In Christ Alone

I sat in a meeting at my son’s school last night. A small private Christian school, not drastically different than the Christian school where three children and three adults were brutally murdered yesterday in Nashville. It’s a school I love. A family of parents and teachers . . . of pastors and students . . . a school where lives are changed and leaders are made. And as I reflected on all it means to me, my heart broke, once again, for the community of Covenant School, for the families, the teachers, the children whose lives are forever altered by what took place yesterday.

I pick up my daughter every day from a neighborhood elementary school. A school much like the one right down the road in Uvalde, TX where almost a year ago, 21 lives were stolen and cut short, and countless others shattered. And much like the school in Uvalde, our school full of amazing teachers and staff that I value greatly . . . of so many precious kiddos I’ve grown to love . . . and I cannot even fathom wanting to bring them harm.

These acts of pure evil are incomprehensible. Like so many, I cannot begin to understand how a heart could be so dark or a mind so twisted that a person could do something so horrific. It’s in these moments that I have to resist. I have to resist the compulsion to circle the wagons and try to protect my children from every possible evil they can or will ever encounter. No matter how hard I try, I cannot do that. I have to resist the urge to forget that I am not in control, and while I do believe that God gives us wisdom and common sense, and we need to take steps to protect our children in the most practical sense, I also have to remember that we both live in a fallen and broken world and despite all of our best human efforts, sin exists and horrific things happen. BUT I also have to remember that we serve a very real, living God. I have to resist the temptation to believe the darkness is taking over. I have to recall and remember the words from book of John chapter 1 verse 5:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

My job is not to shield my children from the darkness, but to teach them to shine through it. No matter how dark things may seem on this earth, we serve a risen Savior who is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. This life and this are earth only temporary. In the midst of the darkness, we are called to be light. In the midst of distress and confusion, we are called to point others towards the answer, Jesus Christ. When I say “Jesus is the answer”, it’s not a canned Christian response, some flippant answer. I truly and sincerely believe that Jesus is the only answer to all the brokenness, hurting, and evil in this world. He is the solution to the problem both in the present and for eternity.

I will continue to pray. I will continue to be the light. I will continue to turn back to Jesus, to put my faith and trust in Him, time and again. Tonight, as we, both as a nation and as individuals, mourn with the families and friends of those needlessly and tragically lost in Nashville . . . as we continue to stand and grieve with those who have lost loved ones in so many other tragedies, I’ll leave you with the words from one of my favorite songs.

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground, His body lay
Light of the world, by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave, He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand


Quitting the “Mom Guilt”

I have a request . . . can we stop normalizing “mom guilt”? Can we stop acting like it’s cute and funny and in no way a passive aggressive way of making moms, who are already stretched thin and doing their best, feel badly about their skills as a mother? Can we start normalizing normal? Not having it all together? Not doing it all perfectly?

Last week, during spring break, we were gone Tuesday through Saturday. We went to California to Disneyland. We got back Saturday afternoon and hit the ground running. Five loads of laundry . . . church on Sunday . . . bathrooms to be cleaned . . . one back to school and starting track practice on Monday . . . the other back to school on Tuesday . . . doctor’s appointments . . . a track meet this coming weekend . . . and in the midst of all of it, my youngest had her tenth birthday. Because we spent most of spring break at Disney and because life is so crazy right now, we told her that the trip to Disneyland was essentially her birthday “party”. I still did a birthday meal. I still made a cake and bought balloons. She still had gifts and donuts on her birthday, and I, of course, took cupcakes to school to share with her friends. She was fine with it. I. Still. Felt. Guilty. Disney is literally the biggest party on earth. She was not deprived. And yet, there I was, at 2:00 a.m., on more than one night, laying in bed feeling guilty about not having a big birthday party . . . I don’t even know when I would’ve done it . . . as if not doing that would permanently scar her for life. Guess what? It didn’t. It won’t.

I’ve felt guilt when we had to divide and conquer school events. Guilt when I didn’t cook a healthy meal every night of the week. Guilt when I had to miss an event (and I try my utmost not to miss my kids’ programs and sports events). Guilt when I said “no” to one more person and one more thing on the calendar. Guilt when I don’t do for my kids what they absolutely can do for themselves (even though I know it’s an important and integral part of raising independent adults . . . I’m not their maid or their servant). And y’all know what? It’s ridiculous. It needs to stop.

You know what else? I’ve realized the guilt has zero, absolutely nothing, to do with my children and my relationship with them. It has to do with the pressure from the outside, sometimes by individuals and other times just by a society that is never satisfied, to do it all . . . to be everything . . . to meet the expectations of others . . . to reach a bar set so high it’s not truly attainable by anyone. It has to do more with appearances and being perceived as a “good” mom than actually being a good mom.

We need to stop comparing. We need to stop pressuring ourselves and others. We need to back off the sideways, passive aggressive suggestions and comments and give others (and ourselves) lots of grace. And I’m the first one to crack a joke at my own expense. Believe it or not, I do have a sense of humor, but I think that we’re at a point where the memes and self-deprecating jokes regarding our motherhood are no longer funny, but are instead, a thinly veiled attempt to make ourselves not feel so badly about something we shouldn’t feel badly about in the first place.

