Thursday, December 22, 2011


I have been chomping at the bit to make a super-exciting announcement:

* * * * * * * * * * * *
I'm in the DREAM YEAR Class of 2012!!!!

I first heard about Dream Year at the Quitter Conference. I looked Dream Year up online and began to pray over what I saw. It's all about living intentionally and doing what God gifted you to do--this has very much been the burden of my heart. I wanted to be in on it in some way--and, to be honest, I thought I was praying big when I thought about possibly attending the Dream Year Weekend in Charlotte, NC in January.

I remember it was the end of August when I sat down with Justin and asked him how he would feel if I planned to attend DY Weekend. I showed him the website and he read quietly for awhile. Then he called me over and said what I never, ever expected to come out of his mouth:

"Why don't you apply to be on the team of twelve?"

I opened my mouth, ready to rattle off half a dozen reasons why that just would not work. This wasn't simply one weekend--it was applying to join a team of 12 individuals in whom God has birthed a vision to do something for His Kingdom--a year of audaciously pursuing the call on our lives. Honestly, that was never on my radar at all--I thought the DY Weekend was a big leap of faith! But IN THAT MOMENT as I stood poised and ready to say why it would never work for me to apply, I KNEW I was in the midst of something tremendously of God. Like, right then. I don't know how to describe it, other than I knew this was going to be a faith challenge much like up-and-moving to Boston strictly on God's leading had been 12 years ago.

As I stood there with my mind mulling over the possibilities at hand, Justin said these words to me: "Why WOULDN'T it be you?" His words were a balm to every wound of rejection and an answer to every insecurity that had been drummed up in me. Oh, what a good, good man.

By October, I had the peace, confirmations, and enough savings to feel comfortable in applying. I knew the deadline was in December, so once I applied, I knew I was in for a bit of a wait.

While I waited, I began to forget. I forgot of how I'd felt the Holy Spirit stirring in my heart the day Justin first said I should apply. I forgot how God had given such peace the week I applied. I forgot I had anything to offer, by the grace of God.

For me, the nail in the coffin was when, a week or two before the deadline, I saw online that applications had been streaming in for the Dream Year Coaching. That was kind of it for me. I really assumed I wasn't going to be in on it. Surely what I was passionate about wasn't going to make the cut in light of all the amazing things I see people doing.

* Saturday, December 10th. The application deadline date. I spent the day just kind of aware of the fact. I wasn't holding my breath at that point though.

* Monday, December 12th. I'm chosen! But I didn't know yet because I was sound asleep when word arrived. An email of congratulations was sent to me at 11pm that night. (I LOVE that this blessing had my name on it for hours before I knew about it!!)

* Tuesday, December 13th. 6am. I stumbled downstairs, still bleary-eyed and needing some coffee. I picked up my phone and saw that I had an email. And the subject of that message?

Welcome to Dream Year. :)

Still half-asleep, I wondered if I was dreaming. I read and re-read I don't know how many times. I sat down in the dark of my living room and cried and shook like a leaf for a good 5 minutes!!!

And then I read my Bible. And prayed. Bliss.

You know what was so beautiful about that moment? I KNEW God had made a way. He had to--there would have been no way for me any other way! Out of a plank of impossibilities, He carved out His way for me. And those were the sweetest, most glory-filled few moments. I imagined God absolutely GIDDY at the sight of His child realizing that He had made a way for her. I'll never forget it!

And then after those moments with the One who made a way, I ran upstairs and showed Justin the email. Justin, my husband who has listened to me vent my passions and frustrations and burdens all these years now, celebrated and rejoiced with me. It was beautiful.

My one concern was that some of what I had saved prior to applying had to be used for other obligations, but I kept assuming I wouldn't be given the opportunity anyway. So when I got word I was part of the team, I had 10 days to gather the payment--and I was short! But between selling a bunch of items around the house and the amazing love of friends, I had every penny. And, once again, God carved a way out of the plank of impossibility. Awesome.

And so, by God's grace, I'm in! My Dream Year project has to do with developing an event geared toward encouraging believers to open up their Bibles, to see its relevance to their lives, and to fall in love with the Word of God. That's the nutshell version, anyway!

On a side note: A few months ago I wrote a blog post called Because of Tomorrow, What Should Happen Today? about the passage from Joshua 3 that says, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you." I cannot tell you how many times in the past 2 to 3 months that I have heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, "Ready yourself." Well, now as I look back? Gosh, no wonder He wouldn't let up on that!

I welcome your prayers. God has been more than good and gracious to let me in on what He is doing. I want this event to bring behavior change, yielding in heart and life change. I want my life to be about furthering the Kingdom, and I feel compelled to point believers toward the Word! Please pray for my own personal time in God's Word in 2012. I want to cling to Him and bring Him glory. Pray for my family time to be protected. Pray for my heart to be right.

Thank you for rejoicing with me! God has brought to mind many ideas already---I cannot wait for 2012!

P.S. In January I get to go with Justin, my son, and my daughter to Charlotte, NC for the Dream Year Weekend (for free)! It was something God had in mind all along.

It just wasn't ALL He had in mind. :)


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Being at the aquarium doesn't scare me. Yes, that shark is looking right at me. Sure, those jellyfish are only inches away from my children.

But they're on the other side of some tremendously thick and strong glass. They're there. But it's not like they can really get us.

If you are a believer in Christ, then living in a constant state of fear is a lot like freaking out at the aquarium. Can you imagine walking through the corridors in a constant state of panic over what is on the other side of the glass?

There's no need. Nothing can really get to you.

As believers, we have the hope that nothing in this world can REALLY get us. Sure, there's trouble. Yes, there's suffering. Jobs evaporate, homes are lost, government makes decisions that affect us all. It can look like our fate rests in the hands of man, which is a scary thought. But that is far from the case. What power do they really hold over us? What can anyone REALLY do to us?

Hope envelopes us here. Heaven awaits us there.

Jesus has overcome the world that gives us trouble, and death has lost its sting. Almighty God is our fortress, our strong tower. The righteous run to Him and are safe.

Consider the thing that right now draws up fear in you. As you go through this day, declare that it holds no real threat against you. You are in the strong and protective hands of God. As close as that threat may be to you, in Christ it is on the "other side of the glass." You walk about in safety (Prov. 3:23) -- no matter what.

In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;
I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Psalm 56:4

In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Psalm 56:11

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Psalm 118:6

So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

Hebrews 13:6


Thursday, December 15, 2011


There's a Hooters Restaurant in town, and we drive by it from time to time. My kids often ask if they can go into "that cool place with the owl on it." My answer has been "no" more times than I can count, and without explanation. But finally I told my son that we don't go there because sometimes men don't treat women with respect there. His response?

