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...

Monday, December 24, 2012


    Four pounds of miracle. So tiny and fragile and beautiful. Who knew one so small would know how to fight so hard? I met Emma Rose through our NightLight Ministry. Her aunt asked us to go pray for her about 3 weeks ago when she was just out of the hospital and four days old. We didn't know the difficult circumstances she was born into or that she was born so early until we entered the room where she was. Her mom tearfully shared the story of her birth and her worries of caring for one so tiny. So we prayed.   
     As I cradled her in one arm and placed my other hand softly on her chest, she captured my heart. My NightLight Team circled around with Emma's mom and friends in that small apartment. I prayed that God would bless her life, keep her safe, and make her life be an instrument for His glory. Due to circumstances, some would say this child should never have been but I say even now, she is nothing short of a miracle. No matter what the circumstances, she is a masterpiece created by God for His glory and has been since the very moment of her conception. I can't even express how humbled and blessed that such as I am, I was given the honor to pray for that child and her mom that night. And in that very moment, I knew that we would be walking with Emma Rose and her mom along their journey...When NightLight began months ago, we never realized that our ministry would bring us here. 
     Saturday, I received a call that Emma had stopped breathing and was on life support. I rushed to the hospital with a friend to pray with her mom before she was flown to Cook's Children's Hospital. As we looked on at this tiny fragile body tied to tubes and machines, our hearts broke for Emma Rose and for the sorrow and fear we knew her mother was suffering. These helpless times are most frustrating for one like me. There just aren't words to ease a mother's fear and suffering nor understanding why one so small and innocent has to fight so hard to survive. So we prayed. Again that Emma's life would be used for God's glory, that He would bring peace and assurance to anxious hearts, that He would place His hand of protection on Emma Rose on her journey by care flight and as she endured all that was to come, that He might bring healing to this tiny life, and finally, that His will be done. 
     "His will be done..." Those are difficult words to pray because I can't even begin to see or understand how God weaves the worst and most difficult times in with the joys and victories of faith to give meaning to our lives--to fulfill His purpose. Though she isn't mine, all I can do is to surrender that life as I have another to the tender love of a merciful Father and Sparrow-watcher and trust that He will make her life shine--no matter how this ends.
     Today, Emma Rose is still fighting for her life. She has sepsis but she has the heart of a champion. That she made it this far is nothing short of amazing and no doubt a miracle wrought only by the hand of God but her future here is still uncertain. As Christmas looms close, the vigil for little Emma Rose continues. Would you pray with us?
     I still believe in Christmas miracles. Though I don't know the end of this story, I know that He will make her life shine for His glory. That no matter how long or short, Emma Rose has a life of purpose and beauty--a life that changes the lives of others. I can't help but remember a light shining down on a tiny baby born in a smelly old cave-barn over two thousand years ago--a child of seemingly no significance, yet He changed the world for eternity. And I know that God will answer our prayers. Emma Rose will shine. Her life will impact the lives of all who know her. She has already unforgettably touched mine. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


     Over 3 years ago, my friend/pastor Chad Mitchell and I worked together to share our hearts for ministry and outreach---ministry through grace. Our book, "Superman Syndrome," was published in June of 2009. The book was later also published in Portuguese and marketed in Brazil. It's been a blessing to be a part of such a project. As God worked through us while we worked on the book, both Chad and I have grown stronger in faith, and for me, God has revealed His heart in the midst of some of my own personal struggles. It has been a life-changing experience for me, and I'm so blessed to have such a friend and pastor that that we can share the same mindset for ministry.
     After 3 years on the market, we are discontinuing publication so we have remaining copies available at a special sale for $5. Books can be signed upon request or shipped. This would be a great last minute Christmas gift for anyone with a heart for ministry or reaching out to others. If you would like a copy for yourself or to give as gifts, you can contact us at our office at Mission Abilene in Abilene Texas at 325-232-8258 or email me at

BOOK SYNOPSIS:  Are you trapped in a superhero ministry mentality? As pastors and Christian leaders, we are NOT called to lead because we have superhuman powers. We are called because we have been saved by the same grace we teach. We have endured trials, temptations, and triumphs just like everyone else. We love, serve, and lead best when we are real. In the "Superman Syndrome," Chad and Sheri show how we need to take off the ministerial masks and allow others to see grace at work in our own lives thorugh our weaknesses, our wounds, and our worship. This is a testimony of leadership through grace.

