Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chasing Boys, Losing Boys

Everything about loving him scared me senseless. He was a flight risk and I knew it. I asked God to reveal it to me, to show me and to guide me, and He did. Once again I felt that risky, head-over-heels love that wrecks you. The one that leaves you forever marked, memories swirl around me as I watch a little boy slurping down his chocolate milk with his mom at Starbucks. I stare at the boy three years older than the one I loved. I smile and hurt simultaneously at the same time. I never really understood the mother son relationship before. But, I do now. I only had four months to fall in love hard and walk away without my pint-size prince. I get it now.

They smell different. They love different. They destroy things and leave a trail letting you know exactly where they have been. And when the mess is gone, you miss it. I know it sounds strange, because I like things orderly and in place. But, I miss his mess. But I don't miss the chaos that came with the strings attached, court dates, and multiple people wanting to infringe on our safe-haven. All I wanted was him. Throw out all the dreams I had and my career finally starting to go somewhere without interruptions, nothing else compares to my deep desire to mother my children. Nothing else matters.

I used to stand him on my legs, his hands in mine and sing, "One Day My Prince will Come." At only eighteen months he said very little, but he knew the song and would smile and sway as we did our special waltz.

One day my prince will come and he did. And then he left.

We had found out about Taylor a couple weeks prior; his mom was at a crossroads so we met with her to discuss her options, adoption being one of them. His mother getting her life straight and becoming the mother he deserved was the best option but she wasn't ready to do that. I was in shock when she called on a Sunday afternoon asking us to take him. By Tuesday we were starting the process of adoption. It was unheard of, but the family found us and felt like we were Taylor's hope for having a different life. He was dropped on my doorstep with almost everything he owned fitting into two laundry baskets. With shaved head, only a shirt, and a diaper he was fourteen months old, beautiful, and broken.

Love fixed him and in the process it changed everything within my heart and my family. We echoed the heartbeat of Christ, fighting for the orphan and the widow. It was selfless, laying down our comforts to welcome a love with so many strings attached. We gave Taylor a voice and a safe harbor. We gave him our hearts, he became like our flesh and blood with no difference between him and the daughters I gave birth to.

My husband fell harder and faster, but I saw the writing on the walls. One of my strongest gifts is discernment and sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading. I ask and I seek and I knock. I listen, even when it's not what I want to hear. It was only a matter of time until heartbreak would happen. But, four months changes everything and eventually I started believing he might actually end up with us forever. My first month was a hurricane and I can only compare what I felt to post partum depression. 

I was never one to fall in love so easily, but sometimes love is like driving a car fast without any brakes. You brace yourself and hold your breath uncertain of the outcome. What once was invigorating and exciting hits the brick wall of change and you emerge different. The hope is that eventually the whiplash will fade to nothingness and your heart will be mended, even if it's never the same.

Sometimes we chase boys who are worth it and sometimes we catch them and want to throw them back. And sometimes we never want to let go; we never want to stop feeling a love so tangible and real. We never want it to stop for fear of what happens when life fades back to normal.

Loving the way Jesus does is risky, but with all my heart I believe it’s worth it. Jesus walked this earth with every intention of laying down His life for us, even for the ones who rejected and mocked Him. Laying it all down and living a life of putting others first is risky, but I want to love like that. My heart is full of gratitude for a cross, an empty tomb, and a risky, unending love.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fire and Fulfillment

Can I tell you something? Slow down. Don't wish away the season that you are in; this is just another process of you becoming closer to the person God designed you to be.

Sometimes we pray for easy and uncomplicated. We pray for unfiltered joy and the happy tears that come with that. We are far too familiar with the tears that sting and battle scars. But, what if we missed out on hardships that build up the greatness of God in us? If we never find ourselves mid-center in the flames we might miss the finished product of refinement. I know my God is much more interested in our polished heart instead of our polished image. Yet, we spend so much time on the latter.

Winter is always a season of stillness for me, this writer runs out of words and things to say. So, I wait and I hold on knowing something will be learned. I will be better if I wait and stop wishing away this season where everything seems cracked and cold. If I press through in faith knowing that beauty is waiting to rise up from the ashes and barren places. 

We feel the need to produce and check things off our list, as if busyness is the symbol of our success. We become good at going through the motions gaining very little ground. We've forgotten how to be still, how to embrace the quiet, and allow our souls be searched and refined by the God that formed us. When the flames come we feel forgotten and that somehow God has taken His eyes off of us. He is right there within the flames; His eyes fixed on you His beloved creation.