"Well, I have a great idea. Why don't Daddy and I go there sometime, and he and I will be REALLY nice to all the ladies!"

I muffled a laugh. Incidentally, yeah...that's not going to happen.

Seriously though, it hurts my heart to see ANY woman being objectified. Nothing wrong with noticing beauty. But for a man to purposefully enter a restaurant with the intent of staring at women's chests outside of any sort of relationship with them is just plain wrong.

I think of the frightening trend toward objectification of women in our world. Everything to the trafficking of girls, to the sexualization of girls' clothing, to places that are built for men to go and stare at women's bodies rather than look them in the eyes. You say you're just going there "for the wings"? Brother, please. Nobody's buying that.

But I believe I'm not half as upset about it as our Heavenly Father. We know His thoughts on lust. But lust at the expense of His beloved daughters? I cannot imagine how His anger burns over the way His daughters are treated. Our God is slow to anger and abounding in love. But do I believe He is angry over this? Absolutely.

When I was about 12, my dad picked me up from dance class one night. And as we headed out to the car, two teenage boys made a comment about my body. Well, hell hath no fury like a father whose daughter's body just got commented on! It wasn't pretty. And should anyone dishonor my little girl? I promise you my normally-mild-mannered husband would be on that like white on rice. There would be NO tolerance for the mistreatment of his little girl.

How much more for the Father who made us?

We were fashioned by loving hands--hands that intended for us purity and honor. He is enthralled by the beauty He made in you and me--altogether lovely are we! I am no object--I am Somebody's daughter. And my own daughter will head out into this world someday. I want her to know who she is in Him--and expect to be treated that way.

Don't worry, I'm not going to close out with the lyrics to "I'm Every Woman" or anything like that. :) I just think it's time for a reminder of who we are in Him.


Saturday, December 10, 2011


My husband tells the story of a time he went hiking with a group of guys, one of whom was huffing and puffing and having an especially tough time making it up the side of the mountain. Things made a bit more sense when they reached the top and the guy plunked down, pulled a ginormous watermelon out of his backpack and asked, "Anyone want some?"

Now, I have enough common sense not to try and huff a huge watermelon up the side of the mountain (or to try to climb a mountain at all, for that matter). But I sure can relate to trying to take a little too much baggage on my journey.

I can't get Hebrews 12:1 off my mind lately: "Let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." My wonderfully loving and creative God has set a course for my life--a race I was
made to run. But how can I run with my arms wrapped around a watermelon? How can my strides lead me to where I am to go with its vines draping down around my legs and tripping me up?

I can't. I cannot possibly run the kind of race in the kind of way I was meant to when I'm holding on to hindrances.

I need to drop my watermelon and run. You need to drop your watermelon and run. We were made for an abundant life and
we will miss too much of the set-aside-for-us abundance if we do not grab hold of whatever holds us, throw it off, and run like our lives depend on it--Because, in fact, the abundant life really does.

WHATEVER is keeping you from running with reckless abandon the race God has set before you,
pull it off and RUN. If anything (or anyone) draws your eye away from total devotion to Jesus Christ--even if you have to pry it off, then do so--and RUN.

Throw and Go

You may think this is just about you, that only you are affected. Not even! "Throwing and Going" impacts
generations. Can you imagine the heritage your children will receive through you throwing off what hinders and entangles? By feverishly pursuing the path God has for you? By pulling off whatever is holding you back? By walking (running) in obedience to the God who goes out of His way to bless the upright?

Or you can just keep running with that giant watermelon in your hands. Sadly, that impacts generations, too.

And think of those around you who need you to throw off everything and run. Consider the people who make an impact in your own walk with God. You need them running their race unfettered so that they can speak truth or serve or minister to you. But there are those who need YOU to run YOUR race unfettered so that you can do the same for them. We run first and foremost out of love and obedience to our God. But we also owe it to the people around us to run our race right, because of the impact it will have on them. There are people around YOU who are waiting for you to run right and fulfill the call God has uniquely placed on YOUR life, because they will be blessed by you running your race unhindered.

What's your watermelon? What's that thing you're trying to huff along with you as you run the race marked out for you? I don't even think it's that we don't want to run the race God has for us; We just want to be able to take all our stuff along for the run.

Throw off everything that hinders you.
Throw off the sin that so easily entangles you.
Run with perseverance the race marked out for you.

Throw and Go.


Sunday, December 4, 2011


"This is the one!" I gushed, pointing to a poofy-sleeved wedding dress in the JCPenney Wedding Dresses catalog. I smoothed the pages and beamed with pride, fully expecting my parents' elation to match mine.

"So here's what I'm thinking," I announced. "Wedding dress prices are sure to keep going up, so what if we buy this one now and save it for when I get married? I know this is the very dress I'm going to want, even if it's 10 years down the road."

I was 14. Aaaaand absolutely, one hundred percent serious.

I don't know how my parents kept a straight face. Their answer was something along the lines of, "Um...that would be a NO."

I was a little bit crushed. I was so sure I knew what I was going to want down the road.

My parents knew better.

Because, truth be told, by the time I actually did get married, my tastes had changed just a tad. And I think I might have *cried* if I'd had to get married in that poofy-sleeved monstrosity! I do not know what possessed me to think that all that abundant fabric billowing around my shoulders would be a cute look. And on my eventual wedding day, I donned a lovely, simple gown. With thin little sparkly straps rather than shoulder poofs so big as to obstruct my side-to-side view.

But I'd been so sure I knew what I was going to want down the road.

Think back over your life--over the things you were convinced you had to have, over the people you were sure you wanted to take the journey with you, over the way you were so certain you wanted it to go.

Were you right?

I wasn't. SO not right. I wasn't right about a lot of things I was so sure I would want long-term. And the way that I found out I wasn't right about them was by receiving what God intended to give me all along. And then, all of a sudden, what I was so sure I would want quickly paled in comparison to what my Ephesians 3:20 God held before me.

Thank goodness my parents didn't give me what I was so sure I wanted. And thank goodness God doesn't, either! His ways are higher than mine, and perfect forever. He does not change with times or styles or seasons. What He gives is lasting--and right.

And so right now as you consider that thing, that person, that opportunity you are absolutely convinced you will want long term, at least entertain the thought that God might have more for you--And that perhaps one day, when you hold His immeasurably-more-than-all-we-could-ask-or-imagine gifts He has given you, you'll think of all the things you wanted as little more than poofy-sleeved wedding dresses boxed up in a closet.