Our next book, "Echoes of the City," will soon be ready for publication.

Monday, October 22, 2012


     We talked about neighbors yesterday in church...questioning, "Who IS my neighbor?" And as the speaker made his points, I remembered that sometimes my neighbor is the one I least want to love and forgive--sometimes not a stranger but the ones closest to us (or who should be.) Sometimes my neighbor is one who wounded deeply and irreparably. The one who is first to taunt or to throw stones at me. Yet I am still called to love them. A part of me wants to find a way to do that but in loving them, I must also forgive them and forgiving doesn't come quite so easy as loving I think. Or does unforgiveness mean that I don't truly love at all? And does that same unforgiveness mean that I can't love my true Father as I am first commanded--with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength?
     Then I realize that I'm just not that strong but in my weakness, Jesus IS strong. And I have to come to grips with the truth that forgiving won't undo or change the past and it won't make me forget. But to love my Abba Father with all that I am, I have to find a way to forgive and love the the one who hurt me the most but not in my strength, in His. And when I can't love the other---my neighbor--with all that I am. When I can't love another with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, I can love them with the love of my Father who gave His all for me, and that will be enough. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012


     Relentless - unyielding, ceaseless, unbending...fierce and unstoppable...never gives up. Not soft and so tender as we picture it sometimes...God's love is relentless. He pursues us with a love that is as strong and sure and final as death. It's hard for our finite minds to even fathom a love like that. We want to put everything in a box and contain but His love can't be contained. Have you ever thought of it that way? His love is so big and so furious it envelops us and never lets go.
     I spent some time with a friend who was completely broken by her own failure. She said she had disappointed God. Shame and guilt became her mainstay as she began to think that He would give up on her. As I've done so many times before, she couldn't see how He could love her in her fallenness. But this--this relentless love--is something I can stand up for without batting an eye. "Jesus loves me--this I know"--Not just a kiddie song...This I know. I really KNOW this love and, even in the desperateness of this very moment, it still takes my breath away just as it did when I realized how ferocious it was for the very first time. In her shame, she can't see the vastness of grace, and it breaks my heart but truth calls me to take a stand. No backing up or backing down. When another just can't see how measureless and how strong His love is--these are times that my own passion rises up to fight, not in defense of Him but in pursuit WITH Him. I know that His love reaches into the darkest and most wretched places to find us. Because that's just what He does--He relentlessly pursues us just for the LOVE of us. 
     God's love isn't dependent on our actions. It can't be measured on the world's scale. We run from Him, we fall down, we hide. The world may give up on us, but He still loves us. Shame and guilt overcomes us so when we come face to face with the love of God, we scream, "NOOOOOOOO!" because we don't deserve a love like His....Yet still He loves us. He always has; He always will. From the beginning of time to the ends of eternity, He loves us. Even if we never return His love, He STILL loves us. No matter what we've done or how miserably we have failed, He loves us as much today as He did the day before we failed. His love truly does lift us up where we belong. No matter how far we run from Him or where we try to hide, He will still love us just as much as He did the day He sent His Son to die for the sake of us. 
     It never ceases to amaze me when I think of His endless pursuit of us. How does He keep on day after day when I screw up again and again? Why doesn't He ever give up? Yet He loves me--He loves you--simply because He IS love. Even in trying to convey the relentlessness of His love in my friend's brokenness, I was once again bowled over in remembrance of how long and how far He pursued me--how He STILL pursues me. That furious passionate pursuit has been my saving grace. If He loves me that much, how can I not love Him back? His love for me isn't determined in the least by my successes or failures, but my life, however lived, is an expression of my love for Him (or lack of). Even so, my love for Him is but a drop compared to His love for me. No one else could ever love me like He does. So wide, so far, so high, so deep...and yet I still try to escape it sometimes until I wonder why am I running? So all I can do is just to STOP, to quit seeking for whatever I can't find so that I can be found by Him. And as He runs toward me in passionate pursuit, I open myself up to be caught. How great is the love He has lavished on us...

