My life has been a journey full of twists & turns, highs & lows. Honestly, I'm not sure I could really define where I'm headed. But one thing I'm learning, the journey isn't all about the final destination but more about how we travel. And fulfillment is found in all that we learn & experience as we journey, not just getting to the end of it. I can't even imagine making mine without Christ before me, behind me, and beside me...

Sunday, January 23, 2011


     Chad asked the staff this week if we were travel agents or tour guides. I pondered that for a while and let the question soak in my heart. How do I reach out to minister to the women in HOPE? How do I show them a better way of living? How do I teach His words? How do I inspire this hope that only Christ can give?
    A few years ago, I would never have believed that I would be in a church like Mission Abilene or leading a ministry like H.O.P.E. And never EVER would it have occurred to me that I would someday be "in" women's ministry of any kind! I was far more prone to remain on "safer" ground where I could keep people--namely women--at arm's length. Or maybe more like on the other side of a whole chasm! Like children's ministry or music ministry (the safe kind--playing the piano and singing "specials."  You know what I mean? I kept myself together by maintaining my own personal boundaries--my chasm--and putting on a confident front so that no one got near enough to see the fragile cracks in my armor. 
    But then, life took a turn for the worse and my world caved in...or so it seemed. In reality, my life took a turn for better--though I didn't know it yet--and I couldn't pretend to have it all together anymore. Life became an earthquake and the broken rubble filled my chasm and threatened to bury me. Then a couple of Christ-led people walked across my self-imposed chasm and reached out in His love to save me. I had no other choice than to take another's hand and another's hope just to survive. 
     Suddenly, as I climbed out of the rubble,I didn't climb alone. Whether I asked or not I suddenly had these persistent die-hard people who were there beside me, who pulled me up on solid ground, who held me up when i stumbled,and who picked me up when I fell down time and again. And a whole new journey began for me...
     I used to be a travel guide....I pointed the way and laid out all the colorful brochures and portrayed all the bright and glorious possibilities that were there for the taking. I don't believe God wasted my efforts. (He is good at working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose--Romans 8:28) But I taught from what I knew in my head--what I had memorized or seen in all the good "books"--rather than what was in my heart. I sent others on wonderful journeys that I had I never traveled myself. I remained where it was safe and comfortable and known...or so I thought until it almost became the death of me. I hadn't seen all bright and beautiful possibilities with my own eyes or experienced the joy and blessing in my own journeys
     But now--post "earthquake"--I realize that I am one for the journey...Because of those precious people who spanned my chasm and reached out their hands to save me, I began to live life and to experience Jesus' words and way of life. I began to take what was in my head and put it into my heart. I can't help but think of Paul's words to Timothy (the words of one of those old hymns I always loved to sing) "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day..." Today, I know that I am a tour guide. Just as those God-sent people shared their journey with me and passed the baton, I can now share my journey with others through my testimony--my travels...Just as Lois, Eunice, Paul, and even Timothy did...

 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded now lives in you also.  For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. - 2 Timothy 1:3-12

     Today, I share with others the gifts and blessings Christ has so generously given to me. I teach and minister from the experience and overflow of my own heart. It's ironic--that ministry for me now is not just a calling or an obligation or something I need to do to earn God's grace. Ministry is not so uncertain or wearying because I've been before where these women are...Or, if it's new ground, we travel together, spurring each other on in the journey of faith. 
      Sharing this hope that I know so well now is my passion and part of who I am. And today, I can't imagine ministry any other way. To be sure, there are mishaps along my journey sometimes. My testimony is far from perfect or unflawed but those flaws and imperfections are where God shines the brightest, lighting the way for others. Jesus said, The good man brings good things out od the good stored up in his heart...for out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45 NIV)  He has put such good things in my heart now--not just in my head. So today, I'm thankful for every crack where His light shines through my armor and for every mile I've traveled. Christ has taken me on a trip I could never have imagined or hoped for on my own. And my greatest hope is that each one God puts in my path takes this baton--God's gift of hope--and travels even farther than I could ever go. I now fully understand Paul's encouragement...

