids go through because of social media. 

Again, I want to believe that the incessant, for-no-particular-reason group pics and overused totem pole captions ( bae, bff, the best, my favorite, etc.) posted by this generation are not intended to wound, but I am suspicious.  I can't help wondering how many are innocent celebrations of friendship and how many are actually aggressive attempts to stake social territory.  After all, kids will be kids, and that's what bothers me.

Ultimately, there's nothing I can really do about it but help my children find their worth in Christ, teach them to consider the feelings of others in all things, and model compassion myself.  I can't control how other people respond to the things I post, but I can consider their feelings and keep my motives in check.

To post or not to post?  It's the question we all need to be asking, and the answer is, "It depends."  Are we trying to inform, entertain, or inspire, three completely benign reasons to post, or are we trying to persuade our audience that we are somehow happier, better looking, less lonely, more accomplished, more connected, more wealthy, more satisfied, more disciplined, more intelligent, more athletic, more original, or more spiritual than they are?

If our purpose is to somehow win King of the Social Media Mountain, we'd do well to save those tilted, filtered pics and clever captions for the family scrapbook.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Truth?  There is nothing in this whole world that I love more than Scripture.  However, sometimes, it’s difficult for me to digest.  It’s not that I don’t understand it.  I do.  That’s the problem. 

Understanding brings me face to face with the ugliness in my heart and forces me to make decisions for or against Christ.  Will I die to myself and follow Him in this particular, or will I choose my own path, pretend I don’t know that I’m in the wrong, and hope that the spiritual make-up I’ve applied is thick enough to fool everyone but Him?  No, conviction isn’t always pleasant. 

This morning, I picked up my Bible anyway, and I am still choking on the bite I took. 

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

I’ve read this verse at least a hundred times, memorized it, taught it, and written about it.  It seemed a safe enough way to start my day, but this Word of God we often handle like a self-help tool is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).  Today, it cut me right to the core. 

The thing that struck me in this verse was the switch from active to passive voice.  According to this verse, conforming is something that we do, but transformation is something that we let God do in us.  Oh, we play a part in transformation, alright.  We let go.  Understanding that what seems right to us in the moment often leads to death (Proverbs 14:12), we make a conscious choice to stop reacting, processing, TALKING, analyzing, and judging and allow God not only to change our behavior, but to actually rewire our thinking.

What does that mean in practical terms? 

Well, for one thing, it means that when my loved ones do something stupid—we all do something stupid sooner or later—I allow the Holy Spirit to stop me in my tracks before I respond in kind.  When He pricks my heart, I freeze Matrix style and choose not to do the things that I want to do, yell, blame, snub, punish, and wound, lest I conform. 

Instead, I ask God to take the two-headed beast of petulance and pride that I become in moments like those, the one capable of biting heads off quite handily, and let Him melt me down into someone else.  Someone who sees the potential in people rather than the flaws.  Someone who feels genuine, selfless compassion for others.  Someone who values mercy over justice and offers second, third, and twenty-seventh chances.

Of course, letting go means giving up any right I think I have to sulk or hold a grudge.  It means forgoing the tearful “I’m sorry” I feel I deserve and/or the kiss-up compliments that come with apologies.  What's more, it means forfeiting the chance to feel morally superior for a moment. 


How ugly I am! 

Even so, I desperately want to know the Father.  I want to please Him.  I want to be a part of what He’s doing in these last days, and for that, I need discernment.  For that, I need rewiring, complete transformation, and that's the truth.