Monday, July 9, 2012


     "Come as you are." Words commonly spoken but not always meant. So, afraid that "as we are" is more than others can accept, we keep hiding in the cover of darkness behind our walls of secret shame or sin. And the more we hide, the more hurt and damaged we become because we aren't living in the truth of God's promise of grace. 
     I lived in that darkness for too long, living as if I was okay but falling apart inside. But finally my walls of pretend came tumbling down. And yes, I scrambled like mad to find somewhere to hide. It was painful to let others see the "me" that was screwed up and broken. But He left me no place to hide, and the ugly truth of who I was was exposed for anyone watching to see. And in the middle of my shame, He sent a fellowship of believers who took me just as I was--broken, ugly, and scarred. There was no longer any need to pretend anymore--I couldn't if I tried! It still takes my breath away when I remember the magnitude of His knowledge. He's always known the best and worst about me.

You have searched me, Lord, and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;

He knows EVERYthing about me. It's frightening and freeing all at the same time. He knows ALL my ways--not just what I do but WHY I do it. 

Before a word is on my tongue, You, Lord know it completely
You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

When I sought to harm myself, He knew the hurt and anger that came with it. I tried to run, I tried to hide--I thought nobody understood. I was ashamed, but HE KNEW! 

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, You are are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to You; 
The night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to You.
For 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.

    So, with no place to run and no place to hide, I finally came to Him just as I was. He didn't push me away or turn His back. He simply loved me and accepted me.  I had to accept the truth that, no matter how guilty or shameful I was, HE LOVED ME ANYWAY. He loved my worst just as much as He loved my best--probably even more because it was more true. 
     Sometimes, I think we keep ourselves in a dungeon and throw away the key simply because we are ashamed and we don't think we deserve a way out. But Grace doesn't look for those who "deserve" it. Grace looks for those unsuspecting flawed and broken REAL people who don't want to live in the dark anymore. Grace only asks that you come just as you are...
      Even today, at my worst and at my best, I am still totally blown away by that one simple truth I learned so long ago: HE LOVES ME ANYWAY.

(He loves you anyway, too...)

Scripture is from Psalm 139 NIV.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


