Friday, September 30, 2011


There's an excuse--a pretty common one--that many of us use to not intentionally pursue using the gifts and talents God has given us.

At the Quitter Conference, Ben Arment told a story of a conversation he had with a woman about her longing to use her talents as a nurse. She was 35 and the nursing program would take her about 5 years to complete with her current schedule. "I just don't know about starting up this whole program when I know I will be FORTY by the time those 5 years pass," she reasoned.

And Ben responded, "You'll be forty when those 5 years pass regardless. You might as well be a nurse at the end of them."

And it's true. Here's a woman who believes God has woven into her specific gifts and talents to minister to people through nursing. But her fear of how long things might take to be able to serve in that capacity was lulling her into inaction.

I can be right there, too. Can you? If I can't be at the end of the process fairly quickly, I'm not sure I want to start it. Even if it means doing what God made me to do.

I'll be 35 in a few weeks. That story really resonates with me because even now I am tempted to shove my talents in the ground and walk away (an act that in Scripture was referred to as wicked and lazy--ouch!), all because I know that it may take years to really gain any sort of momentum in doing what I really, really feel called to do. I can see how my fear of how long things might take to be able to serve in this capacity is tempting to lull me into inaction.

Yes, I'll soon be hitting that lovely halfway mark between 30 and 40. And it's hard not to think that by the time I gain any sort of momentum in my ministry, it'll be too late. But something tells me that when we throw out phrases like "Too late," God is up there chuckling about our misunderstanding of time. I wanted to be serving in this capacity a decade ago. And five years ago, I started chomping at the bit. But what if I wasn't ready five years ago? I must not have been. And what if it isn't until I'm 40, or 40+ that God will use me in this capacity? Does that mean I shouldn't even bother walking in that direction now?

Will we be paralyzed from pursuing the calling God has on us, simply because it might take some time? Or will we be obedient to take the daily steps of our calling, no matter how long it may take to see fruit?

Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the LORD a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
2 Peter 3:8

Be very careful how you live--not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the LORD is."
Ephesians 5:15-16

Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will be pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.
Ernest Nightingale

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Last weekend we went apple picking and pumpkin patch-ing, one of our favorite fall traditions. You'd think there would still be plenty of apples the third weekend in September, but it was a little picked-over! After wandering from tree to tree finding nothing, I saw this yellow beauty hanging in a tree. (Happy dance!) I imagined taking the first crunchy, sweet bite as I reached up to pluck the perfect fruit from the tree...
...aaand *SQUISH* ...
My fingers met a mess of goo as they wrapped around the apple. The front side had caught my eye with its seemed perfection. How verdant! How sweet, I imagined.

Nope. How rotten.

So let me ask--What's your *SQUISH* story? We've all got one. What has managed to catch your eye, only to land you a handful of rot? When was the last time you were enticed, only to see something for what it really was once you could see it from another angle?

Maybe it was buyer's remorse. A relationship that was nothing like you thought it would be. A decision made that appeared harmless on the front end, but was anything but.

LORD, give us wisdom to look at things from all sides before we proceed. What looks enticing on the front side may really be rotten--help us to walk in wisdom and approach what appears perfect with caution. Your Word is perfect, Your way is flawless. And the enemy tries to make worthless and dangerous things visually appealing--even perfect. But give us pause and discernment when we find ourselves wanting what we're convinced is without flaw.

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
but the folly of fools is deception.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 14: 8, 12

Monday, September 26, 2011


"You tell on yourself by the friends you choose."

King Jehoshaphat wanted to consult the LORD. He asked his servants to find him a prophet of God. One servant replied, "Elisha is around here--the one who was Elijah's right-hand man."

"Good! A man we can trust!" was Jehoshaphat's response.

And just like that, Elisha was ushered in. And really, Elisha's "in" was his association with Elijah. He was pre-trusted because of his connection to one who was known to be a man of God (2 Kings 3).

What do our associations say about us? And the company we choose to keep--what will others know about us based on those with whom we choose to spend our time?

