On Being Called . . . Or Not . . .

A couple weeks ago, I shared (not for the first time and likely not for last either) this, one of my favorite quotes from Priscilla Shirer, on my personal Instagram page. Along with this quote, I wrote the following caption:

“This is something that has and is taking a long time for me to learn. I don’t have to be all or do it all. I only have to do what God is calling me to do, and that calling, on a personal level, is between God and me, and on a family level, between God and us (“us” being Patrick and me). Doing things out of compulsion or guilt or to keep others happy, outside of what God is calling us to, only leads to resentment and misery.”

I never thought I was a people pleaser. I’ve always seen myself as strong, opinionated, and independent. But in recent years, as I’ve written about in this space more than a few times, I’ve discovered that I hate letting people down. I hate telling them “no” even when I absolutely should not be saying “yes”, and it is of the utmost importance to my mental, emotional, and spiritual health that I learn to say “no”. I’ve gone into that ad nauseam in the past.

Here’s the thing I want to unpack just a bit more . . . the word “assignment” . . . or to put it another way, calling . . .

I’ve spent my entire life in the church. I was raised in a family that spent many years “in the ministry” and married into a family that is also “in the ministry”. Something I’ve both had happen to me, as well as witnessed happening to others, is people, sometimes well intentioned, sometimes not so much, feeling as if they need to be the voice of God for those around them. Only, it’s more a way to get people to do what you want them to do and less about God’s calling. To put it very simply, it’s thinly veiled manipulation. It usually goes something like this, “God is telling me that you should _______”. Because if you tack “God said” onto whatever it is you think someone else should be doing, they’re obligated. Sorry, that doesn’t work with me . . . at least not anymore.

Now I will say, I do firmly believe there are definitely times when God speaks directly to us through others. I do not automatically discount the words of others. There are times when I need that nudge or encouragement from someone I trust, that I know has my best interest in mind, but I’ve found, almost without exception, when a person is speaking to me about God’s calling and direction in my life (or our lives . . . because that’s often how it works when you’re married) it is a confirmation of what God has already been working on in my heart. I actually experienced this very recently.

For quite a while, I’ve felt God tugging us to begin (the slow process) of moving in a certain direction with our youngest (I know . . . vague . . . sorry . . . that’s all I’m willing to give you today). So much about the timing of this pretty significant (both for her and us) change hasn’t been super clear to me, but I do know that I feel “called”, to use the Christianese term, to begin planning and moving in this particular direction. Last Sunday, I was talking to one of my most precious friends, and I asked her if she would be praying about this specific thing. Keep in mind, this is not something we’ve ever discussed before, but when I mentioned it to her, she looked at me and said something to the effect of, “I’ve been praying about that for a long time! I felt like God put it on my heart over a year ago.” That, right there, was massive confirmation. I already knew what God had laid on my heart, so it wasn’t out of left field, and yet, I was once again in awe of how God does this. How he confirms to me what I already know. Here’s what, in my opinion, I think my friend got so right. She didn’t march into church and tell me what God was calling me to do. She didn’t try to give me all the answers as to timing or how this would all play out. She never even broached the subject with me (if God had told her to, I’m sure she would’ve obeyed). She just prayed, and will continue to pray, because she felt God directing her to. When the time was right, He used her to confirm to me that I’m not totally crazy. That’s kind of a joke . . . I know I’m not crazy, but y’all, I have wondered if making this choice would be the definition of insanity. We’ll see how it all plays out. Even now, as I research and plan, I’m not sure about all the details or timing. This may be soon. It may be a couple years from now. What I do know is I trust that God will continue to guide our steps and make clear our path in this decision.

Circling back to calling. Here is what I want to say. As I stated above, your calling is between you and God, and if you’re married, it often encompasses you and your spouse and God because I believe that married couples are many times, but not always and exclusively, called together. Regardless, your callings should be, at the very least, complementary to one another’s. In Psalm 37 verse 4 it says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” I’ve found that the more I delight myself in God . . . the more I seek His face . . . the more time I spend in prayer and His word . . . the more I find I deeply desire what He is calling me to.

Likewise, I also find clarity on what He is not calling me to. I think sometimes that is just as important. I mentioned above, I have people-pleasing tendencies. That means, I have, more than once done things I should not have been doing merely because I didn’t want to make someone angry or disappointed. These are often very good, even Godly, things, but they are not supposed to be my thing.