For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you.... For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  - 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Sunday, January 16, 2011


    Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. - Ephesians 5:15-16

     How easily it slips away from us...When I think about "time," I always flash back to that certain hour of the day when I was a kid. Every day at noon, I anxiously waited for cartoons but right as they came on, Mom would change the channel. (Drats! No Looney Toons for me!)...Then, "La da da" (music playing) and a distinct voice, "Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives..."  Mom's next few hours were dedicated to Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns, and Another World....Soap operas. Some would say her afternoons were wasted (even she would these days) but maybe Mom made the most of her afternoons. She was entertained (there wasn't many alternatives in programming in those days), the laundry was done, and she crocheted trunks full of doilies, bedspreads, baby blankets, and afghans for our own home and for gifts. 
     So maybe time used wisely or otherwise is a matter of perspective...maybe. But there's one sure thing I know--it passes all too quickly. And wasted moments are moments that we can't get back. So those words of Ephesians carry far more weight when seen in the light of eternity. In years past, I could have been the poster girl for wasted time--for time spent unwisely... But God gives so much grace and in spite of my inadequacies, He still made the most of of every opportunity to turn my heart to Him every time I wanted to give up. For the past few years, I couldn't really show the world bushels of fruit for all my own futile efforts but He took my shards of broken glass and made a mosaic masterpiece. He put me together again.
     So now is my time to make the most of every opportunity. I've begun this year with hopes, dreams, and plans galore. I'm so blessed and excited that the moments I have now are moments I want to dedicate to His give back AND pay forward all that He has done for re-establish or rebuild what was lost or wasted in past years...So I begin this year with a busy hectic schedule--that's nothing new. I've spent most of my life being "busy" with nothing to show for it. Too much time and too many memories are forgotten, lost in the chaos. So in all that God has before me now, I must choose each and every moment and make the most of it. I can't undo or regain the past but I made the commitment to begin now--to be careful how I live, to make wise choices with my time. And I'm learning that those wise choices begin with slowing down and taking stock instead of speeding up and becoming a cyclone of furious activity. My focus must be to finish well one task rather than leaving 10 hopelessly unfinished tasks behind.
    In the past few weeks, it almost seems my life has begun new. A new perspective, a new home, a renewed mindset, a renewed mom-set, and a renewed ministry. AA programs often quote insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." So I think this year has to begin a little more sane and I've been making determined choices to make it so by doing some things differently. I'm in a new house but I can't make it a home until I'm know I'm done with the old one. Leaving that old house well is important to me at this point. This is the most positive and blessed move I've made, so I want it to be done in the right way. As anxious as I am to make this new house a home--to organize, paint, and decorate--I had to commit to leave the old one better than I found it. That may not seem a big deal to many but for me, it's important this time to leave a trail of blessing and good partings--footprints I don't mind being followed. And with the help of my precious son Andy, that has been accomplished. Needless to say, some things at my new house have been left undone thus far but that is what's ahead of me. I needed to stick to this one task and finish it well so I could look forward without looking back. It may seem strange to others but it's about so much more than simply changing houses. It's the beginning of a lifestyle. So yesterday (on schedule), I was able to shut the door of my old house one last time without regret or shame. It's a new feeling for me. I've closed far too many doors with regret. 
     Today, I'm looking forward to colors and paint, curtains and hard work, and the joy of seeing work done with my own hands and my own creativity as this house becomes my home--my sanctuary. But with all that work comes so much more... I look forward to family and friends, fellowship and fond memories, and a peace and contentment I've never known. There's a whirlwind of life ahead of me but I'm taking it day by day--pausing to make memories and enjoy the time God has given me. And each day, my time-wise choices begin with a few moments in worship and awe of a God who makes me brand new each day, and moments to rest and reflect on all that has been accomplished as I look forward to all that is yet to do. 
     What I have to remember is that I can hope for tomorrow but I must LIVE today. In another time and era, I sang a song for my mom one Mother's Day and I still hold its message close to my heart. So as I learn to live wisely, I pray these words always come to mind...

Hold tight to the sound of the music of living, 
Happy songs from the laughter of children at play; 
Hold my hand as we run
Through the sweet fragrant meadows, 
Making mem'ries of what was today.