We've been talking about this with our son lately as he navigates his way through friendships at school. We've said that he is to be kind to all and unkind to no one--but that he can--and should--exercise wisdom in choosing friends with whom he will truly connect himself. We're trying to help him figure out the elementary school version of walking with the wise.

And it's true, isn't it? Right or wrong, people make assumptions about us based on the character of those with whom we choose to surround ourselves. On Twitter when I'm figuring out whether or not to follow someone I don't know, I often look to their associations. Who follows them? Who are they following? There are times I follow because I trust their associations, and times I don't because I don't.

"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm" (Proverbs 13:20). Those are two opposite-extremes outcomes! Growing wise because you've chosen to walk alongside those with wisdom--or suffering harm because of associations with those who choose folly. Opposite ends of the spectrum, for sure.

So based on your current friendships, are you destined to grow in wisdom, or to suffer harm? I'm not asking what you'd prefer to happen; We'd all choose to grow in wisdom, hands down. But based on your current connections and associations, can others assume you can be trusted? Can wisdom be your expected outcome?

Or should you anticipate being hit by the shrapnel of folly because you're standing way too close to fools?


Friday, September 23, 2011


This morning my son came downstairs into the dark to find me.

"Hey, Mommy?" he whispered.

"I'm here, Trev."

"I was thinking it would be good if, before our day starts, we could just sit and have a moment together."

I beamed. He couldn't see my smile, but I was thrilled he wanted to spend a bit of time with me before the day got underway.

We sat together in the dark, in the quiet of the early morning. We talked about picking out just the right hat for hat day, I told him today was his day to go to health class, and we prayed over the details of his day. That time was pretty simple. But it was really wonderful.

As I had my boy all wrapped up in my arms, I thought of how it pleases our God when we want to spend time with Him before our day gets underway. I pictured His delight in talking through the details of our day, and in our acknowledging Him before we hit the ground running.

He beckons us to a still, quiet moment with Him to order our day, to say "You are my God and I acknowledge this day as Yours" even before breakfast gets made, coffee gets brewed, and before we brave the morning traffic or tackle the day's To-Do List. First things first--sinking into God and declaring the day to be His and for His glory.

I'd forgotten how simple it can be. And how really wonderful.



What part of your children do you love the most? Maybe it's his crater-deep dimples. Perhaps you love her tiny freckles that look like flecks of gold dusted across her nose. Or maybe it's their kissable chubby cheeks.

For me, it's my son's legs and my daughter's heart.

I see the glory of God when I look at my son's legs. When I was 17 weeks pregnant, we went to doctor for our "Boy or Girl?" ultrasound visit. And as the doctor moved the wand back and forth over my growing belly, I saw on the screen a complete leg--femur, bent knee, tibia and fibula. It was so whole and so perfect. My son's entire body was only about 5 inches long in total from head to toe, and he weighed only 5 ounces at that point--Yet there it was. His beautiful, magnificent, glory-covered little leg. He was being knit together inside me--a thought I can hardly fully take in. And so now when I see him run and play soccer and ride his bike, I see those legs and think, "Glory to God."

I love my daughter's heart. It's obviously not something I can see, but sometimes when she hugs me close, I can feel her heart beating. And when I do, I get a glimpse of the glory of God. The sound is like a precious reminder of the way the LORD sustained, and continues to sustain, her life. Her heart beating is what allows us to hold her in our arms and watch her dance and grow and laugh and live. And it's a reminder that the absence of a heartbeat is why we have yet to hold our second son. During our second pregnancy, we had no concerns and took for granted that all would be fine. But a routine ultrasound found no heartbeat. We were devastated. But then came our daughter, our little A.G. With every prenatal appointment, I gratefully drank in the sound of her heartbeat streaming through on the little doppler machine. It was a glorious sound. Truly a GLORY-ous sound. Because even then, our Heavenly Father was fashioning my daughter's heart, strengthening it and enabling it to sustain her life. Glory to God.