We need to champion and cheer on one another. We need to encourage rather than tear down. We need to accept that not a one of us is perfect no matter how our lives may appear on Instagram. And for the love of all that’s good and holy, we need to stop accepting mom guilt as normal and healthy. As if walking through life feeling like we’re never quite measuring up as a parent is okay. Because you know what makes a “good” mom (or dad)? It’s a mom whose kids know they’re loved regardless of the size of their parties, the cost of their clothes, or the busy-ness of their schedule. It’s a mom who is willing to mess up and apologize and ask for forgiveness and keep on truckin’. It’s a mom who is willing to say “no” for health of herself and her family and not feel like she has to please everyone else. It’s a mom who is more concerned with the people her children are becoming on the inside rather than how things appear outwardly. It’s a mom who holds her kids accountable, that doesn’t give them everything they want, and makes them do the hard things. It’s a mom who loves and prioritizes Jesus first, her husband (if she’s married . . . if not just cross this one out) second, and her kids third. It’s a mom that knows that everything else will work out if these priorities are right.

So that’s it. I refuse to feel guilty over stupid stuff. I refuse to try to please everyone in some sort of pitiful attempt to not feel guilt that is totally uncalled for and unnecessary. I will say “no” when appropriate. I will celebrate and love my kids well daily. I will mess up. I will apologize. I will not pass judgment on other moms. I will encourage and cheer you on. Because we’re all doing our best, and with the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, our best is more than enough.


His Power, My Strength . . . To Be a God-Fearing Woman

There’s an oft repeated quote that says, “Strong women, may we know them, may we raise them, may we be them,” author unknown. I understand the sentiment. To an extent, I even agree. But on this International Women’s Day, here’s what I would like to add . . .

I don’t want to just raise a strong woman. I don’t want to just be a strong woman. I want to raise a Godly woman. I want to be a Godly woman. To live a life that first and foremost serves and brings glory to my Savior. I want to remember every single day that it is in my weakness His power is made perfect, and I am not required to, nor I am I truly capable of, being strong in my own right. I want to look to the women of the bible as my role models . . . Ruth, Esther, Mary, Deborah, Abigail, Dorcas, Jochebed, Rahab . . . perfectly, imperfect . . . yet willing to stand and serve God when called upon.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

In a world and a culture, that doesn’t see the value of being a wife and a mother . . . that doesn’t realize that there is so much beauty in who God created us to be as women . . . that believes that to dedicate your life to caring for your family is settling for less than . . . I want to emulate the Proverbs 31 wife and mother. I want bring my husband good and not harm. I want to be hard working and wise and a servant to my family, but above all, I want to fear the Lord. I say basically this same thing every year on this day, but with each passing year I find these words from Proverbs even more impactful and true. This is what and who I want to be, not only today but every day. I pray that among all the things that will mark my life here on this earth, the greatest will be that I am a woman who fears the Lord. That in all my weaknesses, His power is made perfect, and that more than anything else, my life will point to my Savior and bring glory to Him.

The Virtuous Wife

An excellent wife, who can find her?

For her worth is far above jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in

And he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good and not evil

All the days of her life.

She looks for wool and linen,

And works with her hands in

She is like merchant ships;

She brings her food from afar.

And she rises while it is still night

And gives food to her household,

And portions to her attendants.

She considers a field and buys it;

From her earnings she plants a

She surrounds her waist with strength

And makes her arms strong.

She senses that her profit is good;

Her lamp does not go out at night.

She stretches out her hands to
the distaff,

And her hands grasp the spindle.

She extends her hand to the poor,

And she stretches out her hands to
the needy.

She is not afraid of the snow for
her household,

For all her household are
clothed with scarlet.

She makes coverings for herself;

Her clothing is fine linen and

Her husband is known in the gates,

When he sits among the elders of
the land.

She makes linen garments and
sells them,

And supplies belts to
the tradesmen.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

And she smiles at the future.

She opens her mouth in wisdom,

And the teaching of kindness is on
her tongue.

She watches over the activities of
her household,

And does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and
bless her;

Her husband also, and he
praises her, saying:

“Many daughters have done nobly,

But you excel them all.”

Charm is deceitful and beauty is

But a woman who fears the
LORD, she shall be praised.

Give her the product of her hands,

And let her works praise her in the

Proverbs 31:10-31


As For Me and My House . . .

I was reading the book of Amos (Chapter 4) this morning . . . a book that documents the absolute refusal of Israel to repent regardless of cost or consequence. And I couldn’t help but once again, see the parallels between Israel and the current state of our own nation. Gross unrepentance by so many. Refusal to turn to God no matter what. Insistence on plowing forward headlong into hedonism and self-serving even to the point of destruction.