We have this moment to hold in our hands and to touch
As it slips through our fingers like sand.
Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come 
But we have this moment today.


Sunday, January 9, 2011


     2011 dawns with so much to hope for and so much to look forward much to accomplish. And as for that, the list seems endless as the ADD mentality kicks in. But just as I encourage my women to set definable, reachable goals, I should do the same in my own personal life. We were asked, "What are 10 things you want to accomplish in your personal life this year?" So here is my "Top Ten" so to speak but as God works, they are in no particular order. I believe God works things all together--all in rhythm and motion like cogs in a clock...
     I want to...

  1. To be more vulnerable. I love to reach out to others--to let God use me to make a difference to others who are broken...I don't have any trouble getting involved in the lives of so many others but I don't tend to let in my own life. I don't like to be vulnerable--to let others see me broken or to risk being hurt. I'm ready to let others into some of those deepest parts of my heart, I think.
  2. To make my house a home--a place where my kids can truly come home to and a place where my friends are welcome. For a very long time, my "dwelling place" has been just that...a place to hide and shut out the world. And suddenly this year, I find myself wanting...needing a home filled with love, laughter, grace, and--of course--hope.
  3. To finish "the books"--writing projects I began with Chad...Not just to publish books but because of all that God accomplishes in me in the process of it. It's time to break some new ground and I've been resistant.
  4. To begin my own book...One that uses some of my own story to reach others...To share grace and offer hope.
  5. To simplify and declutter my life. Not just my possessions, but my time, my plans, and --most of all--my heart so that I can focus on what God really has for me rather that getting hopelessly tangled in the demands of the world.
  6. To become healthier and more fit...both physically and spiritually.  
  7. To draw closer and closer to Jesus, Lover of my Soul--so that those lost or desperate moments are fewer. To know Him and to be known by Him so that His voice and His purpose are clear. To trust Him so much that I don't even hesitate to follow where He leads. 
  8. To build some new bridges and avenues of relationship with my children and to open doors that have been close far too long. To share more openly with them so they know me better as a person, not just mom--and so I know them better as adults, not just my kids. To help them understand some of the past and how it has shaped them as well so that they can overcome that which has damaged and build on that which has made them strong.
  9. To build a ministry that reaches out more to the women of the street--prostitutes, the and the homeless. To actively see them as Christ sees and to love them as He loves so they can see they are beautiful in the eyes of grace.
  10. To enjoy and cherish life more...To take the time to laugh and to love with friends and family. To take time for me just to rest and rejuvenate and recenter when life gets too chaotic and overwhelming.  


"Show me Your ways, Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. Remember, Lord, Your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to Your love remember me for You, Lord, are good..."  -  Psalm 25:4-7

 It's hard to believe another year has begun...and time to look forward to all that God has ahead for me in both my personal life and in ministry. As I think about so many of my past "new years"," it seems that I've often looked backward with regret and "I wish I would have's" and forward with dread and "I can'ts"...But this year has begun differently. I "rang" in this New Year'a midnight hour quietly at my new home--honestly speechless with utter amazement and awe as I realized how far God has brought me and my ministry this past year. And 2011 sauntered in with new hope, new joy, new grace, and new purpose. I wait with anticipation as God lays the path before me. 
     My daughter Brittany joined me in ministry in the last few months in H.O.P.E. through Art Stars."God placed a desire in her heart to reach out to kids through art...and she has done just that with the H.O.P.E. kids. Babysitting has moved aside to make way for creative expression and healing through paint and canvas. As I've watched God use her to open the hearts and creative minds of these children through Art Stars, I've seen a new hope and new purpose become instilled in my daughter's own heart. And I have been invigorated with new hope and new purpose as well. 
     My heart has overflowed as I've witnessed Brittany take hold of my mantra of HOPE in her own center of impact. Chad and Ashley gave me a framed scripture for my new house with HOPE emblazoned across the top. "Blessed are those...whose hope is in the Lord their God."  (Psalm 146:5)  Chad said that I should get used to it--items with HOPE on it--It's what I'm all about...He was being lightly sarcastic but, you know, I can really embrace that. I have turned a proverbial corner in my life and even my ministry. It's not about just surviving anymore...It's all about HOPE--not just a cutesy name for a group but about the real HOPE. So as I look toward what this year holds, I also look back at the beginning of H.O.P.E and it's grassroots in ministry. When God first put this vision on my heart, He showed me that all my striving was in vain if I never grasped the truth and took hold of what was inside of me...Colossians 1:27 - "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY." And as He shaped that truth within me, He planted the grassroots of a ministry to women who had been broken, abused, and devastated by life's circumstances...