You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-17

Father, I love seeing Your glory splashed all over Your creation, but what a gift to see it on my own children. They have been fashioned for the very things of GOD! I'm just amazed at the works of Your hands. I praise You because they are fearfully and wonderfully made, and all I can ask is that his little legs will carry him to do Your work, and that her heart will be full of compassion, burdened for the lost, and consumed with love for You.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


I've always wondered how they come up with the pull date to stamp on milk cartons. I'm sure there's some scientific way they go about it. Or maybe Jerry Seinfeld is right in his bit about the cows being the ones to tip off the milkers, turning around during the milking and whispering, "This stuff's July 3rd." :)

Either way, I totally buy into it. The milk in my fridge is stamped October 2nd, and I fully believe that milk will be good right up until the 2nd--and probably not a moment after. And standing in my kitchen getting a bowl of cereal ready, I have all the faith in the world in the little date that someone somewhere stamped on the side of my milk carton.

Why then am I less convinced about some of the things I read in the Word of God? Why do I put more stock in the pull date on my milk than in truths like

"The last will be first and the first will be last" (Matthew 20:16). If I really believe this, then there's really no need to worry about my ranking. In anything. I don't need to go first. I don't need to be at the front of the line. I don't have to even be right.

"Honor the LORD with your wealth and with all the firstfruits of your produce; Then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine" (Proverbs 3:9-10). It's right there in my Bible, but do I believe it? Am I totally convinced I can take that truth to the bank--and literally, to my bank account?

"He forgives all your sins--as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:3, 12). Do I believe He's really talking about my sins? All of them? Am I slam-dunk convinced that His mercy is available to the areas in which I need it most?

And not only are we believing Him on the promises in His Word--are we convinced His warnings are certainly worth our heeding? Yep, I'm a believer that the jug of milk in my refrigerator is going to spoil after October 2nd, and am not about to try drinking of it after that point. But are we believing God's warnings that are stamped into the pages of our Bibles?

Do we believe that debt enslaves the borrower to the lender?
That the pursuit of any sort of illegitimate relationship will lead to entrapment?
That nagging is like a constant dripping to those who hear it?
That gossip separates close friends?
That pride precedes a fall?
That he who has the Son has life, but he who does not have the Son does not?

It seems sometimes we treat what we read in God's Word as just words, or even as nice ideas or mere suggestions rather than the definitive authority for our lives. I know I'm guilty of that. But we can take truth to the bank--both promises and warnings. If it's in the Bible, it is a given. It is certain. It is sure.

And it is far more worthy of my trust than some date on the side of a milk carton.

LORD, convince us in a new way of the truth we're encountering in Your Word. You've given it to us and fully intended it to be the last word--the perfect authority--in our lives. Strengthen us to completely trust in what we find on those pages.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Do the next right thing. Do the next obedient thing.

I have been in a searching season. Decisions need to be made. Steps need to be taken...or not. I have sat staring at the ocean, praying for answers. I have stared into the night sky for hours, asking the LORD to make His ways known. I have read my Bible in the quiet of the mornings, hoping to gain understanding.

Step-by-step instructions would've been nice, but they haven't come. In fact, God has been largely silent but for this one thing that He seems to be declaring with a megaphone:

Just do the next right thing. Do the next obedient thing.

And so I'm really evaluating how I'm ALREADY doing with what God has ALREADY placed in my path. I'm coming up short, I tell you. I'm coming face to face with my failures. I need to be more faithful with the very step I'm on. And the next step. And the one after that.

I need to be a better wife. I need to be a better mom. Yes, I'm a good wife and a good mom. But they could have more of me. They could have more of my focus. They could have my attention in undivided form.

That's the next right thing. That's the next obedient thing. Being more mentally present during the kids' bedtime routines, even when I'm suffering from end-of-the-day burnout. Taking time to be still--together. Getting the clean laundry off our dining room table and into drawers. Carving out time with Justin. Streamlining the way I pack my son's lunch to make our mornings more peaceful.

None of those things seem all that spectacular. But they are the next right things. They are the next obedient things. They are the "Whatever you do, do it with all your heart as though you were working for the LORD" things. They are the next immediate, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road things I need to be doing.