     Waiting.... Sometimes it seems we spend most of our life in the waiting. I've been there all too often--in life's waiting and in real life waiting rooms... As we waited for the outcome of my father's heart surgery. And my father-in-law's brain surgery. As nurses wheeled my sons away for head CT's and MRI's and to set my daughter's broken arm. As I waited time and again for an answer for strange debilitating symptoms until finally I heard the tentative words--"multiple sclerosis." And as my children and I waited for doctors to revive their dad only to be told, "There was nothing we could do." 
     The waiting room is a place of pain, anxiety, worry and fear--and sometimes, a place of "what if's," blame, and tears. Sometimes, we sit there in the waiting nervously bantering about things that don't really matter just to keep from thinking the worst. And more often than not, we begin mentally filtering through old memories (good and bad), sometimes sharing them aloud with others. Yet we keep the most poignant thoughts and memories to ourselves lest we give in to the "what if's."  Finally, all we have left is the silence. Oh, the silence... It leaves so much room for wondering. 
     I remember one such waiting room, I was stuck in a memory I couldn't let go of and the pain of it took its toll on me. I wasn't really there by choice, but the PTSD episode left me unsafe to be alone so a friend took me to the hospital to treat self-inflicted wounds. I was falling apart so the hospital staff put us in a tiny little private waiting room meant for families. Those moments in that little waiting room have become the example of life in the waiting room. I couldn't do anything but pace and ramble on as I sorted through the details of the memory that had me in its grip. As these episodes go, I don't always remember the details of the present--my whole focus is the recollection of painful past events. I don't remember all that I actually said that day, but I remember clearly the memory and the process as remembering laid it all out before me piece by piece so I could handle it. I remember pacing back and forth as I sorted through it detail by detail--out loud I think. 
     The only other person in that little room was the one who brought me. He didn't judge me or hush me or interrupt me or tell me to get a grip--at least not during this time when I just needed to let the memory take breath for a while. He let me talk while he sat quietly gave me space to pace. He simply listened and waited with me. Even if it didn't make sense to him, I couldn't stop until it was all out and I had nothing left. I have no idea what must have run through his head or how it affected him. We've never talked about those particular moments--the "remembering"-- in that little room before the doctors and professionals stepped in. I couldn't have told him then in the confusion and brokenness of the moment, but his listening and his quietness was a precious gift.
     I don't remember that entire day or even understand it; sometimes PTSD just doesn't make sense. I am told that in the hours that followed, I wasn't very cooperative. But I remember well those moments in that tiny little waiting room with a faithful friend and I gratefully cherish them. Though it took some time for me to see it, I know now that particular waiting room has become my example of being in God's waiting room.    
     It's in the waiting that I have learned to pour out my heart to God--the good, the bad, and the ugly--just as I poured out memories to a mindful friend that day. And God quietly listens and waits with me for He knows that secret hurts must take breath for a while and all that is hidden must be brought to light. And that can only be done in the emptying of my heart.
     Then in the following silence that seems so interminable, He begins restoring my soul little by little because He has truly heard my cries. As I pour out pain, fear, grief, bitterness, and doubt, He fills the void with His presence. As the silence turns to wondering, He is answering me in His own way and His own time. It's in the hardest waiting that I've been changed the most and the most lasting, I think, simply because that's when I'm the weakest and He is the strongest.
     I remember other waiting rooms... As I waited to hear each of my babies' heartbeats for the first time. As I waited with expectant grandparents to welcome Sadie to the world--a long-time prayer come true. As I waited with heart pounding for the military plane to land or bus to arrive bringing my sons back home from foreign lands and wars. And as I waited with bated breath for my baby girl to have her baby girl--my first grandchild. The waiting room is place of pain and fear but it is also a place of anticipation, expectation, hope, and even joy as new life begins. Even in the uncertainty of the waiting room, He continues His perfect work in each of us.

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you (and me), will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus return." - Philippians 1:6

Monday, April 30, 2012


 A while back, we were studying Romans in "The Voice" translation in staff meeting. It's funny how Scripture can take on so much more significance when we hear it a little differently or even at specific times in our lives. Though I had read it so often before, one verse seemed to stand out even more as we talked about it, "If every person on the planet were a liar and thief, God would still be true." (Romans 3:4 The Voice)
     I was jarred by the truth of it then and still today when I think of the reality of who God is. His existence does not depend on us—He is God. We sometimes wrap faith and believing up in a nice little package and, to make it look good, we tie it all up with a pretty little bow. But sometimes the bow comes undone and the contents of our perfect little box spills out willy-nilly all over the place.
     God is not a god of our own making. He doesn't fit in a pretty little box. He even told us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God...” (John 1:1) We didn’t create God—He created us. We don’t get to make up the conditions of His existence or His reasoning. God IS, He has always been, He will always BE God--the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t change because we love Him better or even if we love Him less. We can’t improve on the ultimate God. 
   But the verse in Romans got me to thinking, "For God so loved the world…” Before we were ever born…Before we were even a gleam in our earthly daddies’ eyes, He sent His very own Son to die for us BECAUSE HE LOVED US. He didn’t love us because we did something to earn it--He simply loved us even centuries before we were born. He even knew we would fail Him time and time again or even reject Him—yet still He loved us enough to give up His own Son. “Us” includes ALL of us, no matter where we've been or what we've done. What do we do with a love like that?!
     I was reading through some chapters Chad and I have been working on, and I came upon a turnabout question we had asked, “If God hadn’t given us so many good gifts, would we still love Him?” He loves us at our very worst—even if we are liars and thieves, adulterers and prostitutes, or murderers and rapists. No matter what we are, He is still true. His is the kind of love that is higher, wider, longer, and deeper than anything we could ever imagine. So I have to wonder, "Do I love Him that much?"  He has absolutely no boundaries and no conditions on His love for me. But do I have boundaries and conditions on my love for Him?  Do you?