During the process of refining silver, the silver is placed in the center of the flames, the hottest spot, so that the impurities can be melted away. As the heat from the fire melts away impurities, the silversmith waits. The silversmith knows that the silver is ready when he can see his reflection in the silver; his eyes are attentive to the precious substance in the hottest part of the flames.

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness..." (Mal 3:3 NIV)

So many times I've handed God my offerings of busyness instead of righteousness. My sifting and fire moments come and instead of smelling like fire, I want to be a reflection of the image of God. Waiting for us on the other side of our furnace is rich fulfillment and a life with greater purpose knowing that every moment spent in the fire brings us closer to a polished heart that God is pleased with.

"Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard, Who keeps our soul among the living, And does not allow our feet to be moved. For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid afflictions on our back. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, But You brought us to rich fulfillment." (Ps 66: 8-12)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pain & Skunk Wrestlers

It's November 12th and I've missed an entire week of being thankful. (Thanks, Facebook, I feel like an ungrateful jerk.) I literally slept most of it away nursing a concussion inflicted by playfulness and my refusal to believe that I couldn't be Angelina Jolie. Not because she's gorgeous, never had adult acne like yours truly, and has the best lips I've ever seen. Nah, not for that. I find outer beauty nice to look at with a timer. But, I’m one of the weird ones who finds myself annoyed with vanity, even my own. And yet, what appeals to me when the director calls “Action” is the strength she exudes. Yes, I get that every move is scripted methodically. But, thanks to my over-active imagination, I think she could throw Brad Pitt and actually break his arm or his pretty face.

I've always felt stronger than my size and stature let on. Perhaps heartache and choosing laughter and grace over hatred and bitterness has helped. When I believe Gods word is true, all of it, I have to believe it's meant for me. It’s the layers of time, blank space mingled with marvelous grace that made me. The time and fiery darts from the enemy that tried to sift and cripple me. The times where I sinned so loud and grieved with heaving sounds alone with the God who never once left me. Never. His grace covered me making a way for me to attain something unattainable in my own strength.

I missed an entire week of being productive and being joyful in my home. My pain became my focus. Truth be told, my heart was hurting before I received the blow to my head and my pride. I couldn't be strong enough to make it not hurt. Four months of bad news and a failed adoption. Time has revealed all the red flags and honored our step of obedience to care selflessly for a child that came with unbelievable baggage. I would do it again in a heartbeat, just for him. That boy was my reason for wanting to adopt for ten years. That desire and calling faded when I knew he wasn’t mine for keeps. Wading through hurtful changes in our ministry and other red flags and road flares didn't stop a head-on collision.

The dust cleared and every heart is still beating, still loving Jesus and doing their best. It's just life and the status update you are NOT to post for entire world, that hasn't a clue, to see. Friday these words spilled out just four days after the ER trip and it was whiplash to my soul hearing this, out of my mouth, the joyful half full girl...

"Life is not all peaches and roses," I said, with a Southern, sassy tone that sounded bitter.

I felt it and I rejected it. Bitterness? No. Not this girl.

Who doesn't like peaches and roses? Someone has to clean the fruit and cut off the bruised parts if by chance it falls to the ground instead of being plucked and picked before bruising. Someone has to tend to the roses, right? Carefully knowing how to handle something so beautiful, yet with thorns that prick and draw blood.

I choose the fruit of the Spirit. I choose to be vines and branches, Christ as my gentle Gardener. I throw off those things that so easily entangle me, I run. (Hebrews 12:1) No, I limp. But, I take strides away from the ugly and the trap of the enemy.

What made the harsh tones spill out of woman who feels naturally sweet in disposition?

Pain did.

All I could do for a week was point to where it hurts, trying my best to wait it out and let things go back into its rightful place. I did everything I was supposed to do, everything the forms said to do from the ER. Aren't we all trying so hard to be "somebody"? This world is tired of fakers, they see straight through the polished image blinded by the words coming out of our mouths. Jesus, give us a polished heart over a polished image. Please, even if it hurts.

My head still hurts. And now I think that nice doctor's optimism of a shorter recovery was a little over the top. And when he said, "Be careful," with tender compassion and wrote me a prescription for something to help with the pain and the nausea while I healed. I felt hopeful and like he understood me. And then when he gave my husband a dirty look and said, "You too." I smirked on the inside and then I felt bad that he felt bad. But, he was not the one with the head injury.

In the southlands they say if you wrestle with a skunk you're going to wish you hadn't have.