And it's more than that. Doing the next obedient thing often means OBEYING the commands that we
already know from Scripture.

Like praying for my enemies.
Choosing to forgive.
Encouraging someone.
Confessing sin.
Keeping my words pure.
Hiding God's Word in my heart.
Being honest.
Trusting God. Really trusting Him.

Yes, there are still big-picture decisions that need to be made, still steps that either need to be taken, or not.

But first come the steps I already know I'm supposed to be taking.

He has shown you what is good
and what the LORD requires of you:

To do justly
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

* What are YOUR next right things?


Monday, September 19, 2011


I am really excited to share "Collide" with you! This is the new name for this blog. I still have a passion to speak His truth, of course. :) But I love how His truth collides with our day-to-day lives.

Many thanks to the wonderful Amanda over at Royal Daughter Designs for sharing her creativity and gift of design!


Friday, September 16, 2011


Twice today I had the right-of-way out on the road, only to have the other driver go ahead, cut me off, and go speeding off down the road. Twice!

It's not like I laid on the horn in anger or expressed my frustration with interesting hand gestures or anything like that. But I did kind of hope that a cop would be waiting to catch each one of them speeding. Ah, what a little slice of Vindication Pie that would be...

But a few months ago when I got pulled over for speeding, I wanted grace more than anything. And I didn't get it. Unless the word "grace" also means "A big fat traffic violation fine."

What is it in me--maybe in you, too--that wants justice for others but grace for myself? The thing is, I'm not usually like some Pharisee who looks with disdain on the broken or loves to see the guilty squirm. For all my faults, God has allowed me to see others with mercy. But rather than hoping that a couple of selfish drivers get their due while I skate by unpunished, why not pray for the justice and grace of God to prevail as He sees best? Sometimes that means justice for you and grace for me. And sometimes it's the other way around.

LORD, Your way is perfect. Work on my heart so that rather than wanting consequence for others and grace for myself, I'll love Your flawless justice and Your lavish grace, always administered according to Your perfect purposes. You have been so loving to discipline me when it's been necessary, but You have also shown me grace I couldn't even begin to deserve.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved through faith--and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God--not by works, so that no man can boast.
Ephesians 2:6-9


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I am the proud new owner of a rabbit named Monty.

Well, I'm sometimes his owner, anyway.

This adorable, fuzzy guy spends Monday through Friday hanging out in Justin's classroom as one of his many class pets. Then on the weekends, Monty comes home and stays with us.

So I spend my weekends as a rabbit owner, but there's nothing about my Monday through Friday that indicates I own a rabbit on the weekends.

Once Monday rolls around, there's no cage, no big bag of rabbit food, no floppy-eared critter hopping around our living room. No evidence of what took place over the weekend. You could walk into my house on Wednesday afternoon and have no clue a rabbit was ever there, unless I happen to miss one of his special little "rabbit presents" as I'm cleaning up!

Sometimes I think we can compartmentalize our faith and worship in a similar way. We can raise our hands and feel a lot of compelling emotions as we sing in church, we can feel challenged and encouraged as the pastor delivers his message. We might live one way on a Sunday morning...

...but our Monday through Friday holds little evidence to what took place over the weekend.

It's tough to live a life of authentic worship every day. A typical Monday through Friday demands a lot! And on top of that, attempts to distract, disarm and destroy us are constantly coming at us. No wonder it's a challenge to walk out of the sanctuary on Sunday morning where worship is not just allowed to happen, but it what's supposed to happen--and head into a world that is ambivalent to our lifestyle of worship.

Jon Acuff writes of this in his legendary "Booty, God, Booty" post on Stuff Christians Like. He used to listen to a rap/R&B station on the radio that had something called an "Inspirational Vitamin" each day, which was basically a Bible verse or a gospel song sandwiched between two songs about hot women and gettin' your drink on. He called this the "Booty, God, Booty" formula, and tied this into how we live. And it's true--sometimes we try to wedge a little bit of Jesus in between our other completely-unrelated activities of our day-to-day lives.

