Thursday, May 24, 2012


Bloggers, speakers, writers...I think there's a word for us in the story of the Tower of Babel.

Because there once was one language, one speech in the world.  But then the people started plotting.  They'd build an impressively high brick tower that reached to the heavens, they'd decided, "so that we may make a name for ourselves" (Genesis 11:4).

And how did God respond to those who sought to make a name for themselves?

He confused their SPEECH.  Their words were what He targeted.  No longer were their utterances effective.   And they were scattered all over the earth.

As someone whose passion is the expression of God's Word through blogging, speaking, and writing, I feel an urgency to take notice of this because--and maybe you can relate--this can all too easily shift from prayerfully putting out a word to minister, challenge, and encourage, to getting all jumbled up in numbers, blog traffic, followers, and analytics.  

Yes, I hope people come to read.  I hope they come to hear.  I write and speak out of obedience to God but I hope the words mean something to someone.  We share our words because we hope there will be impact, and there's nothing wrong with that. 

But it can very easily cross over into a "Let us make a name for ourselves" kind of thing.  Our blogs or our teachings can become this impressively-high-brick-tower kind of thing that we look at with great pride, believing somehow we have made it ourselves.  Self-promotion kicks in, and we find ourselves fed by others' responses to our words.

I wonder how many people whose (written or spoken) words that used to come across clearly are now less effective...

Simply because it became about making a name for themselves.

LORD, I feel great caution in this story.   Turn my heart so that I hunger for YOUR name to be made great rather than mine.  Isaiah 26:8 keeps running through my head this morning: "YOUR name and renown are the desire of our hearts."  Keep the ministry of our words safe and effective as we seek to elevate YOUR name.  Forgive me for the times I've tried to make a name for myself. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012


My son did a firewalk.  Or at least he may as well have.  

"Trev, you're going to need shoes.  This pavement will burn your feet," I warned as I grabbed the pool bag from the car.  

"It's warm, but it's not burning my feet," he called to me over his shoulder as he ran on ahead onto the pavement.

And he was right.  Kind of.  It wasn't burning his feet.  

Not yet, anyway.

I called out for him to come back for his shoes, but again he said he was fine.  But about halfway down the pavement path, he began doing what looked like the potty-dance.  And I knew it couldn't be that--We're pretty well past the potty-dance phase.

No, he was doing the "Holy-shnikeys-this-asphalt-is-burning-the-flesh-off-my-feet" dance.  

A few early steps on a hot path may not seem to have an effect.  But a seemingly safe path can get hot in a real hurry. And in no time at all we find ourselves stuck out in the middle with nowhere to go, getting burned with every new step we try to take.

I ran and scooped my son off the hot ground and carried him to the relief of the cool grass nearby.  His feet were tender from the hot pavement path he'd just voluntarily taken.  

There are paths that don't seem perilous at first.  We don't feel the heat, so we proceed as though no harm awaits.  

Paths of acquiring debt.

Paths of dishonesty.

Paths of inappropriate relationships.

Paths of pornography.

We don't feel the heat from one conversation with that cute guy, one twisted truth, or one swipe of the credit card.  Which is probably why we take another step.  And another.

And eventually our loving Heavenly Father--the very One who warned us about the path--is the One who comes in, lifts us off what is burning us, and tends to our tender feet.

What's the path that seems safe--but you've received a warning about its ability to harm you?  There have been times in my life when I knew God was shouting warnings at me about a path that did not initially concern me.  And the same loving God was the One to eventually rescue me.  But not without me getting my feet burned.

Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
Can a man walk on hot coals
without his feet being scorched?
PROVERBS 6:27-28

Thank You Father that Your warnings come from Your great love for us.  I pray if anyone is perceiving that these words are a warning--perhaps even another warning--that You will strengthen them to TRUST YOU in it.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy in the times when we disregard Your warnings, but keep us seeking You so that we'll listen and sidestep the very things from which You are trying to protect us.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

THE Reason (Like There Was Only One)

The once-predictable path of my life was about to take one very sharp turn.  

I had my post-college plans all mapped out when, through a barrage of prompts, confirmations and peace, it seemed God was leading me away from California.

To Boston.

As in "never-been-there-before" Boston.

Like, "3,000-miles-away-from-everything-I'd-ever-known" Boston.