I'm not going to lie to you, I'm the skunk and I got my tail kicked hypothetically speaking. OK. I lost that round. But, I'm pretty sure no one is going to try to wrestle with me again. Ever. Being the runt of the family I learned little tricks when my sisters and I fought. No one could wrestle and be tougher than my little sister. I could always tell that look on her face when playful became serious.

Those eyes told you so much. That pretty face, big brown eyes, and seriously the most gorgeous lips ever, said one thing..."You better stop now because I'm about to finish this."

I snicker when I see the "I'm serious" look when she's keeping her adorable children, whom I think are perfect, in check. I straighten up too, kind of, because now is a time when I respect her more than ever. I understand her so much more now and treasure her more than a thousand fair-weather friends. I would trade them all in just have her. She's my sister. I would fight for her, not with her. We've outgrown our wrestling matches and catfights. Thank the good Lord.

We are thirty-something’s who now joke that we've both had CT scans on our brains. I assumed I would have my scan first because clearly, I'm the oldest and I've always been the “crazy” sister. But together we are better than we are alone. We have more gifts to offer, more creative ideas that flow and things that make us laugh. Four hands to clean up and arms for hugs. Trust me, we were so shady as kids but as long as we weren't fighting or screaming our heads off we could try about anything. Today when my Sissy calls on a day off, I want to drop everything just to see her and be her kid’s favorite aunt.

Being forced to slow down this past week did me more good than it did harm. I threw out the list and schedule. I listened to my body and my head screaming at me to lay it all down and rest. And I did. I listened.

Dear Jacked-Up Me,
You're not sixteen and you could care less now about being Miss Popular and chasing boys and dreams. Remember when you cared so much about what people thought of you? How somehow you thought the whispers defined you?

Remember how you cried when the mean girls were mean and good at it...and you didn't realize that is what people do when they are confused and just as insecure as you?

That's what people do when they are hurting and they just want it to stop.

They are mean.

So, don't you be a mean girl. Ever. There is never a good excuse or reason for it. No amount of physical pain or emotional pain is a license to be a jerk-face.

So cry and pray and forgive and repeat as often as necessary until the hurt fades out and joy comes back. Because it always does, joy always comes in the morning.

I wasted a week complaining about my stupid concussion. This week I am fasting all complaining. Period. I found it unhelpful and it just annoyed the "skunk wrestlers". Wink. Wink.

It's weird how much I love you, even if I don't know you. I'm praying God's best for you today. Don't be a skunk wrestler. And to quote a famous skunk, Flower, "If you can't say nothing nice, don't say nothing at all." Profound, don't you think?

Much Love,


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Leftovers and Hands to Hold

I have always been captivated by the story of Ruth and Naomi. I have watched tragedy turn wounded hearts sour changing them inside out. I've cried those bitter tears grasping to get it, to accept it, and grow deeper because of it. The question 'why' wrecks you. Yet we verbalize our questions as it echoes back at us mockingly.

"Who is going to rescue me now?"

God will. He always does.

In Ruth 1:19 the wounded widow returns home without sons, without her love, and without hope for provision. Naomi's pain left her almost recognizable, yet her people saw traces of the woman they used to know. She went out full and came home empty. (v. 21) But, she did not return alone. Clinging to her side and the God she served; stood the devoted daughter-in-law who refused to leave her stranded in her sorrow.

Ruth made a vow to the broken mother, "Where you die, I will die. And there I will be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me." (Vs. 17)

Home was wherever they stood. Together. Broken. In need. Hungry. Clinging to a thread of hope and each other. You see, we were never meant to do this thing called life on our own. Love doesn't walk out on you when all of life gives way and crumbles; it stands with you even though you tell it to go away. You may feel like you have nothing to offer in a state of brokenness, but with all my heart I believe letting people love you and loving them back means a complete willingness to show them our "ugly" and our mess. We shouldn't have to jump through invisible hoops in hopes of earning unconditional love, but we do. We jump through hoops. We go through the motions. We fake it trying to mask the pain.

When Naomi spilled out her bitter complaint blaming the very God who gave her a determined daughter, I see no reply of reproach just a hand to hold as they return to a land at beginning of the harvest season. A quiet presence walking with her through the hurt, Ruth steps in to nurture her and work another mans land to provide for her. Ruth works hard, gleaning, sweating, and reaping a harvest as she finds herself content with leftovers. Proving herself a virtuous woman, the people take notice. The Kinsmen Redeemer takes notice of her, rewarding her. Her gleaning for leftovers turns into prosperity, wedding bells, sounds of babies crying, and second chances.