As I was reading and praying, I realized, that yes, our nation needs to turn back to God, and we’ve seen movements . . . revivals . . . recently, within colleges and universities here in the United States and in various places around the world, that bring me such great hope. I believe so deeply that this next generation is being set up to reach the world for Christ like never before. But the absolute truth is, it doesn’t start at that level. It doesn’t start big and get smaller. It starts small and grows exponentially from there. It starts with a tiny seed. It starts in each individual heart, and then in each individual home and family. It’s why I believe so fervently in the institution of family and God ordained, biblical marriage. It’s why I believe in the biblical outline and authority set up by God, for marriage . . . between one man and one woman, who are absolutely equal in God’s eyes, but also, with the husband as the head of the marriage and the house, leading the family with sacrificial love.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:22-31

These scriptures and this line of thinking are not wildly popular, even amongst Christians. And to some extent that’s on Christians because for years, we’ve only gotten it partly right. We’ve hit some of the points, but rarely do we hit them all. These verses have been twisted and abused by men and women to get their own way. They’ve been taken piecemeal and used to manipulate and control, but that was never what God intended. Having said that, the devil has had a heyday with attacking what God intended to be holy and sacred in our marriages and families, and we’ve let him. Sometimes we even jump on board. I could write a book about this topic, and entire books have been written, but I’ll just say, if you’re married, this is the rulebook you should be following, in its entirety, if you want a Godly, thriving, biblical marriage. God never gets anything wrong. Period. And I’ll go further and say, I believe this is where the repentance and transformation begin. Not in a big auditorium or stadium with thousands of people . . . not in our churches on Sunday mornings . . . not in our bible studies and small groups on weeknights . . . we want and need to see transformation and repentance in all those places, but it starts at home. It’s why I believe the restoration of biblical marriage and the family unit are so important. It starts in our families . . . in each individual heart . . . in our marriages and in our family units and extending outward. Because that’s where change and transformation start. That’s where repentance begins.

And to take it one step further, if we are parents, we have not only a huge responsibility, but the great privilege, of raising our children to love and serve and know God. It’s not that we’re perfect . . . far from it, and thankfully, there is grace and forgiveness and redemption for all our mess ups and mistakes and sins at the foot of the cross . . . but we have a responsibility placed on us by God to raise our children in a Godly home. To guide and lead and teach them the things of God, the love of God, and yes, the statutes and commands of God. Ultimately, we can’t choose to follow God for them. As teenagers and young adults, they are going to have to choose which path to follow, but we need to be doing everything we can, taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible, to set them up for success. And as parents we have to walk the walk . . . we can’t depend on everyone else to raise our children in the things of God for us . . . we have live out what it looks like to serve and follow Christ . . . not just on Sunday morning but daily.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way they should go. The way they should go . . . not the way we wish they’d go . . . not living vicariously through our children . . . not in giving them everything they want and we wish we’d had as a child . . . but in asking God how to teach and lead and guide them in the way they should go. This takes courage, boldness, and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. It takes standing your ground at times even when they may be angry with you. It takes leading not just with words but by example. It means apologizing and seeking forgiveness when you get it wrong . . . and yes, God knows, I often get it wrong.

Back to Amos 4 . . . I don’t have all the answers, but I truly believe that if we want to see a nation and a world reached for Christ rather than a people who repeatedly choose to live unrepentant come what may . . . if we want true, deep, lasting transformation . . . if we want revival that leads to repentance and salvation of the lost . . . then we have to start in our homes and with our families . . . with our marriages and with our children. It doesn’t have to be super spiritual. I’m not saying you need to have hours long prayer services every day in your homes. I am saying, put up the phones, put away the devices, connect with your kids, play games, talk about life and God and all the things, drag them out of their bedrooms (not literally . . . and it won’t kill them), engage with them, let them see you reading God’s word, pray with them and for them, ask their forgiveness when you mess up, and when appropriate (not everything needs to be shared with your children), let them see your struggles . . . believe me, my family is well aware of how imperfect I am, and I’m certainly not saying to be holier than thou, fake, and pretend to have all together all the time. Kids can smell insincere and fake a million miles away. Be real, and as we’ve been saying in Christian circles for decades, let them see you not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Because you can send them to every Sunday School class, every church camp and retreat, every youth service, and never miss anything anytime the church doors are open, but if you’re not living it, in a very real way in front of them, in your home, they will know. And believe me, they will take note. We have to walk out our salvation, day by day, humbly trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, fill us, and change us, and subsequently, our families, our communities, our world will see the effects and reap the benefits of that.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Random, Disconnected, Bullet Point Thoughts . . .