But our rest-of-the-week is supposed to match our Sunday. If I am moved by the love and grace of Christ on Sunday morning, then you should be able to tell that if you run into me on a Tuesday afternoon. Even if I'm standing in the checkout line behind the "extreme couponer" with 78 coupons who is trying to get $400 dollars worth of cereal for 34 cents.

And if you are moved toward selflessness as you sit in a church pew, there should be some evidence of that when your Friday night rolls around. Even if you don't get your way. Even if you're worn out. And sometimes even if your husband suggests seeing the latest Transformers movie when you'd rather pluck your eyes out. Don't know where I might've come up with that last one.

We can't compartmentalize our love for Jesus--It is supposed to spill over into every area, every crack and crevice of our lives. Sure, I can be a "sometimes" rabbit owner. But there's no room for me to be a "sometimes" follower of Christ.

What is the area in which you most battle being a "sometimes" follower of Christ?


Into blogging? Here's a must-read book for you:
The very funny Bryan Allain's new book "31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo" comes out today. Last week I finished my review copy, and it was an insightful, practical, hilarious, easy read (I'm known to get a headache when I read things by J. I. Packer or Chaucer, so this was right up my alley).

Broken up into 31 days, each chapter gives a daily assignment to really consider how you can evaluate and improve your blog. I am keeping a journal about my insights and am working through the daily assignments even now. And for a girl like me who loves, loves, loves to laugh, this book delivers excellent information in a laugh-outloud kind of way. Perfect combination!

Here's the worth of reading through a book like this one (and really the bottom line for me): If you are going to take even two minutes of your own valuable time to head over to this blog, I want to have something of value waiting for you here. I don't take that lightly. That's why this book is such a good read--I am excited to improve this blog. I want to be even more intentional as I write. I want to remember those who are reading. And more than anything, I want excellence because it honors God. I have cut out a lot of things to protect my family time, but blogging is one of the things that remains. So I want it to be worth your time to read it--and my time to write it.

So check out "Blogging Mojo." It's available on for $4.99 (e-book format) and is well-worth every penny!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


No exceptions. Whenever I read those words, there's something in me that thinks "Really? No exceptions? What if there are unusual circumstances? What if there's something really outrageous that happens? Really, truly, no exceptions?"

Right. No exceptions.

When we are commanded not to worry, there are NO exceptions to this command.

But what if I am looking at my bank statement and don't know how this stack of bills is going to get paid?

No worrying. No exceptions.

I've been without a job for 8 months.

No worrying. No exceptions.

My child just went off to college in another state.

No worrying. No exceptions.

Probably the MOST common one I've heard is when people think they are justified in their worry over their children. And hey, I've been here myself:

I get to worry over this one. I lost a child to miscarriage before she came along, so she is a miracle to me.

I have to worry over my son. We didn't think we could have children, yet here he is, and I don't want anything to happen to him.

I'm allowed to worry over my daughter. She has respiratory issues that can become severe.

Please understand my heart here--I'm calling out the sin of worry without at all downplaying how precious our kids are to us. I'm not saying we shouldn't take care and be cautious in making sure our children are safe. That's our job!!


"Do not worry about ANYTHING, but by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6).

Our worry is replaced with the action of praying grateful prayers. Instead of worrying, we're bringing our petitions to the God of all peace--a peace that surpasses our understanding and covers our hearts and minds. It's not doing nothing when we worry. It's doing the best possible thing instead of worrying. And we are able to forego worry because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (v. 13).

Francis Chan writes in Crazy Love, "Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives. Worry communicates that it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional."

Wow. That paragraph kicked my butt. It even got a rise out of that part of me that always feels the need to question the whole idea of "no exceptions."

But if I'm honest, I have to acknowledge this as a true word! Did God ever say "Trust me in all things. Unless the adoption process takes longer than expected--then feel free to worry away!" or even "Trust me and do not worry. Unless, of course, you have a child with a peanut allergy--that's just way beyond My ability to handle--you get a Free Worry Pass on that one!"?

Is anything too hard for the LORD? Are we justified in our worry over anything?

Trust Him completely. With anything. And everything. And anyone.