You think you know what you want--and what you will want. But--glory to God--you might just be wrong. :)

Now to Him who is able to do
immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine,
according to His power
that is at work within us,
to Him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations,
forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

Thursday, December 1, 2011


If you want to know what's going on around you, then don't look around you.


On my way to work I always come to this "VEHICLE APPROACHING WHEN FLASHING" sign. It's at a bend in the road with very limited visibility, so rather than looking left and right before turning onto Burnt Hickory, I have to stare straight ahead at the light to know whether it's safe to turn right or left. If the light is flashing, then a car is coming (whether I can see it from my vantage point or not, it's coming). If not, it's clear--and safe for me to proceed.

Seems counter-intuitive to look straight ahead rather than right or left, but it's the safest way.

Because there are cars coming around the bend just beyond where I can see them, and if I pull out simply because I can't see any cars coming, I could get hit. So I cannot trust in what I see when I look side to side--my view is just too limited. I have to stare straight toward the light and take my cues from it.

There are things that you and I can't see in the limited view of our humanness. We can't see that that "harmless" flirtation could eventually cause one heck of a train wreck, and that's why our God urges us to run like heck (my paraphrase) from sexual immorality--and even from the steps that could potentially lead toward it. Harmless? Hardly. It's not a game, it's not a fun diversion. It is a catastrophe waiting to happen. And maybe we can't see that one swipe after another of our credit cards is going to land us in a financial collision eventually, but that's why there are constant urges--just in Proverbs alone--not to proceed into obligations of debt.

When we look around at our circumstances, they may appear safe. But that's exactly WHY WE CAN'T look to our circumstances--we just can't see what could be coming around the way that is currently beyond our view. We need to fasten our gaze straight ahead on Jesus and on His perfect Word, because it brings to light what is hidden and speaks to what we cannot see.

And on the flip side, there are times when victory, redemption, and enormous joy are just outside our limited view. We can't see any fruit from our faith, but it doesn't mean it's not on its way. There may be something absolutely glory-drenched right around the bend that is about to collide with our lives in the most beautiful way.

Maybe it's the family who has prayed for years to be matched with a child finally being told there's one waiting. Maybe it's the brother coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ when you weren't sure it was ever going to happen. Maybe it's the job for which you've been praying that lands in your lap just as you were about to give up hope. Proverbs 2:7 says that He holds victory in store for the upright, and the Hebrew word for "in store" suggest that the victory is hidden--unseen. But that victory is very much in store for us, nonetheless.

Want to understand what's going on around you? Don't look around you! Stare toward the One who brings understanding to our oh-so-limited view.

Let us fix our eyes on JESUS,
the author and finisher of our faith.
Hebrews 12:2

No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love Him.

1 Corinthians 2:9


Friday, November 18, 2011


I love looking at trees right after they've lost their leaves.

Because I don't just see uncovered branches and unadorned limbs. I don't just see "Nudie Trees," as my 3-year old calls them.

I see my examples.

These trees have endured wind and rain and storms that have blown away every last leaf until they stand naked.

And with nothing left, their arms still stretch toward God.

When the winds blow and the storms come against us, leaving us stripped of everything we have, when we're emptier than we've ever been, when we've run out of our own strength, do we crumble into a heap on the ground?

Or do we stand in His strength and raise hands in worship to our God?

You will go out in JOY and be led forth in PEACE.
The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12

*Happy Thanksgiving this week!*

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Maybe--just maybe--it's time to not be serving where you're serving.

When I was 22, I got a call saying that a few of the pastors at my church wanted to meet with me. I was a scandal-free kind of girl and didn't have any big skeletons in my closet, so I wasn't too worried--but I was a little curious as to what they had to say.

When I arrived for the meeting that day, Pastor Ken and Pastor Tom sat across from me and spoke some hard-to-hear, but important, words:

"Thea," they started, "you're involved in a lot of areas here. And we fear for you the potential of burnout. If you keep at the pace you're going, you're liable to begin to dread or resent serving--and ministry in general."

It was true--I
was all over the place. I led worship, helped with the children's choir, participated in the adult choir, was on the ministry team for the college group, and was a leader in the high school group.

"We want you to take a month off. From
everything," they continued. No serving anywhere. Just take this time to pray about where God wants you. Consider where you're really excited to serve. Then come back to that. If it's to all 5 ministries, great. But if it's just to one, then come back to the one and serve with all your heart."

I won't lie, there was a part of me that felt a bit hurt.
Why don't they want my service? I wondered. But the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I realized they were giving me a gift in encouraging me to evaluate where I was serving. WHY was I serving? Was I passionate about all of those opportunities? Was I gifted to serve well in all of those areas?

That month-long hiatus was tough at first. I felt like I'd go stir-crazy sitting at home on the nights when I used to have somewhere I had to be. But by the end of the month, there was great peace. I knew some things had to go. Almost everything, in fact.

I returned to only one out of the five ministries.

I returned to leading worship--that was it. And you know what? The other 4 ministries didn't fall apart without me. In fact, other people stepped in to spots that I had once occupied, using their God-given gifts and talents to lead and serve. We can assume we're supposed to serve all over the place. But sometimes when that happens, other people who are gifted and equipped to serve won't do so because they see the spots are filled--sometimes by people who might not even be strong in serving in those areas.

My pastors cared about me, and were wise to encourage me to assess my service. And their wisdom remains with me to this day. I don't just jump into every opportunity and assume every spot is mine to fill.

I don't know what it is about having somewhere we have to be that can make us feel needed, nor how having an empty spot in our planners can make us feel empty--but it's very much the case. We really have to be honest when we assess WHY we're serving. Sometimes these things I do for others in the name of ministry have a lot to do with ME and very little to do with YOU.

It was appropriate for me to let go.
Not easy. But appropriate.

Consider the areas in which you're currently serving. Are you passionate about them, or are they obligations to fulfill? Are you actually good at doing what you're doing, or were you basically "voluntold" to sign up? And, most importantly, did you PRAY about committing to those areas in which you're serving before you agreed to do so? And finally, have you possibly spread yourself so thin doing so many different
good things that you have a sinking feeling you're not really doing any of them well?

Sometimes something's gotta go. Be honest. Pray. And then discern what is to stay, and what is to go.

* Check out this GREAT POST from Tentblogger. He speaks to the need to let God prune our service to make it more fruitful. Similar to this post, but written far more eloquently and compellingly! :)


Monday, November 14, 2011

DEAR JESUS: (Shut Up!!!)