  • It is February 23rd here in Central Texas, and I am wearing shorts . . . not because I’m a teenage boy that refuses to wear pants no matter the temperature, lest anyone need clarification. I’m wearing shorts because it’s HOT in Texas. I love me some spring y’all, but it’s too soon for it to be almost ninety degrees.
  • With that heat comes humidity. And with humidity comes my crazy big hair. My hair has always been wavy and thick and kind of hard to manage, but I swear it has changed some in the past few years and is wavier and crazier than ever before. It grows exponentially larger with each percentage increase in humidity. It’s fantastic. And yes, I have a whole barrage of products I use to help manage this crazy mop on my head. At this point I need no suggestions.
  • Speaking of products . . . for most of my life (i.e. the first 40 years) I owned pretty much nothing in the way of skin care. I washed my face twice a day with Dove soap. I’ve never slept in my make up (when I wear it which is only a couple times/week) . . . not in high school, not in college . . . and I used basic drug store moisturizer and sometimes sunscreen, and as I’ve already said, I washed my face twice a day religiously. Enter my 40s, and stupid things like fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and the like . . . suddenly, I wish I owned stock in Ulta. The reason is evidenced by the photo below. I do have lines I won’t cross in the name of at least trying to age with some grace. Clearly buying every face product ever made by Clinique is not crossing that line. This is my life now, multiple face products and things like skin cycling. It’s some kind of ridiculous, but it is what it is. (And please don’t try to sell me face “stuff”. I’m not in the market.)
  • While we’re on the topic of self-care in your 40s, let’s talk about preventative “maintenance”. This is not a topic, I’m super comfortable about being vocal about because privacy, but nothing about breast cancer or heart disease or type 2 diabetes is private. Ladies (and gentlemen), you need to be going to the doctor yearly. You need to be doing the appropriate preventive care, mammograms, bloodwork, skin checks, colonoscopies, etc. Taking care of your body is not a sin, and preventative care does not show a lack of faith. I’d say quite the opposite. God has given us so much in the way of medical wisdom and preventive care, and while we certainly don’t hold those things above Him, I believe it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves as much as we can here on this earth. Call and schedule that appointment. It may not be the most fun, but it is so important.
  • On another note, let’s talk about podcasts. I listen to a variety . . . Christian based marriage, theological, true crime . . . I’m here for it all. I started listening to a podcast last week entitled The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. If you’re an evangelical Christian, you know what I’m talking about. Going into this podcast I was skeptical. I have no love lost on Mark Driscoll, but what I wasn’t looking for was a Driscoll bashing session. I actually do have points where I agree with him, but overall I find him crass, disrespectful, and crude. Having said that, I have no use for being critical simply for the sake of being critical. Thankfully, that’s not what this is. Instead, it is, a cautionary tale of holding pastors and evangelists up as celebrities, of the abuse of authority, and the dangers in idolizing any man or woman. And make no mistake, I think the idolization of men and women is prevalent in western Christianity. Respect is important, but also, we need to test everything against the authority of God’s word, and if it doesn’t line up, it has to go. If at any point we see any man or woman as never being wrong or having the inability to be wrong, then we have a huge issue. All that to say, in a world where it seems like more and more pastors are struggling with moral failures, that, whether we like it or not, do extensive damage to our witness to a lost world, there are lessons to be learned from Mars Hill but not only from Mars Hill. We’d be remiss if we don’t step back and evaluate what has gotten us to this point. That got some kind of serious real quickly, but I encourage you to listen to the podcast in its entirety. I didn’t agree with everything, but it made me really stop and think.
  • And . . . on a lighter(ish) note . . . basketball is over, at least for high school, and I’m kind of sad. We’ve kept track of not only our boys’ and girls’ teams at our school, but of all the teams in our district. Yesterday, I listened to our high school girls’ game on a “radio”/internet broadcast because I wasn’t able to go to the actual game and because that’s who I am now, a full-fledged basketball mom (my niece was playing along with some of my son’s friends so I had reason to listen). And while y’all know I am the biggest champion for letting my kids grow up, I cannot believe that Andrew is almost finished with his freshman year in high school. What is happening? He’s going to be sixteen soon, and y’all I need all the prayer because I’m not ready for him to be behind the wheel on his own. As far as basketball goes, there’s always college and NBA games, and I’m sure we’ll fully enjoy some March madness around these parts. But goodness this school year has flown.
  • Last but certainly least, my sciatic nerve is giving me fits once again. Specifically, I have piriformis syndrome . . . go ahead and look it up and then thank me for over sharing. Seeing as how this whole post is TMI why not??? One might think it’s just something that happens with age, but let me be real clear here, it is 100% because I don’t stretch. This has been happening to varying degrees for over 10 years because I do intense workouts that require stretching, and then I fail to actually stretch. Why? I don’t know. I don’t want to??? I honestly hate stretching. I stretched today because there’s nothing like trying to get the cows back in the barn after the door has been left open (speaking from the experience of someone who maybe left a gate open once or twice in her younger years) . . . maybe I’ll learn, but probably not.