Saturday, March 17, 2012


  Random contemplation today... Some "things" have been on my mind... Some old wounds opened fresh lately... Old habits or thoughts rise up unexpectedly... And some hurts or hates just won't go away no matter how hard I think I try... I get weary of being me sometimes--of being so fractured and imperfect. Especially when it doesn't make sense. When the good should outweigh the bad and I count those blessings, these moments come unrequested and unwanted. I want to be beyond these brutal thorns of the flesh. I don't want these same old gremlins to keep nipping at my feet.  
    But even Paul told us, "THREE TIMES I PLEADED WITH THE LORD TO TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME..." So I'm NOT the only one!!! Not that misery loves company but that one statement puts me in GOOD company in my book! Paul never fails to be both holy AND human. So it's comforting to know I'm not the only one who feels like I'm on a merry-go-round going nowhere.
     I love to put myself in the shoes of the Gospel greats--Mary Magdalene, Peter, the adulteress, the woman at the well, Paul, and of course Jesus Himself. I love to see from their perspective and I learn soooo much from them. I often stand in those shoes and teach from the "who's who" perspective and watch as women begin to see themselves through new eyes. But you know--every once in a while, in the middle of my own struggles, their shoes just don't fit. So what to do?....
     WWJD... Walk where He walked, talk like He talked, think like Him, BE more like Him. But sometimes in my humanness, that seems so impossible AND discouraging. If I were Jesus who knows the ending from the beginning I wouldn't be struggling in the first place, now would I?
      I read a quote from Dallas WIllard today that caught my attention and reminded me that sometimes we need to turn things upside down or inside out. He said, "I am learning from Jesus to live MY life if He were I..." So maybe sometimes I need to turn it around. Instead of trying to put myself in His shoes, maybe I need to put Jesus with all His humanity and grace in mine. What if Jesus were a confused little girl, or a wounded young woman confused and hurt by people that should be trusted, a wife and mother trying to survive, or this older woman weary and worn, scarred and sometimes still bleeding? What if Jesus were me? What if He didn't look ahead to the ending but faced my experiences, my hurts, and my regrets from MY perspective? 
     And I suddenly remember the little girl in the laundry hamper with Jesus... When He held me tight and cried with me. He didn't always "change" things so I wouldn't hurt but He let me know I wasn't alone and He hurt too. And I realize that as big as God as, Jesus is just my size. He feels what I feel, hurts when I hurt, and cries when I cry. He even gets angry at injustice and meanness. He also rejoices when I rejoice, laughs when I laugh, and loves even more deeply when I love. 
     Sometimes I try to escape from my own life to go where He is in Scripture--Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Holy Land countryside where He walked and taught, even on Mt. Calvary. Those aren't bad places to find Him--I learn so much from Him there but sometimes I need to remember I don't have to go looking for Him. He is right here. He lives my life with me.... And He knows my heart. Then Grace covers it all and somehow makes the imperfect become perfect when He speaks peace to me, "In this world you will have trouble, but TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Saturday, February 4, 2012