I'm talking "Don't-know-even-one-person-there" Boston.

Let's just say the whole thing sounded like a big slice of Crazy Pie.

But I went.  Just 4 months after I felt God was getting me ready for a move, I boarded a Boston-bound plane.  

And just 7 months after I got off that airplane, I met a young man named Justin Nelson.  I married him the next summer.  

It was almost as though I could hear a huge collective sigh of relief coming from California.  "So THAT'S the reason you were supposed to go to Boston!" I heard.  A lot.  Honestly, I think people were just comforted that something good came out of what they thought was a bat-crap-crazy plan on the front end.  

But THE reason?  Like there was only one?

Seems like when we're in a good situation or even a bad one, people are quick to say, "You're there for a reason."  But I kind of think nothing could be further from the truth.

You're not there for a reason.  You're there for all kinds of reasons.  

How strange to conclude that my 16 months in Boston could be summed up in one reason.

Don't get me wrong--Justin is, by far, the best, most wonderful thing that came from my time in Boston.  But I believe I was also meant to be there for the day-in, day-out stuff, too.

I was supposed to be there for the family I worked for and lived with for a year and a half. 

For the boy I helped raise.

For the sermons I heard at the church I attended there.

For the friendships that were made.

And even for the lonely times so far away from family and friends that forced me to press into Jesus and soak up His Word.

For a million different reasons, I was supposed to go to Boston.  

Before you glaze over at another quoting of Jeremiah 29:11, permit me to point out something I'd never really taken notice of until today:

For 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 future.

Plans.  Plural!  

I don't know where you find yourself today.  But consider the plans--big AND small, that He has for you there.

There's not one reason why you are where you are today.

There are too many to fathom.  



"Time for the Summer Lunch Program!" the email announced.  "We've got lots of spots to fill, so sign up today!" 

I went to the site and saw they still needed LOTS of people to make sandwiches, put carrots in baggies, and send in juice boxes.  Very few of the spots were spilled.

But ALL the spots were filled for one of the tasks:

DELIVERING the lunches.  

Of course.  Because the person delivering the lunches gets to see the wide eyes of the children and take in their beautiful smiles.  They get the applause, the chorus of "Thank you"s, and the fanfare.  They got to see the fruit at the end of the process.  

There's no fanfare for the family slapping cheese, meat and bread together in their kitchen.  No one is standing in the Costco aisle cheering on the woman loading her cart up with juice boxes for kids she'll never meet.  And a group of friends bagging up baby carrots won't make the 6:00 news.  

And if we'll dare to be totally honest, there's something in you and in me that appreciates the accolades.  We want to serve, but we gravitate toward the more visible tasks, and question the worthiness of what won't be seen.  

Jesus spoke pointedly about such things, and it made people uncomfortable.

Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men TO BE SEEN BY THEM.  If you do, you will have no reward from your father in heaven.  So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets TO BE HONORED BY MEN.  I tell you the truth, the ones who do this have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  
Matthew 6:1-4

Look, someone has to deliver the meals.  That too is an act of service.  But no more so than what the sandwich makers, who are busy planting seeds. 

When you serve the least of these, you may not experience much fanfare. 

But the applause of heaven is yours. 


Friday, May 11, 2012


Recently I blogged here about the heartwrenching day when my 4-year old collided with a YOU BREAK IT, YOU BUY IT pottery store policy. 

But this morning as I thought back to that moment, I had a different take-away.

What if I hadn't been there?  What if I hadn't walked over to the counter with my wallet to make it right?  My little girl didn't have $16.  She couldn't exactly pony up the cash for that fragmented figurine.  It wasn't like she had anything to offer that could compensate for what she had broken.  Or what if I hadn't been willing to pay for what she broke?

It's kind of like this: I broke something, too.  And the price tag was somewhere in the billions to replace.  If I couldn't manage to come up with the payment to settle the score, it would mean an eternity apart from God.

But I couldn't pay it.  I had broken God's law and even if I worked my fingers to the bone until the day I died, it wouldn't be sufficient to make it right. 

And so just as I pulled out my wallet in that pottery store to pay for what my daughter broke, my merciful Heavenly Father paid for what I have broken. 

There's nothing Liley could have done if I hadn't been there.

And there's nothing I could do, were it not for my Heavenly Father paying for my sin. 