You may have heard about the outbreak of revival at Asbury University in Kentucky. Last week a chapel service started that has yet to come to an end, and for over a week now, the students of Asbury have been worshipping almost continually. Last night, my husband, who is one of the most God fearing, biblically sound people I know, asked me what I thought about it. Not because he’s a skeptical person by nature, but because he’s very cautious about trying to “gin up” as he often says, a move of God. I’ve honestly been processing this for the entire last week as I’ve watched what has been happening with these kids . . . and yes, they’re mostly still kids . . . at Asbury. My initial reaction, which I do not think was wrong, was “Wow! God is doing something at this school.” I believe this generation, Generation Z, is sitting on the edge of a precipice not seen by any generation prior. I believe, they are being set up, by God, to be radical missionaries and world changers for Christ. I believe, in a world and a culture that is in rapid decline, these young followers of Christ will both reach others for Him on scale we have never seen before and also be persecuted, quite possibly in unfathomable ways, for their boldness and love of Jesus. Which is why I think the discussion about Asbury is so important right now. And the questions . . . Is this real? . . . Is this sincere? . . . Or is this an emotionally driven event? . . . need to be asked and addressed.

I’m not at Asbury. But what I can say from what I’ve observed, mostly via social media posts, is I believe there is a deep sincerity to what is happening. I see a hunger for the things of God . . . for a real relationship with Him, and I do not discount that this could very well be the beginnings of revival.

On under definition number one for the word revival it states, “restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.”.

Restoration to life . . . bringing back that which was dead. When I say I do not discount that this could be the beginnings of revival that’s where I believe the key is. I have sat in worship services that I did not want to end. I am not an overly emotional person, and when I say I wanted it to continue, it was not from a place of being overwhelmed emotionally. It was from a place of being so fully in the presence of my Savior, of catching just a glimpse of how close heaven really is and knowing, in that moment, that there is literally nothing that compares to worshipping the One, True, Living God. But I don’t think that’s the end all, be all of revival . . . I believe it’s the beginnings of revival.

Revival isn’t an event. It’s not a series of meetings or something that only happens within the four walls of a church. It’s so much more, and if we never carry it out of that place where it has begun. . . if it never leaves the four walls of a church building . . . then I’m not sure we can call it true revival. I believe revival is marked by transformation and repentance . . . it is marked by a hunger for the Word of God . . . a desire to spend time in His word and in prayer . . .ultimately it is marked, by going out into the world and reaching others for Christ. I believe that revival often begins with a sincere move of God, such as this one at Asbury, and as hearts and lives are changed, it spreads outward and cannot be contained.

The reality is, we have to live this life here on Earth. We have jobs, and families, and bills to pay, and responsibilities. I’m going to say this, and I’m sure that someone, somewhere is going to gasp and be horrified, but we were never called to infinite worship services this side of heaven . . . and there will come a time when, if this is truly revival, those who have lived it and experienced it are called to go . . . to go into their homes, their classrooms, their workplaces, their families . . . to go out into the world and share what God has done in their own lives. Because as followers of Christ, we have been commissioned to “go”.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

True revival is an internal transformation with external consequences and effects. I am praying for the students at Asbury University because I see God doing something beautiful in their hearts. But I’m not just praying for them. The reality is we all need revival, but we don’t have to pack up and travel to Asbury (although, for those that have gone to pray over these students and witness it with their own eyes, I think that’s awesome), or any place, near or far, to experience revival. Revival starts in our hearts. It starts with us repenting before God and asking the Holy Spirit to fill us and dwell in us, to lead us, and guide us. It starts with us opening our Bibles and diving deeply into His word. It can happen in our homes – our kitchens and our living rooms . . . it can take place in our churches, our classrooms, and even our cars . . . revival isn’t about an event as much as it’s about fully submitting to the Lordship of Christ.

Evangelist Gipsy Smith, who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s, once said, “Do you really want to see a revival begin? Then go back to your home and draw a circle around you on the floor. Then get down on your knees in the middle of the circle and ask God to convert everybody inside that circle. When you do that, and God answers, you are experiencing the start of revival.”

Equal Not Even

If you’ve been here more than a minute, you know I have two kids. A fifteen-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter. I love both of them fiercely and unconditionally, and obviously, I love them equally.

But loving my kids equally does not mean that everything in our house is always even. Because as much as love my children equally, they are two, very different people. For one, my oldest is a boy, and my youngest is a girl so by virtue of the gender that God gave them, they are automatically different. Add to that they have incredibly different strengths and weaknesses and vastly different temperaments. They have different needs and wants and personalities. And there are times in each of their lives when one needs something the other doesn’t and vice versa . . . maybe that’s an actual physical need (clothes, shoes, etc.). . . maybe that’s an emotional need . . . maybe one needs specifically separate time and attention. Not to mention there is a pretty large age difference between the two so while the eldest definitely has more privileges and independence appropriate to his age and maturity, he also has a lot more expectations and responsibilities, also age and maturity appropriate.

I think a lot of parents worry heavily about things being even. If I go to this event for one, I must reciprocate with my other child(ren). If I buy something for this one, I must spend the exact same amount on the other. If I spend time with one, I must spend equal time with the other. As if there’s a scale that continually has to be balanced. While I’m certainly not a proponent of giving all your time and attention to one child whilst neglecting the other . . . I’m most definitely not saying that . . . the reality is, it’s impossible to balance the scales perfectly. And it’s kind of ridiculous to run ourselves ragged trying. Sometimes the scale tips heavily in the favor on one child, but then the weight shifts, and we go the other way. Such is life.