I'll never forget one of the most legendary prayers ever spoken in our house:

"Dear Jesus, (Shut up!) We just love you so much (Get away from me!!!!) and we pray that you will help us do the right thing (You stupid!)--Amen."

Ah, the bedtime prayer of a boy who is trying to pray AND fight with his little sister at the same time.
He was basically sandwiching his conversation with God in between bouts of sibling rivalry.

But really, is it any different than what a lot of grown-ups do?

We spend our Sunday mornings in worship, but then get into an argument with our spouse on the drive home.

We tell God in prayer that we would go to the ends of the earth for him, but an hour later we speak harsh, critical words to those around us.

We speak of our love for God but slander the very ones He made.

We thank God for forgiving us, but refuse to extend mercy to another.

We basically sandwich our worship of God in between our battles with man. And if I can see the tremendous dichotomy between my son's loving expression toward God and his unkind words toward his sister, then why can't I identify these same discrepancies in my own life?

LORD, let our love for one another be real-- and rich with grace. There's just no room for us to worship You and then turn right around and lash out at each other.

Above all else,
have a severe love for one another,
for love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8

If you keep on biting and devouring each other,
watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Galatians 5:15

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another;
be sympathetic, love as brothers,
be compassionate and humble.

1 Peter 3:8

Friday, November 11, 2011


I'm a curvy girl with a work-in-progress kind of body. I could try all the live-long day to squeeze into Size 4 jeans and it just wouldn't happen for me. It's not like I'm into elastic waistband territory or anything, but you're not going to find me trying to fit all of this into a pair of jeggings.

As a follower of Christ, there are some things that just don't fit me, either.

Gossip doesn't fit in my mouth as His follower.

Unforgiveness doesn't fit in my heart as His disciple.

Judgement doesn't fit on me as one who has been shown mercy.

So what does fit on a child of God?


It is FITTING for the upright to praise Him (Psalm 33:1).

Worship is the garment that fits on a believer. Acknowledgement of God is what fits on a follower. A life of praise is what fits on you and me when we call Him LORD of our lives.

Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and FITTING to praise Him!

Psalm 147:1
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I need the LORD. I mean, desperately. I get that there is no hope for me apart from Him.

I need the LORD right now--today. I need His strength to seek His face. To love my husband and children. To be self-controlled and pure. To be busy at home. To not lose my cool. To keep going. To not wreck my life. To use my talents. To believe who I am in Him. To love others. To be in His Word. To look to Him for my worth rather than clamoring for the acceptance of man. To stand up under lies and rejection. To overcome. To trust that He is making a way in the desert where I don't see it. To be confident in His provision and timing. And I need His forgiveness, for I have come up short more times than I can bear.

I've been unloving, unjoyful, unpeaceful, impatient, unkind, ungood, unfaithful, ungentle, and un-self-controlled. I NEED the LORD. I need the work of His Holy Spirit in me. I need Him to help me be the woman He wants me to be, because apart from Him I am a lost cause, and would be worthy of being written off.


If ever there was a song that captured my story and spoke to my need (and His
beautiful response to it), it's this one:

If the truth was known and a light was shown
on every hidden part of my soul,
most would turn away, shake their heads and say
"She still has such a long way to go."
If the truth was known you'd see
that the only good in me
is Jesus.

If the walls could speak of the times I've been weak
when everybody thought I was strong,
Could I show my face if it weren't for the grace
of the One who's known the truth all along?
If the walls could speak, they'd say
that my only hope is the grace of Jesus--
The grace of Jesus.

And oh, the goodness and the grace in Him,
He takes it all and makes it mine,
and He causes His light in me to shine
with a love that never ends
Just as I am, not as I do,
Could this be real, could this be true?
This could only be a MIRACLE
This could only be the miracle of mercy.

MIRACLE OF MERCY * Steven Curtis Chapman

* To listen, Click HERE. One of my lifesongs,
and it still moves me to tears.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


My son thinks his personal mission in life is to hold the door open for others. He often bolts ahead of us at church just to get to the door so he can hold it open for us. Aaaand everyone else within a 5-mile radius.

I'm always a bit surprised (read: seriously pet-peeved) when grown-ups walk through the door that my young boy is holding open for them without thanking him, or sometimes without even looking at him.

This is so NOT me to do, but secretly I wish that just once I could call someone out on it. "Pardon me," I would say, "but how do you suppose that door got open for you? Did you not notice the not-even-4-foot-tall, tiny individual using all his strength to hold it open so that you could walk through?"

Of course, I'd never actually say that to someone. But the lack of acknowledgement is upsetting.

I kind of wonder though if God sometimes takes issue with us on this very thing. "Pardon me," He might say, "but how do you suppose that door got open for you? Did you not perceive the One used His mighty strength to hold it open for you so that you could walk through?"

"How do you suppose you have food on your table?"

"How do you suppose you were able to accomplish what seemed impossible?"

"How do you suppose you have a roof over your head?"

"How do you suppose you found favor in that situation?"

"How do you suppose you're able to lead worship so well / write so well / parent so well / teach so well / speak so well?"

The hand of the LORD has done it--He has made a way. Perhaps He has delighted to do it in and through you, but the hand of the LORD has done these things. And His works demand our acknowledgement.

I love this verse:

Let us acknowledge the LORD;
Let us PRESS ON to acknowledge the LORD.

Hosea 6:3

* What work or provision of God might you need to acknowledge today?
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Monday, November 7, 2011


Marathon runners are crazy. I'm convinced. They actually pay to go somewhere and run 26.2 miles, just to run. There's not even a rabid dog or mountain lion chasing them or anything. I don't get it. For the record, I'm not even sure I've run a collective 26.2 miles over the course of my life.

And their marathon breaks are so....
un-break-like! They don't even stop--they just grab a cup of water from someone's outstretched hand, and keep running. If I ever do manage to run a marathon (don't hold your breath), my break will most definitely involve stopping. And probably a caramel iced coffee and a recliner, too.

A lot of us have our quiet times (if we have them at all) like marathon runners. We think we only have time to get some Living Water if we don't have to slow down or stop to receive it. We read a devotion from our iPhones at a red light, we throw up a quick prayer for favor as we're running into the meeting. But it has to be fast, because we dare not actually stop to receive it.

I get that we're busy. If I don't get my time with God in before one of my children wakes up, I'm hard-pressed to get it in before 10pm--and that's if I'm still awake then! But I can't help thinking of the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes in John 6.

Have the people sit down," He told His disciples.

And then He fed them.

He invited them to sit and receive the food He would provide for them. And then they ate their fill and were satisfied. Jesus didn't pass out this provision through some Drive-Thru window; They sat and ate from the provision of His hands.