"...Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."
 Hebrews 10:22 NIV
   She was blinded by a country doctor's desperate remedy for a cold when she was only six weeks old. Nothing could retrieve her sight. "Poor little blind girl..." were words she may have heard again and again, but Fanny J. Crosby turned her tragedy into a triumph. Though she had every human reason to be discouraged, she rejoiced in faith. "Blessed Assurance" was only one of more than 8000 songs she wrote in her lifetime. Her blindness only made her stronger and more certain of her faith. She heard the melody a friend wrote one day, and immediately these words poured out of her--her own story in song: "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine..."
     As soon as I could mimic the words and find the pages in the hymnals, this one became one of my very favorite hymns. I may have only been 5 or 6 years old but some songs just captured my heart even though I didn't really know why. I remember those Sunday night sings so well. I would sing those words with all my little girl might, "This is my story! this is my song! Praising my Savior all the day long!..." I must have been quite a sight. This skinny little freckle-faced girl... 
     I could pick a thousand songs that mean a lot to me, but if I had to pick one that has endured through my whole life, it would be this one. Just as Fanny Crosby rose above her blindness to grasp the assurance of her unfailing faith, I grasped the heart of those words in the darkest or saddest moments of my own life. When I was down and out as a little girl, I didn't choose from the sounds of the Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline vinyl records that my dad played so often. I chose those songs I loved best on Sunday mornings and especially Sunday evenings when the congregation--even little girls--could choose the hymns. 
     I look now at the words of "Blessed Assurance" and realize why they have held my heart captive my whole life. "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine..." No matter what was taken from me--as a little girl, a confused teenager, an overwhelmed mom, or totally lost grown woman on my own at forty--no one, and I mean NO ONE, could take Jesus away from me. Even when I myself tried to push Him away or run from Him, He took me in His arms and reminded, "You are Mine, and I am Yours." And oh! When I held on to His words, my tears and troubles just evaporated away
     "Perfect submission, perfect delight...Angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy and whispers of love." When I couldn't see right and wrong or understand what was happening, I found hope in crawling in Jesus' lap and giving Him my heart...and my hurt. As a little girl, I would crawl into the dark mustly laundry hamper (I was a strange little kids sometimes!) and Jesus would meet me there and just hold me tight. I didn't understand what "submission" was back then, but I knew it MUST this way of letting Jesus hold me while He made the world go away for awhile. And when I was in that laundry hamper, I did just that. I submitted... Without trying to prove anything to anyone, I surrendered to Him with a sincere heart... Well today, I don't fit in the laundry hamper anymore (obviously), but there are still times He draws me close and holds me, echoing mercy and whispering love to my soul.
     "Perfect submission, all is at rest. I in my Savior am happy and blest. Watching and waiting, looking above--Filled with His goodness, lost in His love." It's hard to think why I would even want to hide in a hamper full of dirty old clothes but when Jesus took hold of my heart in there, He washed my "inside" dirty laundry clean. Nothing else mattered, and I really was happy and blessed. I would even fall asleep amid that pile of dirty clothes completely at peace and at rest. Even today, in surrendering my very worst to Him, I find myself in Him and He in me. I remain happy and blessed--whether my tough circumstances change or remain the same.
     "This is my story, This is my song! Praising my Savior all the day long..." When I was so little, I remember belting those words out as loud and as strong as I could in that church pew. My heart would pound with love for my Jesus, the friend of children. I don't think anyone could have shut me up if they tried. It's ironic how Jesus always said we should come as little children to Him. In human reason, it just doesn't make sense. As children, there's so much we don't understand, even more we just can't put into words, and so very little we can do. But when Jesus comes down and speaks to a little child's heart, she doesn't question--she just knows and responds without abandon, "Jesus is mine and I am His."
     No matter what I had done or what I had been through, Jesus was ALWAYS my blessed assurance. I didn't understand a lot in those days, but I understood that one truth. Today in my church, we don't sing the song nearly as much as I would like but when I hear it, those words still fill my heart to overflowing. No matter what I've done or what I've been through, He reminds me that He is still my blessed assurance. Because He has held me so close throughout the years, His blessed assurance truly IS my story and my song. He's held me through all the darkest moments. When I couldn't see, He made a way for me. "This is MY story, this is MY song..." so yes, for all He is and all He has done, I will praise Him all my life long.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


    Written December 28, 2011--the night before Alice Madeline was born. My attention was turned elsewhere before I posted it.... But remembering my thoughts that night and seeing how Brittany has settled into motherhood, my sentiments are still the same...