At the end of the day, as I’ve said many times, our goal is to raise independent adults, not grown-up children that expect us to do for them what they are capable of doing for themselves. Of course, when I say “independent”, as the mother of one child with some special needs, I fully realize that what is fully independent for one is vastly different for another . . . thus the “equal not even” heading.

We allow a lot of independence with our eldest, and he’s gaining more independence as he grows older. Yes, he has a smart phone which at this point still has some rules and restrictions . . . but he has one . . . he has to learn to handle technology appropriately, and I don’t think tossing it at him for the first time when he’s eighteen and leaving home is wise. And in case anyone is wondering, we do not, at this point, allow any devices in their bedrooms (even televisions . . .). I honestly have no idea when my oldest actually goes to bed. I don’t regulate his bedtime other than saying “goodnight . . . love you . . . go to your room now”, but I figure he’s much more likely to actually go to sleep at some point if he doesn’t have device to distract him. Yes, he gets to make a lot of choices and decisions on his own. Yes, he has an appropriate and probably what seems like to some, large(ish) number of responsibilities. Yes, he’s expected to work for actual money to help cover the cost of sports equipment (namely, shoes . . . and we expect him to contribute to those costs), and meals out with friends, and all the extras . . . we’re not his ATM machine. Earning his own money lends a sense of accomplishment, and learning money management is so important. No, I do not sit with him and hold his hand while he works and studies nor do I hound him (too much) about his studies. It’s not for lack of wanting. Believe me when I say, it’s a temptation to jump in every chance I get, and sometimes I fail at keeping my mouth shut. But I have to pull back and remind myself that, he’s rapidly ascending in young adulthood. He will be leaving home in a few years, and not only do young adults not need hovering mothers, but he has to learn to make the right choices without my voice or his dad’s constantly at his back.

We’ve always been very protective of our kids in their younger years. Protective of their hearts and minds and spirits. We have reasonable expectations of them as part of our family that will remain as long as they live with us, but as they grow the protectiveness that is both important and needed when they’re young, can quickly become overreaching and damaging when they’re older. There comes a point . . . not necessarily a certain age because each child is different, and for some children that point may come much later . . . where we have to start slowly pulling back. To re-emphasize, this is not to say we don’t have rules and expectations. Our house is not a free for all.

I could spend hours belaboring the point of raising independent adults, but it’s really just an aside to my main point. It’s where the “equal not even” comes in. My youngest has far less responsibility. She doesn’t have the same expectations placed on her, but she also doesn’t have nearly the same freedoms. The most obvious reason for that is her age. Nine-year-olds, don’t need or deserve the same freedoms as fifteen-year-olds. But the reality is, because of both her personality and her needs, both responsibilities and the freedoms will likely come more slowly for her. What was healthy and normal for our eldest as a young teen, could be incredibly damaging and detrimental for her if given too early. So yes, the playbook looks different because my kids are different. The attention and time, the expectations and even financial responsibilities are different because they have different needs.

At the end of the day, our children are individuals, and they deserve to be treated as such. There’s not perfect rule book for parenting, and I’d say most of us are doing the best we can. I pray daily for wisdom and patience, because the good Lord knows I need it. I pray constantly that I won’t be too much or too little, and what I’ve learned, is that even when I don’t get it all right, these are the children with which God has entrusted me. It’s no mistake they’re mine, and I have to trust that even when I have no clue what I’m doing, He has it all under control.

Disclaimer: I am a mom of a child with special needs. I have no issue acknowledging or owning that. My child is so uniquely and beautifully made, and some of the things that have come about as a result of those needs are truly miraculous. I, however, would be remiss if I ignored the fact that there are parents who are sitting there saying, “My child will never reach this point . . . they won’t even get close . . .”. I just want you to know, I understand and acknowledge that. I know that for some children even an iota of independence is not possible, and if that’s your particular child, then I know the choices and decisions you make in loving them well and preparing them for adulthood looks so different from the typical family.

What to Do with Fear and the Like . . .

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 2 Corinthians 7:5-6

I was reading 2 Corinthians 7 this morning, and when I got to these two verses, I thought, “These two, seemingly obscure and easy to skim right past, verses can preach an entire sermon.”

I love Paul. He never minces words, and he’s honest and straightfoward. These scriptures are no exception. He doesn’t deny reality or pretend that he was feeling so full of faith. He says it like it is. “Our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. . . “. Do you know what that word “fears” means in the greek? It’s from the word “phobos” (which is where we get our word phobia), and it means “panic flight, fear, the causing of fear, terror” (Strong’s 5401). They weren’t a “little” bit anxious. They were struggling internally with terror, and Paul doesn’t deny it. But then he goes on to say “Nevertheless God . . .”. Let me say it louder for the people in the back . . . He doesn’t say, “My faith rose up, and I denied my fear, and I’m such a strong follower of Christ” . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . Nope . . . He says, “Nevertheless God . . .” Paul was keenly aware of how incapable and not good he was in his own right. He saw himself as a servant of Christ, and that, right there, is the answer. None of us have the market on being a “good” enough Christian. That is the biggest oxymoron ever, and it totally negates the need for Christ. Paul had fears, God still came through. Because Paul knew that it wasn’t about him. He knew that acknowledging his struggles, fears, and challenges didn’t somehow render God powerless.