The God we serve does not give us leftovers. He goes all out with the full spread, He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. He fills our cups until they overflow as goodness and mercy follows us. Not just on certain days, but all of our days. (Ps 23:5-6)

There are no sloppy seconds with our God. Baby, it's the full-course meal that satisfies and goes down easily. He is the hand we want to hold and the friend who walks with us through the mess. So work the land, cry your tears, but give God your today’s and tomorrows. Let the bitterness spill out in salty form, pray until it's emptied out. Bitterness is never a good option. It only taints what was meant to be an oasis of peace deep within, even in the mess. Never once have I felt disappointed with the God who rescues and redeems with His royal bloodline.

"Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed be The Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him." (Ruth 4:14-15)

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the hands I get to hold along this journey, I feel like that devoted daughter that says till death do we part. I want to be better than seven sons, diligently working with these soft hands and soft heart while my God takes notice. To be soft is not a sign of weakness. It is strength wrapped up in gentleness and doing what we do best, nurture. We take turns nurturing the generations, loving them, tending to them, and listening when our Naomi's offers instructions on how to snag a man. (Ruth 3) Or better yet, they instruct us on how to live and grieve, returning back to a place of hopefulness and trust in God saying, "I used to feel so bitter, but because of you, I just feel blessed because you are here in my ugly and in my beauty. I'm with you, whatever this crazy ride looks like."

If I could hold your hand I would, but I offer this prayer over you as you read. May you find your heart satisfied when life feels like soggy leftovers and there is no friend on the other end of the line. May find yourself clinging to a God who restores, redeems, and rescues. May His name be famous!

Much love,

Friday, September 28, 2012


You know those train wrecks that cause you to turn your head and look? You know you shouldn't stare so you peek through covered eyes trying to turn away yet your eyes fixate on the wreckage.

Maybe you feel like you are the train wreck.

Accidents happen while the world keeps spinning. Life tries its best to move right along when all you want to do is scream "stop." I think we fix our eyes on the devastation because the hope is to see signs of life among the wreckage. We gasp holding our breath for a small glimmer of hope that says, "Yes, I'm broken and bruised...yet my heart is still beating."

Where there is breath there is hope because love doesn't leave you stranded. Love comes to you. It always does. Love refuses to leave you alone even when your heart needs a break and your attitude needs a spanking. We have a God who loves without limits and runs to us even when we are the train wreck. Truth be told, we've all been wrecked by something.

After surgery the doctor will often say, "You'll feel much worse before you get better." Yet after the pain medication fades to nothingness, you trace the scars that remain and remember his words wondering why he didn't use a few more descriptive words. Because "worse" just doesn't cut it.

You linger in a state infinitely greater than "worse" with scars that you feel will never fade.

I was one of those who tried to rush the healing process and often that landed me right back in the emergency room. My strength in spirit didn't always reflect the way I felt physically and my body took a beating until I learned the fine art of waiting during the process of healing. I've learned to do the same thing with my heart.

You can't rush the healing stages. The pain takes you back layer-by-layer to the scene where it all began. Your personal tragedy. The dust settles slowly and everything within fades out in slow motion. And God is the hand pulling you out of the wreckage placing you gently on the gurney. He straps you down, not to trap you but to protect you. For he knows exactly what you need and how to cushion you from further sustaining injuries.

Where there is breath hope remains because love doesn't leave you stranded so don't rush this thing called healing. Relax into it and put your feet up. Even if you've made a mess of everything and feel like you are not worthy of a life free from the wreckage. God has made a way for you to find Him and step into a place of blessing.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)

When God sees you He doesn't see a train wreck, or a prodigal. The Father sees His child coming home from the wreckage. All God really wants is you empty-handed. He runs to you so that your hands are no longer empty but wrapped up in the sweetest embrace that says, "You've made it home. Let's have a party."

You are not a mess; you are a masterpiece in the making!

Much love to you,


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Fishbowl and My Twirl

Do you ever have those moments where you say too much? Where you didn’t have to go there, but you felt safe and that your words wouldn’t be wasted or used against you? So you lay your heart out on the table and wonder if they will take a bite or try to do open heart surgery by telling you all the things that need to be extracted out. If they love you, allow them permission to sharpen you with the words of truth. You can cry later.

And so you speak, sometimes guarded carefully because you have to. You form your words carefully, and other times you resort to emotional barfing. One or two things may happen. They might actually help clean you up or they might go home never knowing what you’ve been through or where God is taking you…cause you barfed on them and now they feel like they need a preverbal shower.