Don't miss this.  My sins and your sins required a payment.  They had to be dealt with.  We cannot take that lightly--we just can't.  There would be no way for us apart from what He did.  How gracious, how beautiful, how loving, how good is the One who paid!

You are the treasure
I could not afford
so I'll spend myself
'til I'm empty and poor
all for You...
You revive me, LORD.
-Christy Nockels


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


When I was in college, a group of my friends got quite a surprise one night while out to dinner at a local brew house.  They arrived ravenous and couldn't wait to place their orders.

While they waited for their server, one of my friends noticed that the group who had been sitting at the table next to them had taken off and--Oh, look!--had left several hardly-touched delicious looking appetizers!

Apparently the mozzarella sticks and chicken wings beckoned my famished friends.  They looked this way and that, grabbed the plates of deliciousness from the next table, and passed them around their own.

You can imagine, then, how mortified they were when they realized the people at the next table hadn't actually left--they were simply taking a quick tour of the brew house before they decided to return to their appetizers.


My friends sheepishly admitted helping themselves to their neighbors' food and ordered them some replacements--and thankfully, everyone was able to laugh about it.

There's something about being caught, being found out, that is just cringe-inducing to us.  There are things in our hearts we hope never get uncovered, things we've done we hope stay in the dark, struggles we face that we don't care to confess.  I don't want you to know that I fight hard to stand up under certain temptations.  I want you to think I'm strong enough not to struggle at all.  

But I also know that it's actually a blessing to be busted--a gift to be found out.  The battles we face by ourselves have a far, far greater chance of bringing us down than the ones we bring to light.  

So tell on yourself.  Confession is critical in our walk with Christ.  Let yourself be found out, and find that what held you in the shadows has somehow lost its grip on you in the light.  

We don't need to live in fear of being found out, being caught.  We have already been caught in the sweetest, most freeing net of the grace of Jesus Christ.

Confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other, 
that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous man
is powerful and effective.
James 5:16

Monday, May 7, 2012


"Come check out our SPEEDY-SIZED stores!" the cheery announcer chirped on the Ace Hardware commercial my husband and I were watching the other night.

I scoffed out loud.  "Yeah, but that's just a nice way of saying 'Come check out our tiny hardware store that's easier to navigate than Home Depot or Lowe's because we have far less of a selection!'"

But I'm certainly guilty of sugar-coating myself.  I downplay my sin by calling it something more acceptable.  Maybe you do it, too.

But stubbornness is pride, even though we ask it to wear the more agreeable term "sticking to your guns."

And gossip is still gossip, even if you dress it up in a "prayer request."

And that growing friendship with the opposite sex?  It's not really "being there for someone while his marriage crumbles."  It's called a pre-affair, y'all.  

Let us look with honesty at our actions--at our sin.  Even the word "sin" seems a bit too much at times, as though "mistakes" and "weaknesses" feel a little less heavy.  

The beautiful news is that the story doesn't end with us broken over our sins, but with us being bound up by the One who forgives every one of them. 

We've got to call our sin what it is--and then bask in the joy that it's all been forgiven. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart,
test me and know my anxious thoughts.  
See if there is any offensive way in me
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24


Saturday, May 5, 2012


Can I make a confession here?

I am borderline-horrible as a homemaker.

Let's just say this is not a photo of MY pantry.  No, my house is more like stacks of clean laundry that stay on our dining room table for way too long.  Cluttered kitchen counters.  Closets in serious need of a clean sweep. 

But then there's Titus 2:4-5:
 Have the older women teach the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, 

There is a command and a call on us to be busy at home.  Busy about the things that build up our homes.  We could easily be busy about a thousand different things, but this is where we should be busy.  Busy creating order.  Busy making these places a sanctuary.  Busy ensuring things will run smoothly.  Busy blessing the people who live in it by doing all these other things

One day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed, these words kept running through my mind:


And so I began to do that.  For example, right this moment from where I'm sitting, I can see the following WRONGS:

* a pair of shorts my son dropped on the floor
* a sheet of stickers sitting on the other couch
* a book on the floor
* a school assignment my son needs to finish
* a comb sitting on the table
* a stuffed cat on the floor
* a pair of shoes sitting out
* a coloring book that didn't get put away
* a toy train car sitting on the floor
* a pen on the floor

See what I mean?  And that's just my view from the couch where I'm typing this!  I can get totally overwhelmed very quickly, and feeling overwhelmed makes me want to shut down and do nothing.