Within much of the church we have this superstitious, new age, line of thinking that if we say and acknowledge what’s going on in our hearts and our lives . . . if we admit we’re afraid, unwell, struggling . . . we’ll somehow manifest it (and vice versa) . . . newsflash . . . that’s straight out of new age teachings . . . the principal of manifestation and law of attraction are not biblical. On the contrary Paul repeatedly acknowledges his weaknesses. He doesn’t pretend like they don’t exist, but instead, makes the point of humbling himself and exalting Christ in him. Acknowledging the reality of what we’re facing isn’t a sin . . . feeling fear isn’t a sin . . . letting fear (or any emotion) control us, is . . . and denial isn’t anything more than a dressed up lie. But we have to look at reality in light of Christ. We must be constantly and continually turning toward God. Also acknowledging that He is the one who holds the power to heal, deliver, and set free. And no matter what the circumstances look like here on this earth . . . no matter the outcome of our struggles . . . it’s in no way a dismissal to say, in Christ we win, because we do. We don’t have to fear because this life is “but a vapor”, and if we know Jesus, we’ll live forever in Heaven with Him. There’s no losing as a Christian. No. Losing.

I’m one of those people that runs hot a lot of the time. I have approximately 25 windows open in my brain at any given moment, and the spiral into anxiety isn’t ever super far away for me. I don’t deny that. I’ll probably tell you up front, “Feeling a bit anxious today,” and I’d say, 95% of the time, there’s no good reason. I just have a pretty intense personality which I believe God blessed me with . . . it gets things done . . . but if I’m not careful, that intensity sometimes goes awry. But even more likely than telling someone else, which typically doesn’t help (because advice . . . ), I’ve learned to go to God. To be honest and truthful with my struggles because y’all He already knows. I fight with the truth of Who I know God is and how His word tells us to deal. And here’s where I find such great comfort. In the grand scheme, this earthly life is very temporary. The problems we face today, even if they feel tragic and insurmountable, are a drop in the bucket of time, and the promise of eternity with my Savior is absolutely real.

Having said all that, it always helps to know exactly where to turn in God’s word when fighting the battles we face:

Win or lose . . . in Christ we always we always win: For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:19-21

Pray . . . pray . . . pray . . . praise and prayer get it done: Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:13-18

These lives are temporary and none of us really know what tomorrow hold, but God does. I’m cool with that: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. James 4:13-16

Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Psalm 39:4-5

The answer to anxiety? Prayer and petition . . . take it to God: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

God’s thoughts for us are good (and I know, He’s specifically speaking to the children of Israel in captivity here, but I also believe it’s applicable for us, today): For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

And ultimately, fear happens. It’s an emotion we’ll all face, but it doesn’t have to take over our lives. We don’t function out of a place of fear: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

This is the short list. I didn’t include all of Psalm 91 or numerous passages in Isaiah. Lastly, I apologize, if I seemed a bit punchy in the beginning . . . I wasn’t a full cup of coffee in before I started writing, but I firmly believe, we have to stop the hocus pocus, magical thinking in the body of Christ. Soundness of doctrine is important. Soundness of what we’re teaching is non-debatable (see James 3:1), and we need to be going to back to the bible before anything else. And by “anything”, I mean any other person’s words, lessons, teachings, etc., because they can sound great, but if they’re not biblical, they’re not right.

Familiarity Breeds . . .

Well, I wrote an entire post regarding the quote below. Then my internet had a moment, and as it does from time to time, the page crashed. Everything was gone and apparently, irretrievable . . . at least by me. So let’s try this again.

“Familiarity breeds contempt.”

Chaucer (definitely but maybe not originally)

Do I believe this is true?

Yes, in some instances, I 100% believe this is true. It’s why relationships fail after the newness wears off. It’s why people jump from job to job, home to home, church to church, friendship to friendship . . . and are never satisfied. It’s why we want more stuff, and when we get more stuff, we’re satisfied for a minute, but then we’re tired of it. So, we want newer, better, stuff to fill the need we think we have . . . and the cycle repeats. We get bored and familiar and become contemptous.

But I do not believe that familiarity always breeds contempt. Nor do I think familiarity is, in and of itself, bad. There can be a level of intimacy and contentment that comes from familiarity that is very good.

Like so many things, I think we get out what we put in. If we put in constant complaining and griping, then we’re going to end up angry and bitter and full of contempt. And the more familiar, the more comfortable, we become in our situation, the easier it is to fall into the griping and complaining. I do believe that familiarity often magnifies faults and diminishes the good, and if we do not make an effort to actively fight against dwelling on the faults and wrongs in our circumstances and relationships, contempt and dissatisfaction will only grow.