There's something in this that just speaks to my heart. Some days are just Go, Go, Go from morning to night--but He invites us to sit and receive what He has for us. What if our times with God reflected the fact that we've gotten the invitation to come and sit and receive? If our quiet times are constantly happening on the run, we're too busy. Period. What else is so valuable as to be able to compete with that time?

Carve out the time. Be still for a moment. Come and sit and be fed.

And--Hallelujah--you can even do it with an caramel iced coffee and a recliner. :)


Sunday, November 6, 2011


It's 4:37am, and I just woke up from a nightmare.

I dreamed our family was walking down the grassy center area between two highways, and at some point Justin and I noticed that our children weren't behind us anymore. There were twists and turns behind us, so we didn't have a straight shot to see behind us to try and find them. Justin stayed put in case they returned, and I ran, desperate to find them.

My son showed up unharmed on his own. I celebrated and rejoiced, but having only one of my children home was not enough. I went right back on running, because my little girl was still wandering out there by herself. I ran with a fury and desperation I can't even begin to describe. I had to get to her. I couldn't bear the thought of what her fate could be if I couldn't get there in time. Then suddenly I was inside a house and a woman walked in, carrying my daughter over her shoulder. I couldn't tell if she was okay, so I asked, "Is she alive?" The woman nodded, and I grabbed my little girl and wailed and sobbed and cried the most relieved tears.

This is not how I wanted to wrap up a night of sleep--thinking of my son and daughter in such a dangerous situation. But what a picture God painted through it. He gave me just a tiny glimpse of his love-fueled, feverish pursuit of His children. Yes, He delights when one is found. There is great celebration when one is restored. But He can't get His mind off His children who are still out there wandering, with a potential fate He did everything to save us from.

Jesus painted this same picture with three back-to-back stories in Luke 15: First, a shepherd of 100 sheep who loses 1, and leaves the 99 to find and restore to home that one lost sheep. When he finds it, he calls his friends around to celebrate with him.

Next, a woman with 10 coins loses 1, and spends herself to find the one--lighting a lamp, sweeping in search, and looking carefully for the one lost coin. When she finds it, she calls her friends around to celebrate with her.

And then finally, the story of the lost son. A father with one of his sons safe at home finds that one alone is not enough. He spends every day staring out the window, hoping his son will return home safely. If you run the math, this man had half his children safe at home, but his heart hungrily hoped for his other son to come home. And when the son did, the man was standing there waiting, watching, looking out the window. And when he saw the outline of his boy even from far off, that father RAN-likely in furious, desperate pursuit--to get to his son. I bet there were relieved sobs and screams of joy. If it was anything like the reunion I had with my daughter in my dream, there were. And then, the celebration feast with shouts of "My son was lost, but now he is found!"

I'll be sitting in church in a few hours, among a bunch of other "found" folk. I'm not saying we're found nor saved just by occupying a seat in a church on Sunday, but it's safe to say that later on today I'll be surrounded by the "found." It's easy to forget that while our God has celebrated us returning to Him, there are still many who are lost. And the fate of those apart from Christ is even more devastating than the potential fate of a child wandering between two freeways. I can't get out of my mind the desperation of the heart of God to draw them to Himself, and have them return home. The invitation has been sent, a place has been made for them--and now they can either choose or not choose to come home. But let it be clear--He has made a way for His children to come home.

And now I have a greater understanding of how He feels about those who are still out there lost.

"Some" saved isn't "Enough" saved. Following the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18, Jesus said this:

In the same way, your Father in Heaven
is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18:14

And so this morning as many of us go and surround ourselves with the rest of the "found," let us remember those who are still out there lost. Pray for them by name, that they will be restored to the Father, and consider how great the rejoicing will be when they do.


Friday, November 4, 2011


Isn't it amazing how the start of your day seems to dictate how the rest of the day goes? You wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and sometimes it feels like it's hard to recover from that rough start.

But it goes the other way, too. The way your day starts has a lot to do with how the rest of the day will go. This is more than just having a quiet time (which of course I totally recommend); It's saying something to God in those very first moments of the day that sets us on a peaceful course for the rest of the day.

My awesome friend Jackie recommended this to me when I was in a season of stressing over how my days were unfolding. She said I should acknowledge God as Lord of that day before I even set foot out of bed, and that when she began to do that, she viewed her days differently.

And so this has become my morning prayer that I say before I even get out of bed:

Before I set even one foot on the floor to begin this day,
I am acknowledging YOU.

I am saying that You are the Author of this day,
You order my steps in it,
and You will unfold it by Your grace.
What you have in this day for me,

I'll receive with thanks.
But I will not lament
what you do not have for me in this day.

This day is Yours and for Your glory.

In Jesus' name,


You see, this prayer made all the difference because I was going through a time where clients would have to cancel, and it would cause a lot of anxiety about the rearrangement of my schedule and the loss of income. When I started praying this prayer in the morning, things shifted in my heart to where there wasn't anxiety if things didn't go according to plan; I saw it as just the ordering of my steps for the day. And what I may have previously seen as the loss of one thing, I began to see as the gain of another: Often, the gain of time with my kids. Once I prayed for my schedule to rest in the able hands of God, there was peace--no matter what that day ended up looking like by the time my head hit the pillow at night.

Almighty God, You PRE-KNOW our days. You have written every one of them out before one of them came to be. Nothing in the unfolding of our days is a surprise to You. You're never caught off guard, never inconvenienced. So no matter what this day does or does not hold, there is tremendous peace, because You go before us in it. We love You.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I spent the better part of Monday having a mammogram. Good fun. First, I ended up in the wrong office and had to ask a middle-aged man where the Breast Center was. He told me, then put his hand on my arm and said, "And hey--good luck up there!" Great...thanks.

I got up there and put my clothes in a locker, and waited. At one point I looked over at the sea of lockers and realized I hadn't paid attention to which number was on the locker I'd used. I imagined never finding my clothes and having to make a break for it, leaving the hospital in the burgundy, questionable-coverage "wrap" they gave me to wear.

Finally I had the procedure, then waited. I'd already been told it wasn't likely that I would need an ultrasound, so I was expecting to be in and out fairly quickly. But it wasn't going to go that way.

"Mrs. Nelson, we found something on your mammogram and we'll need to do an ultrasound to further investigate."

I waited in a room for over an hour with only my thoughts to occupy me. I began to think of the reasons I didn't want bad news. And my mind went to a passage I read a few months back in Francis Chan's book
Forgotten God. In the excerpt he tells of a time he was called to a home to pray for a man dying of cancer. The elders gathered around him to anoint him with oil and pray for his healing. But before they prayed, Chan asked the sick man something he says he doesn't usually ask:

"Why do you want to be healed? Why do you want to stay on this earth?"