But if I will RIGHT 100 WRONGS every single day--putting away that book on the floor, wiping up that spill on the counter, straightening the towel in the bathroom, changing the paper towel roll, making that bed--each one of these things counted as a wrong that's been made right--I know I am being busy about the things of my home. 

Now that I can do!  

I want to be a good steward of the home God has given.  Off to Right 100 Wrongs. :)

Father, please strengthen us to be busy at home.  It is SO easy for us to be busy about SO many other things, but this was a priority to You, so it just plain has to be a priority to us.  Keep laziness far from us and bless and multiply our efforts to restore order to our homes, that it may serve our families well.  We love You!


Thursday, May 3, 2012


Today the unbelievable happened.  I found myself applauding the words of a Kardashian.  No, seriously.

Khloe Kardashian-Odom was interviewed about how she and her husband have had to fight for their marriage in the limelight.  And then she said something that, unfortunately, doesn't get said often in Hollywood:

"Divorce is not an option."

Well said.  And I actually think it MUST be this way--which is why Justin and I have completely omitted this one word from the vocabulary of our marriage:  


It just does not get said.  Not in reference to us, anyway.  Not even on the toughest days.  I've been a selfish, stupid idiot at times but not even in my most selfish seasons did he utter it.  Not even on our worst days have I threatened it. We've been together for 12 years and we've never even mentioned the possibility of "us" not being "us."

It's not something that has ever been on the table.  I'm broken over the fact that, in a lot of marriages, it's a word that just sort of gets dangled out there.  Perhaps to try and inspire change in the other.  Perhaps as a threat.  Perhaps because people have already begun to think about a Plan B.  

Is divorce on the table for you?  Please--and I pray this comes across with the love in which it's intended--Get it off.  Like, right now.  Has the possibility of a split been thrown out there?  Let me plead with you to make a fresh commitment with your spouse to remove that option from your marriage.  Stop using the word.  No more making a back-up plan.  When we even begin to think along the lines of a Plan B scenario, it erodes our Plan A.  It eats away at a marriage.  The moment it even appears that that option exists, it's too easy to end up going that route eventually.

My own parents' divorce became final just 2 days before Christmas my Kindergarten year.  It has always been something I NEVER wanted to personally experience.  Banning the word "divorce" from our conversations was just one of those proactive decisions made on the front-end in the name of protecting our marriage. 

I committed myself to Justin.  For life.  Good.  Bad.  Tough.  Beautiful.  Funny.  Not funny.  All of it.  He married me for the same.

We have no plans to be anywhere else.  I am his Plan A.  He is mine.  

There is no Plan B.

LORD Jesus, please guard our marriages with love and diligence.  I pray specifically for anyone who may be in need of Your healing over their marriage.  Remind Your child today that against all hope it's still fitting to believe You can restore even the most broken of things.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Pinterest.  Gotta love it.  It's one of those things that you can spend all the live-long day pinning organization ideas, free things to do over the summer with your kids, cool decorating ideas, or your choice of about a thousand chicken casserole recipes....and keep them in a handy place where they'll probably never be used.  Like, ever.

But just today I thought, "Enough!"  I have 409 pins and it's time to finally do something with them.  

So I decided that until I actually bake/make/apply something that I have already pinned, I don't get to pin anything else.  Time to put into action what I've already taken in.

I can totally do this with the Word of God, too.  I can sit and take in and read and study and absorb.  But at some point I've got to get up and GO DO IT.

I've got to actually encourage someone.  I've got to actually meet the needs of the poor.  I've got to actually forgive.  Actually share the reason for the hope I have.  Actually love.  Actually tithe.  Actually serve.  Actually deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him.  

Recently I heard a speaker say, "Your feet have to touch the ground once in a while."  I typed this into the notes section of my phone, and it was promptly auto-corrected to "Your feet have to touch the groin once in a while."  Awesome.  :D

But it's true.  The rubber has to meet the road.  We have to do the thing.  Apply the truth.  Live it out.  Do something.

After all, our example is the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Do not merely listen to the Word 
and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says.
James 1:22