No worrying.

No exceptions.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I'm a normal, red-blooded woman in that I'm a total sucker for the song The Way You Look Tonight. It's just one of those lovely songs that gets me every time.

One of my favorite lines in the song is, "There is nothing for me but to love you." And tonight while I was out on an errand, those words kept running through my mind. I was praying, finding myself in a place of total surrender, and realized I'm ruined for all else but trusting God. There is nothing, no one else for me.

There is nothing for me but to love You, LORD.

There is nothing for me but to trust You.

There is nothing for me but to hope in You.

There is nothing for me but to obey You.

There is no real option but for me to put every last ounce of my trust in the One who is totally worthy of it.

Come what may, there is nothing else for me.

Have you found yourself in this place? It's not always an easy place to be, because arriving there usually means you've managed to exhaust a heck of a lot of other options in your own strength.

Nope, not an easy place to be. But a sweet place. A safe place.

And really, the only place.

There is nothing for me but to love You.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Ever felt like you would willingly walk down whatever path God told you to--if only you could figure out which one it was?

I find myself standing in front of paths. Like, three different paths. The time is approaching for me to start walking down one.

I just don't know which one.

Two paths are safer. One is scary, but holds amazing potential. I keep asking myself, "Does God always call us to the scary path? Sometimes, yes. But always? Like, this time?" Just don't know. I know God has called His followers to many an adventure, to things that required Him to come through. He's called ME to some things that have rocked my world and demonstrated His ability to move mountains. Is this one of these times? Or is it a still-risky-yet-safer path that's meant for me in this particular instance?

I wish I knew.

Because honestly, the "scary" stuff on the "scary" path does not scare me nearly as much as not being where God wants me.

I do not want to run down a road not meant for me. Nor do I want to shrink back in fear and miss the path on which He intends to show Himself faithful. I am far less concerned about how the risky path will work out than I am about missing what God wants me to do.

I wish God would just spell it out for me, but I don't know that I'll look up into the sky and see the answer written in the clouds. I'm just praying. A lot. I'm seeking wisdom in the Word, but am still unclear how it translates to this decision. I doubt my pastor will say from the stage tomorrow, "Hey Thea--pick path #3." But I trust the LORD will speak. I love Him so much. He knows my heart. He will make clear the way for me in whatever way He chooses.

Thank You, Almighty God, for the comfort I find in this:

I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. And you shall seek (baqash * ask, beg, consult, inquire, plead, pursue, search out) me and find (matsa * discover, find, locate) me when you shall search for (darash * question, search carefully, consult, inquire of) me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

* Have you ever wished God would spell it out for you?

Thursday, September 1, 2011


What was your main reason for joining a small group? Were you looking to meet some new friends? Gain some accountability? Make a ginormous church feel a little more personal? Have free chips and killer spinach dip once a week?

Or was it to spur on and be spurred on? To come alongside others and have them come alongside you? To laugh, learn, and yes, "do life" together?

Justin and I got involved with a small group several years ago for all these things. But lately I have been praying over something I wanted to keep private until I have it all figured out. I wanted to be able to give an answer on the back end as to how everything came together.

And then my friend B said something last night at small group, and I realized that my decision to share after the fact made no sense. Why would I not want these amazing people in on the along-the-way process?

I guess I was, in some ways, looking to show up shallow and go home the same way. Maybe I arrived thinking more about catching up over chips and dip than actually being vulnerable. I was excited to see my friends but didn't anticipate sharing. I would have been fine having someone else open up, but I had no plans to do that myself.

But that wasn't in the works. Vulnerability was. And, against my best efforts to conceal it, so was the Ugly Cry (dang it).

I'm not saying small groups should be counseling sessions. Probably shouldn't be, in fact. But opening up is important. Vulnerability is appropriate. Walking the path alongside others is one place where the companionship of God becomes real to us.

I left small group trusting I'm covered in prayer as we make decisions going forward. I went home knowing I'm loved.

I left with a lot more than a belly full of chips and dip.

P.S. Hey O-Siders -- think we can get a trampoline for our small group?