I have been preparing for the ministry since I was eleven, in some shape or fashion, leading this event and learning to follow at others. I’m a dancer, I’ve always known when it was my time to take the lead or lift my arms at just the right moment where I partner with another. Girl, it’s your time to twirl. So they twirl. And then when its my turn to twirl, I’ve felt arms telling me not to. Sometimes jealously. In my twenties I almost asked for permission. Is it my turn yet?

My turn?

Oh, you want me to twirl like that?

Well, if you want to know my opinion…

Oh, so you don’t really want to know what I have to say…or how my vision of the dance could be interpreted?

I’m polite. I say nothing. I just fade out and twirl away as I exit stage left. The lights fade to black and I promise myself to let the generation coming behind me to shine, dang it.

Instead of a dance, we become a puppet on a string. Honestly, the people jerking on your strings aren’t really qualified.

It’s easy for me because I’m soft. Although I have had many opportunities to be striped bare of softness becoming calloused like those I’ve watched in leadership. I’ve felt the angry tears running down my face and felt God asking me to dance with Him and for Him instead.

I place my trembling hands in His. I make eye contact. The tears begin to dry and I find myself doing things that I never dreamt possible. I dance the confidence dance, for I know who orders my steps in such a way that takes my breath away. I get my giggle back as joy is released. Because He created me this way, to remain soft yet still be careful when I find myself partnered with question marks.

I’m such a loyal person. It’s a stinking big deal to me. I find it funny that I always know the ones to be careful with. They always tell on themselves, so I never worry about it. It always comes back around. And with women…and a few loose-lipped men it will come back around in many different ways, yet none of them resembling the real story.

True confessions. I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but I attended the class on being a minister’s wife at college. (I want my money back.) I think I would have remembered if I flunked it or not. In that class I watched the sweetest soul caution us to not let others in the church get too close to us. I took that message inside of me, chewed on it for a while, and then spit it out. She was trying to protect us from the personal pain we would encounter from dealing with sheep that bite back at times. She was right. But, then again, it’s a different day and age. God didn’t call me to live a safe life; He called me to the risky one. The fun one. The painful one. The one where “Pastor Appreciation Day” is a total joke. The one where a hug and heartfelt card were your lifeline. The one where no one applauds. The one where only your wife applauds. The one where you sit alone. The one where you stand with many. In the end, it’s just us against the world trying to take on hell with a water pistol.

It’s life in the fishbowl; I swim around with all eyes watching. But something happened to me over the years, over time and lessons learned I allowed other fish to jump into my fishbowl. Sometimes I scoop out the deadness that brings and flush it, if you know what I’m saying.

This one time approval addict has been delivered. I scoop out the poop y’all and keep my little fishbowl sparkling. Because at the end of the day, it’s my bowl and keeping my heart and mind unclouded from this world is what matters most to the Lover of my soul. (James 1:22-27)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Friends and Fans

“Her mom never taught her how to cook, but she did teach her how to risk.”- Erwin McManus, Unleashed.

Sitting with my best friend of seventeen years this weekend, soaking in different snapshots of time. How we were then and how we are now. I’m so stinking proud I could burst. We traveled in ministry together for nine weeks of sheer torture during our college years. Three boys, one who kept his meds in his dirty socks that could rock a human video to Carmen like nobody’s business. One who could play the piano and wow everyone, one who could play the bass and make all of us wish we weren’t so white…and two petite broads calling all the shots and figuring out how we fit while coveting each other’s giftings. I guess you could say we became friends and fans at the same exact time.

At nineteen you don’t really know who you are or why you feel like such a weirdo. We are soaking in all the images of lovelies on the magazines, air brushed and just as insecure as we are. A snapshot is taken. Here is what you look like with some things shaved off and edited. Our eyes surveyed the women in our life while the younger version of ourselves felt inadequate, instead of inspired.

If all we see is what is imperfect and flawed, then we will train our minds to focus on those minor things instead of all the things that take your breath away.

We place an idea of perfection, unattainable and lofty and lie to ourselves by saying it’s possible to be and achieve it all without an IV drip of caffeine and a body double. We are convinced she really exists. The perfect woman.

If “she” really did exist…would you want to pummel her or applaud her?

Would you be her biggest fan?

Or would you feel threatened and at risk?

I could wish away my insecure days that lingered for years, but I wouldn’t be me without all those years of striving to be someone else. I’m amazed at how much time we spend trying to blend in when we were made to stand out. Being who you truly are is risky, but being someone else is a trap.

Stand out, you beautiful thing!

By standing out, you give others the freedom to do the same.

And cheer on your sisters, both young and old, in this journey.

They need a friend and a fan.

Cheering loud for you,


"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." (Phil 4:8-9 MSG)