An unusual question, perhaps. But a fair one.

Why do we care to live? Why do we fear getting bad news? If we are told our time will be short, what lost opportunity might we grieve? And if we're told all is well, how will we be good stewards of the blessed gift called "more time"?

Is it because we are hungry to continue bringing glory to God? To continue to do what He called us to do? Or is it so we can spend our days on our own pursuits and passions, as is mentioned in James 4:3?

As I waited, I was overwhelmed with peace. I wasn't afraid of bad news, even though they'd found something iffy. I honestly wasn't even afraid of dying, if that was part of it. But as I sat in that room, I just asked God that if something was wrong, to please strengthen my husband and children to continue to walk in truth, and let their lives be about declaring His name and renown. That's honestly all that truly mattered to me in those moments. I was consumed with the desire for His will to be done in my family, with or without me.

The ultrasound revealed everything to be fine, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I am truly grateful. But now that I know it is, how will I live? Spending this gift called life on myself, my comforts, my own desires, making a way for myself?

My life verses are from Isaiah 61, and verse 3 says that the LORD planted me and established me TO DISPLAY HIS SPLENDOR. That is why I'm here--TO DISPLAY HIS SPLENDOR. So if that means I have 3 more years or 30 more years, in the days that God gave me to live I am here TO DISPLAY HIS SPLENDOR.

I'm going to fail. And at times I'm going to mistakenly think something about my life from the cradle to the grave is somehow about me. But at the heart of it, I want to bring God glory. Why do I want to live? To do just that. And at the end of the time here, it'll be just the beginning of living in the presence of His glory.

* Why do you want to live?

For me, to live is Christ
and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


"Oh, my word, I could HUG YOU!" I said to my friend Angie when she brought me a Coke in the hospital after I'd had my son. I'd had this insatiable craving for soda, and once I had delivered, I was so ready to have an ice cold bubbly Coke.

Well, guess what a nursing mother should most certainly NOT drink, unless she wants her newborn to get all hopped up on caffeine? Let's just say that Night Two of my son's life was a little rough.

It didn't even occur to me that what I was guzzling down was going to affect my child. And that it wasn't gonna be pretty.

When one of my children was still quite young, I used to watch old episodes of "Friends," without concern that they would pick up on anything. At that young age, surely everything would go right over their heads, right? Nope. My child heard--and learned--an unsavory word (a word my husband and I do not say, thank you, Joey and Rachel), and then proceeded to say this unsavory word at a birthday party with a lot of my husband's co-workers within earshot. Good times.

What I was taking in was affecting my children more than I realized.

But then just yesterday as we were driving, I overheard my child singing quietly in the back of the car, "My one defense, my righteousness--Oh God, how I need You." I didn't set out for my child to necessarily learn that song, but it's been what I've been listening to the car.

And what I was taking in was affecting my children more than I realized.

The conversations we have.
The shows we watch.
The music we play.
The things we read.
The places we go.
The things we do.

What we say/watch/hear/read/do will affect our children more than we realize. Maybe they're right there alongside us, seeing and hearing as we see and hear. But even if they aren't right there, the things we take in will either tender or harden us--and our sons and daughters will most certainly be affected by the overflow of our hearts.

* When you think about your children being affected by what you take in, does that make you happy...or concerned?


Monday, October 24, 2011


"When you become a mom one day, be sure to say YES when you can. And, believe me, you'll be able to say yes more than you'll realize--or sometimes more than you'll want."

I was only in high school when my mom's friend said this to me--a full 10 years before I would become a mother myself. But there was something about these words that always stuck with me.

My son's birthday was this week. One of his presents was a really cute book I found at a book fair called Yes Day. It's about a young boy who gets one "Yes" Day a year. He asks for pizza for breakfast; The answer is yes. He asks to use hair gel for spiky hair; It's a yes. He asks for a piggy-back ride, to clean his room tomorrow, to stay up late. Yes, yes, yes.

We read the book together, giggling at the fun pictures, smiling at the sweetness. And then we told our son that, on his birthday, he could have his own "Yes" Day.

I braced to have to say "No" on at least something. But you know what? I didn't have to. He didn't ask to drive the car, get a pet tarantula, or inquire about selling his sister for a Nintendo DS.

He just asked to go get frozen yogurt. He asked to follow a train that went by when we were out driving around. He asked to stop and play on the old caboose downtown. He asked to ride his bike. He even asked for some Cheese Puffs (Huh? How does he even know what those are??).

So we went for frozen yogurt. We followed the train. We got out and played on the old caboose downtown. He rode his bike. And yes, I stopped and got him some Cheese Puffs.

We didn't say "Not this time, we need to get home" when he asked to follow the train. Which is something I've totally said before, even though I had nowhere else I really had to be. I didn't say "No, buddy--maybe we'll play on the caboose later this week" like I've done in the past, simply in an effort to put him off. And when he asked for Cheese Puffs, I didn't go into some long tirade about the empty calories and chemically-processed electric-orange cheese like I totally ordinarily would have. I bought him a bag and listened to him happily crunch away in the back of the car on the way home.

It was freeing. And I think it meant more to me than it did to him.

I say NO too often--and for no good reason. "I can't sit on the floor and do a puzzle because I'll be in a world of pain if I do." Well, I did just that yesterday. Yes, it hurt (Thank you, sciatica and broken tailbone). But it also felt wonderfully right to plunk down and work on a puzzle with my kids. "No, you can't eat that. No, we can't do that. No, I'm too tired to read another book." Often my NO is spoken out of my own exhaustion or inattention, rather than a legitimate need to say no. Saying no is sometimes the easier answer--not necessarily the right answer.

My heart hurts just thinking of all the NO. Now, I'm certainly not saying I regret responding with a Necessary NO when I've had to. God has placed us over these children to give parameters and guardrails. A kindergartener has no business choosing their own diet, their own bedtime, nor their own rules on a day-to-day basis. God gives us wisdom to raise them up with boundaries for their own blessing and protection. There's a reason YES Day can't be the norm. And I can tell you that although he didn't grow an extra head from eating those Cheese Puffs, they probably won't be on next week's shopping list!

Sometimes the answer really needs to be NO. But it's the too-often-Unnecessary NO that grieves me.

Why not a YES when they want to read a fifth book? Why not a YES to stop and play on the playground when you know time will allow for it? Why not something that might make a bit of a mess, but will create a beautiful lasting memory in their minds?