    In just a few hours, my baby girl will become a mom. It's been quite a year. None of us expected what this year held. The year had barely begun when my children lost their father. And now it ends with a new life just beginning as little Alice Madeline makes her grand debut tomorrow. 
     Honestly, I'm a little overwhelmed--a lot overwhelmed. Just as I'm beginning to think I've got a handle on this thing called "life," it changes. Overwhelmed isn't always a bad thing though. I've seen my daughter grow more in this one year than seemed possible. She has fought and endured, overcome, and pressed on. She lost what was most precious and embraced love and treasures yet to come. I'm amazed at the woman she is becoming. And I'm overwhelmed as I realize what is yet in store for her--the pain, fear, responsibility, tears, and unending joy that comes with being a mom. I'm overwhelmed because I know that in these next hours, her whole life changes as Alice comes into her life. There is no turning back.
     My whole life I have heard that old warning that always comes with a knowing chuckle, "You'll pay for your raisin'!" I never quite understood it. I guess I never quite appreciated the sentiment. It's as if one generation finds joy in knowing that the next generation will suffer the same struggles and worries and troubles that they have endured. And I've decided I don't want my daughter or my sons to "pay for their raisin'." If I could wish anything for my daughter, I would wish that she would be at least twice the parent I've ever been.... That she will not make the same mistakes I made or have to make up for her own mistakes growing up. I hope that she will have more patience and wisdom and love than I had... That she won't stay up nights worrying and wondering what she is doing wrong as a mom. I wish...I pray that she keeps the confidence and assurance that she will be the best mom she can be... And that if or when her own children rebel or seek their own independence, she will know that no matter what they do or choose, she has given them the tools to survive and the weapons needed to fight the battle they will face.
     The truth is that I believe she will be a great mom. She may not do things the way did them. (Actually, I hope she does things better than I did.) She may have different ideas about child-rearing than I had or generations before me had. But you know what? That's ok. Different doesn't mean wrong. I just pray that I can be there for her whenever she needs me yet know when its time to get out her way so she can be the parent God has created her to be. I pray that she comes into her role as mom with confidence and joy. That fears will subside as she walks in the strength and wisdom that I know Christ will provide in this brand new journey and that her "raisin' " never costs her or brings her doubt or regret but instead, I pray her "raisin' " only makes her stronger. Daughter, the best is yet to come...

Friday, January 20, 2012


 Sometimes the line between ministry and friendship is so very blurred, and the hurt of one so very precious to me runs deep in me too. Maybe because knowing her pain, I recognize that the chasm between where I was and where I am is not so very wide and not nearly wide enough for comfort. Yet that one small step taken to cross the chasm that separates the edge of despair and the edge of hope seemed like the journey of a thousand miles. I've come so far but not far enough to forget or to lose sight of what GOD has done in me and for me. Maybe this hurt is what keeps me humble, knowing that my crossing wasn't my achievement but God's work in me. 
      Maybe this hurt is just one more cog in the turmoil that's been churning in me for awhile if I was willing to admit it. One of the greatest paradoxes of this journey and how God uses it, I think, is the conflict between what my mind knows and what my heart feels--another narrow chasm that seems so uncrossable sometimes. Even now I look from where I came and I can't see the bridge that I crossed to get where I am. It seems impossible.
     I'm a "fixer." If there was ever anything I selfishly want from my own experience is that no one I love would have to walk down the same road that I had to walk or cross the same frightening chasms. From where she is now, she focuses so intently at deadly hopeless churning waters below her that she can't see His hand so near reaching across to her from the other side of this chasm of despair. I remember it all too well--when I couldn't see His hand either. I just want to grab hold of her and cry out to her, "Come on! I know the way. I can save you!" She can't hear my cries but I'm realizing this morning that God hears my heart. He remembers when I was at the brink too... 
     Last night, Chad spoke in a women's meeting about "One Thing," a message that, I have to admit, unsettled me with so much so heavy on my heart. I like the sermons that end with me knowing all the answers but this one left me with more questions than answers. Honestly, at this moment, I don't have a clue about the answers to any of the questions Chad posed before us...Except one. He even shared the answer that is my own. (It's ironic that I had all the notes to this message three weeks ago but I didn't "hear" it then. Maybe God saved it so I would hear it when I needed it most...)
     "What one promise do you need to cling to?" As he commonly does, Chad posted a scripture with the question to help us. Together we read through part of it:

This one thing I know: GOD IS FOR ME!
I am trusting God; Oh, praise His promises!
I am not afraid of anything mere man can do to me! 
Yes, praise His promises.
Psalm 56:9-11 TLB

Those words hit hard last night... "This ONE THING I know: GOD IS FOR ME!" I can't honestly say that I always trust Him enough or that I'm never afraid--I am even now I guess. But this morning I remember why those four little words took my breath away last night. "GOD IS FOR ME!" That was the very truth I had to learn AND believe before I could take His hand and cross the chasm. That was my one step. When all the rest of the world seemed against me, I had to believe that God is for me. Thankfully, I had someone on the other side yelling (in a manner of speaking), "LOOK UP! GOD IS FOR YOU!" And yelling loud enough to take my attention from the swirling waters below for just a minute. But that minute was enough to see that someone point me to THE One--to Jesus reaching out His hand to take me to the other side. One step is all it took and I was rescued. Even since then, that one promise has often kept me looking ahead instead of looking below or behind. It does now...
     And I wonder how I take that from my heart to hers--to my friend who is now where I was. I want an easy answer. Surely there is something simple I can say or do to make her see but in my heart of hearts, I know she's just as determined and stubborn as me. So I look again at the verses Chad gave and I realize that one promise goes even further. I'm not sure why I didn't read it three weeks ago... As I remember my own journey as if it were just yesterday, I remember my promise to Him when He kept me from falling...

I am bound by my vows to You, O God.
I will keep my vows by offering songs of thanksgiving to You.
You have rescued me from death. You have kept my feet from stumbling
so that I could walk in your presence, in the Light of Life.
Psalm 56:12-13 God's Word Translation.

"I will keep my vows..." Chad reminded me last night that my own experience is what is most valuable in reaching out to this one on the edge. Admittedly, I didn't like that answer because it just confirmed that I couldn't FIX it for her. That doesn't eliminate her struggle. As daylight comes this morning, so does new revelation. My promise to Him was NOT to fix for others all that is wrong. My promise was just to whisper, to sing, to tell, or even scream if necessary, what He did for me. Not to fix but to simply give hope and point to Him. My promise was in whatever way possible to call from this side, "LOOK UP! He's right here! GOD IS FOR YOU!" 
     There are moments in my journey that are so hard to share openly with even the closest to me--not just because it's so intimately personal but also because it's still so painful. And I don't like my weakness or pain to show...Who does?! Doesn't weakness make me less effective for Him? (Again, this conflict between my heart and my head...) But the truth is that my own journey is sometimes the only tool I have. He has so graciously given me my most precious gift--my rescue. But my story doesn't fix hers, so what's the point? ...As I remember once again. It's not my job to fix her problem. It's to give her hope.
     So as I offer my "song" of thanksgiving, I am most thankful for my journey and I wouldn't trade one moment or one step of it for anything in the world... Especially the hardest and most painful moments, for it was is in those very moments that I discovered that He is FOR ME no matter what. No matter where I had been or what I had screwed up or how pathetic and hopeless I was, He was still FOR me. He fought the battles I didn't have the will or strength to fight. 
    So in the light of day, I realize that the bridge I keep looking for to get to where she is now doesn't exist. It never did. I didn't cross a bridge to get from there to where I am. All I did was reach out to take His hand when someone cried out to me, "LOOK UP!" And He raised me up on eagles wings and carried me in those moments and miles of living death to the other side--to Life.
     So Friend, I can't possibly take away your journey. I can't "fix it" for you so you don't have to go through this. But I know your journey is your greatest gift. All I can do is whisper, cry, sing, or yell out to you in any way possible that I know that I know that I know this one thing: Even these darkest moments are precious because I've been where you are, so LOOK UP! He's right in front of you reaching out His hand. I am here waiting on the other side praying for you and waiting to watch you reach out and take His hand as He lifts you up in flight and carries you to the other side--to a life unimagined before, even with its struggles. Girl, He will do what you or I can't. GOD IS FOR YOU!