At the same time, familiarity can also bring out the best in us . . . in both our circumstances and our relationships. Familiarity treated well, can make us comfortable and confident in a way that allows us to be who God created us to be. It’s at that point that we give our best and receive from others and are truly free to grow.

Obviously, this only works if all involved are putting in the work, but as I’ve learned in life, I can only really be responsible for my own actions, behaviors, and words. And ultimately, I have to trust God that He’s going to lead me and guide me in the direction I should go, the places I should remain, and the places I should leave, the relationships to keep, and those to let go . . . the key in all of it is not if I ever need to make changes, changes will happen, but the attitude I have as I go about those transitions and changes. Because almost without fail, our biggest transitions and changes in life, come from places of deep familiarity and sometimes even difficulty. So, the question is will I be contemptuous in the changes, or will I go about them from a place of grace and contentment?

Two of my favorite passages of scripture come from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Philippians 2:14-16

It’s not just because this one is fun to toss at my kids when they’re complaining about all the things. I mean it’s a useful one y’all, but there is a purpose to our not complaining. There is a point in our refusal to grumble. When we let the Holy Spirit shut our mouths, believe me I need work in this area, and we allow Him to control what our words and attitudes, we are a light in a very dark world.

And just a couple chapters later, still writing to the church in Philippi, Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

It’s not something that comes naturally to us as humans, but it is something we can, like so many other important things in life, learn to do. And I’ll go even further and say, if we’re followers of Christ, we have no excuses, and a responsibility to live in such a way that points others to Him. Our contempt, our complaining, our grumbling, and dissatisfaction only serve to do the opposite. We are called to be light. We are called to stand out in all the best ways. So, as hard as it is to fight against the temptation to complain and grumble, we must. And if and when the time does come for us to move on and move forward whether our circumstances be good or not so great, even if we’ve been wronged, we must do so with a level of grace that can only be attributed to Christ in us.

Ultimately the way we answer the question “Does familiarity breed contempt?” is up to us. We can let familiarity lead to grumbling and grumbling lead to contempt and dissatisfaction. Or we can let familiarity lead to a richness in both life and relationships that can only come when you move past the initial stages of a relationship or a circumstance. We can let God guide us in our familiarity and allow us to build intimacy in deep ways. We can let that familiarity lead to gratitude and contentment and deeper intimacy both with God and those around us. Familiarity definitely does not have to breed contempt.

LOVE . . . Welcome to February

But if anyone has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not for me, but in some degree—not to say too much—for all of you. Sufficient for such a person is this punishment which was imposed by the majority, so that on the other hand, you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a person might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.”  2 Corinthians 2:5-8

forgive – to show favor, give freely – Strong’s 5483 (charizomai)

reaffirm – to make valid – Strong’s 2964 (kuroó)

February 1st – the start of the month of all things love. I think when most of think of Valentine’s Day, we automatically jump straight to romantic love . . . flowers, and candy, and dates . . . there’s most certainly nothing wrong with any of that. But as I was reading these verses just a few minutes ago, I thought to myself, “How fitting for the start of February.” These words Paul wrote, not only about actively forgiving those who have wronged us, but also about reaffirming our love for those people, are such a perfect start The Month of Love. And I think, in a world that really doesn’t grasp love and its real meaning, we need to expand our definition and understanding of what love truly is (and in many cases, isn’t). Love is not an emotion or a feeling. It’s not something fleeting or hard to grasp, and it’s most certainly not something we fall in and out of depending on our mood (or hormones) that day. Love is a decision we make daily, and an action we undertake toward those in our lives. We need to learn to both love extravagantly and forgive extravagantly because we have been loved and forgiven so extravagantly by our Savior.

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

We’ve all heard the saying. I’d venture most of us use it. I know I have. And while I’m by no means advocating setting ourselves up to be abused and manipulated, I also, don’t think we walk in the level of love and forgiveness in which Jesus intended the church walk. We say things like, “I can forgive but not forget . . . ” or “I love them, but I don’t like them . . . ” when in all actuality, we haven’t forgiven at all. And these are thinly veiled ways of holding a grudge. Reality is, we’re not going to be besties with everyone. Reality is, not every personality type is going to always mesh. But the other reality, I’ve been faced with as of late, is that I need to do some serious heart checks about how I think about and act toward others. I need to ask myself and the Holy Spirit, if I’m using those differences of personality and personal convictions as an excuse to walk in unforgiveness, ungraciousness, and lack of love toward those around me.

I don’t just want this month to be about love as a feeling. I don’t want to limit it to the gushy, romance that we associate with what is a fun, but highly commercialized, holiday. I want to commit to letting God change those things in my heart that need changing. To remember that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). There isn’t a human walking this earth that God doesn’t unconditionally love and deeply desire to be in relationship with. There isn’t a single person that He didn’t send His son to die for (John 3:16), and so it seems like the least I could do is submit myself to the conviction to love others deeply. To allow Him to transform my heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), and to commit, with the help and enabling of the Holy Spirit (because y’all, there is no other way), to loving others more boldly and extravagantly than ever before.