I wanted to be a mom for the books and the puzzles and the painting, and to every "Can we?" to which I could say YES. Yes isn't the right answer every time, but perhaps it is more often than we may think.

And when we don't always make NO our Go-To answer without cause, it just might make our NO carry a little more weight when it has to get said.


Sunday, October 23, 2011


I think $1 million is just crazy money. If my husband and I worked for 23 years and didn't spend a dime, we could finally bank $1 million.

But not Bill Gates. He's worth $56 billion. That's 56,000-millions of dollars.
Beyond crazy money! That guy could buy his own football team with the change he finds in his couch cushions. He could do a crazy spending spree, and it would hardly make a dent.

But he COULD run out of money. He could spend every penny. He could exhaust it all. It would take a lot, for sure--but it could happen.

I think sometimes we view Christ's love like Bill Gates' net worth. Yes, His love is crazy plentiful--we'll readily accept that. But as much as we know in our heads that there's no limit to His love, I think there's something in me and maybe in you that wrestles with the lie that I can somehow exhaust it.

Yes, His love is huge and vast. But what if I manage to selfish-and-stupid my way to the end of His love for me?

Yes, His love surpasses any love we know here on this earth. But what if there's just enough of His love for a million of my failures--but I somehow reach a million and one?

It's true--God's love is huge and vast and all-surpassing.

But it is also inexhaustible.



If we sin a million times, His love is available for the next million. He meets us in our shattered state, binds up our brokenness, and keeps on loving out of His unending love for us.

"His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me."

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him."
Psalm 103:8,11

I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28-29

LYRICS: "One Thing Remains" by Jesus Culture

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Children selling cigarettes. Yep.

When I was in fourth grade, a group of my classmates decided to make fake cigarettes and cigarette boxes out of paper and tape. Then they sold these "cigarette boxes" to other classmates for 25 cents.

When our teacher found out,
she was LIVID at them! But not for the reason you'd think.

You see, she wasn't too ruffled over the idea of 8-year olds making and selling fake cigarettes and pretending to smoke. But she was
extremely upset that they were using her supply of paper and tape to do it.

Somehow it seemed that her concern was a bit...
misplaced. In all her huff about the students using her paper and tape, she missed the most important element of the situation.

The Pharisees too were notorious for getting riled up about the wrong thing and missing the bigger picture. There was a man with a shriveled hand who sought healing from Jesus. The Pharisees wanted to see if Jesus would break the rules by healing this man on the Sabbath--and if He dared to healed the man's hand, they were ready to be all over that like white on rice, shaking their fingers and accusing him of wrongdoing!

Jesus called them out for worrying about the wrong thing.
"Which is lawful to do on the Sabbath--" He asked those ready to accuse Him--"to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed by their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." The man stretched out his hand and it was completely restored (Mark 3:1-6). And ooh, were the Pharisees riled up! Enough so to get the ball rolling on a plot to have Jesus killed.

The Pharisees weren't itching to
praise God for the healing of this man--they were ready to judge Him for ministering to someone on the Sabbath. And as tireless lovers of the law, they would not stand for such a thing. They couldn't see that a man's hand was restored after years of uselessness. They just saw that it had been done on the Sabbath, and were none too pleased about it.

How are we too focused on the wrong thing? Do we get nit-picky and legalistic over the details, sometimes totally missing the miracles of what God is doing?

* In what ways are we like the Pharisees--loving laws and rules more than the work of God?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Picture a muzzle. Think of what it's for. It's a tool of submission and silence.

Jesus used a "muzzle" once. He was in Capernaum, teaching with great authority in the synagogue. Just then a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began crying out, asking if Jesus had come to destroy them.

"Jesus cut him short. 'Be quiet!' He said sternly. 'Come out of this man,' He ordered. The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek (Mark 1:21-26).

Jesus didn't let this evil spirit continue to have the floor--he cut him off. The Greek word for what Jesus did in telling the spirit within the man to be quiet was *phimoo* which means to muzzle. He basically silenced and subdued that evil spirit with His words.

I believe that, in Christ, we have the same authority to cut the enemy off when he begins speaking. Who says we have to sit and listen to the father of lies? Do I really have to listen to him spew belittling and venomous words? And do you really have to give ear to his deceptive whispers about who you are and what you should do? Should he continue to find an audience with you and me?


In the authority that comes through the blood of Jesus Christ, I believe we can--and should--cut Satan short. Stop him mid-sentence. Silence him with the Word of truth. The moment he begins to taunt or tempt or torment, we can come at the evil one with Scripture--and muzzle him.

When the enemy opens his mouth, feel free to interrupt. It's the one time it's okay to cut someone off.


Friday, October 14, 2011


Just in the past few weeks I keep hearing the first half of James 1:27 quoted. Like, I've heard/read it a number of times. But not one of those times was the second half of the verse included. And I think it's because James 1:27B can be a harder pill to swallow than James 1:27A.

Here's the whole verse:

(A) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after the fatherless and the widow in their distress (B) and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27

And then when I looked it up in my own Bible, I noticed that at some point I had underlined the first half of the verse at some point--but not the second half! "What's the deal with the second part of this verse?" I wondered. It just kept getting left out every time the verse was mentioned.

Since we're reading James in our small group, I brought this up for discussion: Is it perhaps easier for us to look after the fatherless and the widow in their distress than to do what it takes to keep oneself from being polluted by the world?

"I think so," said someone in the group. "Because I can write a check to give money to some people in need somewhere, but that doesn't mean I have to personally change how I'm living."


And it's true--somehow I do find it easier to do things like visit those in affliction or minister to the devastated than to personally refrain from what will stain me. Because what that looks like in your life and mine is:

*Skipping certain television shows and movies that are hilarious--but inappropriate for us who are called to keep ourselves unpolluted by the world. This one's not easy! We like our entertainment and can really let our guard down in this area. I know it's a frequent battle for me.

*Deciding it's not an option to be involved in salacious conversations. And while I may not be a big gossip girl, I know it's broader than that. It means not being sucked into the tabloids in the checkout line, or desiring to read about celeb scandals on the internet. This can be a tough one for me. But there's no other way to say it than this: Getting pulled into those is like taking part in a slanderous conversation, because even though we may not be the ones doing the talking, we're still choosing to listen to the words.

*Setting up parameters WAY far back from the line when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. Adultery is rampant. Rampant! And the pull to it is strong, yet subtle. And sometimes this "WAY far back" thing is inconvenient. But it's part of keeping unpolluted by something that is prevalent in the world (not to mention well-worth whatever inconvenience is suffered in choosing this route).