"H" - Healing our brokenness as we share together and encourage each other. 
  •  Psalm 103 - "Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion...." 
"O" - Opening our hearts as we let God's grace work within us.
  • Lamentations 3:19-42 - "...Yet this I call to mind 
    and therefore I have hope: 
    Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  
    for His compassions never fail. 
    They are new every morning; 
    great is Your faithfulness. 
    I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; 
    therefore I will wait for Him...' ”

"P" - Pressing on through our circumstances with Christ alone as our Strength.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:6-10 - "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed..." 
"E" - Envisioning a future here in this life and throughout eternity.
  • Romans 5:1-11 - "...And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us..."
So what does that look like for 2011? How can I cast that same vision of hope to the women God places before me in ministry this year? What can I do this year that I haven't done before? 
     First of all, I can live my healing before others. I begin this year with a new attitude. For the first time in many years, I can honestly say, "I AM OK. I AM HAPPY, BLESSED, AND FULL OF HOPE!" No, I'm not perfect by any means--my healing is ongoing..Each one of us is a work in progress, but instead of focusing on the negative and criticizing our mistakes and imperfections, we can remember that healing is a process and look at ourselves positively...God isn't finished yet--we are being made holy. He loves us because He created us and He looks on all that He has made and He sees that it is good.
     I want to empower women, not enable them. That happens by centering our study and activities on living life with purpose...Even as we take a hard look inward at our lives for the sake of healing, we should also focus outward. As we gain hope, we will also give hope through outreach and service projects. Just as we need to be loved and accepted, we can find ways to love the unlovable and accept those who are lost, lonely, or downcast--HOPE projects directed toward those in the hospital, deployed military, Afghani children, and here among us--special projects in reaching out to battered women, prostitutes, and homeless women.
     I want to see women to be more deliberate about setting and defining firm boundaries and realistic provide more measurable accountability for pro-active steps. That happens by rippling some stagnant waters, and boldly speaking truth in love. Sometimes women need hugs and compassion, but sometimes they need a gentle nudge. And sometimes boundaries must be set for those who choose to refuse to budge or move forward. I am most thankful for those in leadership who did not allow me to wallow in self-pity.
     Strength-training is a must. I've watched women over the past year make excuse after excuse for staying where they are...remaining in fear, in addictions, even in laziness and then falling back again and again in their same despair in times of crisis. They look to me and to counselors for an encouraging words, for help and hope but they don't put truth into practice in their everyday lives. They hang on to words and adages for dear life just to get through from day to day but soon lose strength because they don't take truth out of the package and put it to work in life. We need to focus more on practical coping skills in all kinds of circumstances...Thinking and planning ahead so that we overcome and gain victory over our circumstances rather than just surviving the crisis of a moment. 
     I want to see women take honest inventory of where they've been and where they are headed. I want determine the turning points in their lives--those defining cairos moments that made them or broke them. Making "creative inventory" a regular part of our curriculum and exercises so that they can take charge of their lives rather than letting life take charge of them. We persevere, we strive, we overcome...we find purpose because of Christ IN us--He is our HOPE. 
     It's hard to put HOPE in words just so--to define the process. I can only measure and teach by what I've learned and lived myself. I remember the other side of this mountain...a few years ago when I was hopeless. I remember the many times when I wanted so desperately to give up on life...but God always put someone or some Word in my path to give hope. He truly is faithful. It's been an uphill struggle and I slipped back down that hill many times...But now I'm rounding the top... I can look behind and see how far I've come and then turn and look at what lies before me now...And what a sight to behold! I want these women to see what I see now. 
"You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand." - Psalm 16:11