*Not allowing money--or the seemed security of "enough" money (whatever dollar amount that might be!) to become our pursuit. Money itself is not the problem--but the love of money corrupts and pollutes. And refusing God a portion of what is His anyway is part of this. Holding "our" money in our tightly-clenched fists is a sign that the world has managed to pollute our thinking about money, and whose it really is.

Somehow it is easier to write a check, or make a meal, or pay a visit to the hurting than it is to NOT become like this world. Yes, we are to minister to the fatherless and widows in their suffering. Of course.

"But undefiled worship is (also) this: To keep oneself from being unstained by the world" (James 1:27B).

Yep, seems to me that if God included part B, then it's worth a mention and an underline.

Not to mention the action it requires of you and me so that it may be true of us.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


"There you go!" my tiny little girl said proudly as she "pushed" open the door at church for me.

Only she didn't push it open for me. I pushed it open for her.

There is no way she has in her what it takes to open those heavy glass doors on her own. But when she pressed her hands against the door and pushed, I was right behind her putting my hands on the door and pushing it open. In her mind, though, she was the one who had done it.

As this scenario was unfolding, it felt familiar. Perhaps because it wasn't the first time someone has said "I did it!" without cause. Scripture is full of people who did not recognize God's hand in their circumstances. Even in this day and age, this world echoes the words spoken in Deuteronomy 32: "Our hand has triumphed--the Lord has not done all of this" (v.27).

Even my own mirror shows the face of someone who is not always aware of God's hand just plain accomplishing. Working. Fulfilling. I start thinking it's my doing. This must've all been the works of my hands, right? After all, those are the hands I can actually see pushing against the doors.

But let's be clear: I am not making a way for God. He is making a way for His will to be done. And in doing so, He is making a way for me.

Mighty God, thank You for this picture. I can see my own hands on a door that I couldn't possibly open on my own. And should it open and the only hands I see are mine, help me to perceive that Your strong and able hands were over mine, doing what I could not do on my own!


Saturday, October 8, 2011


"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak, and slow to become angry."

James 1:19

I've read and heard this passage plenty of times, but this morning it came to life in a new way. I looked up the Greek word for "listen," and found that one of the meanings of the Greek word AKOUO is *to be in the audience.*

To be in the audience. I know I'm going to be chewing on that one for awhile.

Because--and especially for those who feel comfortable on a stage--center stage can have much more of a pull on us than an audience chair. The former holds the possibility of being heard and understood--and the latter, listening and learning.

But there's something in you and me that is drawn toward being heard and understood more than listening and learning.

We want the spotlight! Whether it's in a discussion or an argument, we may interrupt or even raise our voices, all in our desperate attempts to be heard and understood. I know I've been guilty of that.

But what if we were so desperate to listen and learn?
What if we were so hungry to hear what others have to say than to have the chance to say what we think?

What if we didn't clamor for center stage?

And what if you and I were willing to choose the audience seat?


Thursday, October 6, 2011


Last year I was at a yard sale with tables full of children's clothes. As I was looking through what they had, I overheard the homeowner's mother telling a shopper, "My daughter-in-law passed away two years ago. She worked all the time because it was always really important to afford cute clothes for her kids."

I turned around to see the woman smiling as she said these words. I thought she was saying them with sadness, but when I saw her face I realized she'd spoken them with a great sense of pride and joy.

I cringed inside. Now, I truly mean no dishonor to a woman who has passed on or to her family, but to be honest, I could not possibly care less if anyone says of me when I die that it was super important to me to have my kids well-dressed, or that I spent a lot of time ensuring it would be so. Sure, it's fun to get kids dressed up. But boy, do I ever hope other things than that spring to mind when my life is summarized in words.

But it got me thinking--what WILL people say of me when I die? What will they say mattered to me? How will they say I spent my time? What will they say burdened me? Broke my heart? Brought me joy?

When I'm remembered, will I be connected with trivial things? Maybe. Gosh, I hope not. But yes--maybe.

I wondered--If the people who know me best are to one day speak to my life and have to capture my life in only a few sentences, what will be said?

I'd be most interested in what Justin, my kids, my family, and my closest friends would have to say. I wish I could hear their unfiltered perceptions of what they perceived to matter to me. And it's not because I think it would all be glowing. It wouldn't! Those closest to me know that, really, truly, the only good in me is God within me, willing me to act according to His good purposes. Apart from His love and mercy, I am one broken girl.

There's just something in me that wishes I could hear it all now, when there's still time to change some things.

If there was time I was spending on something unimportant, I'd want to hear it. And stop.

If there were things I was called to do but never got around to it, I'd want to hear it. And start.

If my words weren't loving enough, I'd want to hear it. And change them.

If my actions didn't line up with what I said was true, I'd want to hear it. And get busy living like I say I believe.

If there were wrongs I didn't make right, I'd want to hear it. And right them.

If my priorities were out of whack, I'd want to hear it. And reevaluate them.

My Grandpa Tom died a year ago today. And I still say that he lived on purpose with his eyes on Heaven more than almost anyone else I've ever known. Do I say it to be nice--even respectful? No. I say it because of all the things I could say about him, it's the thing that jumps out the most about him as the mark of his life. So to sum up the 85-year life span of my grandfather in a nutshell, he loved Jesus and knew he was just passing through this life on his way home to be with Him.

It doesn't matter to me if anyone ever says I dressed cute (Uh, they won't, I promise!) or that I was brilliant or successful (Again, they won't--my SAT score would convince you). I hope I'm remembered to be a loving wife and a mom who cared desperately about leaving a legacy. And in time, give it maybe 50 years after I'm gone, my name won't be remembered anyway. And I'm okay with that. I want this life I've been given to be about lifting up His name. And I hope the Kingdom of God will be advanced in small part through the life He gave me.

When the music fades into the past
When my days of life are through
What will be remembered from where I've come
When all is said and done?

Will they say I loved my family,
That I was a faithful friend?
That I lived to tell of God's own Son
When all is said and done?

Of how I longed to see the hour
When I would hear that trumpet sound
And rise to see my Savior's face,
See Him smile and say, "Well done."

You can forget my name
and the songs I've sung

Every rhyme and every tune
But remember the truth of Jesus' love
When all is said and done.

-GEOFF MOORE - "When All is Said and Done"

* Would you want to pre-hear what will one day be said about you? If you could hear people's unfiltered perceptions of what they believe mattered to you in your life, do you think it would change anything about the way you live?

Teach us to number our days aright,
that we might gain a heart of wisdom.
May the favor of the LORD our God
rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us,
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Psalm 90:12, 17