Once again, I’ve written a novel to get to my point, and if you’ve stayed with me through all of this, bless you. But here’s the bottom line . . . your calling is your calling. It’s between you and God and like I said before, your spouse, if you’re married. Don’t discount the words and advice of those around you (there are many places in scripture that talk about the importance of wise counsel), but you don’t have to automatically assume that they are right either. Pray about it. Seek God’s direction personally. Read His word and trust that He’ll show you which path to follow. If it’s what He wants for your life . . . if you’re truly open to seeking His will and His desires for you . . . I promise you will know it. It will, maybe slowly, maybe quickly, become something you also desire. But if it’s not what He has for you, you’ll know that too, and it’s okay to step back and say, “I don’t believe this is the direction God is leading me.” Sometimes we become so afraid of missing God’s will for our lives that we jump into every opportunity presented to us without stopping to consider if it’s right. If you are seeking God and walking with Him, you’re not going to miss what He has for you.

For so much of my life, I was convinced that whatever God was going to call me to do, it was going to be the polar opposite of my desires . . . even if I was seeking and serving Him. Newsflash: God doesn’t set out to make us miserable. He wants us to find joy in our calling. That doesn’t mean it won’t be challenging. It doesn’t mean there won’t be times when we wonder what on earth we are doing. What it does mean is we will know, in the deepest part of our souls and spirits, we are where He wants us. That in spite of all the challenges and hardships that may come, we’ll also find deep contentment, joy, and peace, and we’ll have the desire to keep moving forward in that calling even when there are times when quitting crosses our minds. I think Jesus gave us the perfect example of this in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what He was called to do. He knew what was required of Him, and He knew it would be unbelievably, unimaginably painful so much so that He asked His Father to “take this cup”, and yet, at the same time, He made it clear He desired to fulfill His calling knowing that He would ultimately have the victory (Luke 22:41-44).

Miserable Christians are a horrible witness for Christ. Hard does not equal misery. And easy, the path of least resistance, does not always equal peace. Either way you look at it . . . whether you are choosing to avoid and ignore your calling (often to please others), or you are doing something you are not called to (usually out of obligation), you are setting yourself up for bitterness, resentment, and misery. Choose to seek God and trust that what He has or does not have for you is best.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Both Abased and Abounding . . . Flexibility and Contentment in 2023

Like over a million other people around the United States, at the beginning of this week we found ourselves casualties of Southwest Airlines’ massive meltdown. Thankfully, unlike so many of those people, we were home when our outgoing flight was cancelled, and we weren’t stuck in an airport trying to figure out how we were going to make our way back to Texas.

At the same time, we had been planning this trip (to Disneyland) for quite a while. When you plan and prepare for something, especially something fun that you and more importantly, your kiddos, have been looking forward to, only to have it cancelled at the last minute, disappointment abounds. For a minute or ten or twenty (or more), I sat in that disappointment. I was mad at Southwest Airlines. I was frustrated with trying to explain to my youngest, who has some special needs and struggles with abrupt changes, why we were having to reschedule. Plus, if you’ve been around for any amount of time, you know I’m an enneagram one. Without belaboring the whole enneagram thing, because I know some of you couldn’t care less, us enneagram ones do not deal well with these kinds of things. We are the perfectionists of the world, and we firmly believe that if you do things right in the first place then a lot of crises could be avoided. However, to play on a pretty well-known saying, failure to plan on your part . . . “your” in this case being Southwest Airlines. . . unfortunately, constituted an emergency and major pivot on my part. Add to that the fact that a big reason I love to travel is because I struggle so much to relax at home, I was just in a funk about the whole situation for about 24 hours.

The reality was and is, this was an annoyance . . . a frustration . . . and honestly, a pretty big mess up on the part of a major company that we’ve used and trusted many times over. But it was not a true crisis for our family. Far from it, and I needed to quickly do a reality check. We were and are safe. We were not stuck sleeping on an airport floor somewhere. And we were able to adjust and change our plans just fine. As I kept telling my youngest . . . but it was probably completely directed back at me . . . we needed to be flexible.

Which brings me to the why behind this epic saga of a story. Flexibility, as I’ve said before, is not my strong suit. When I make a plan, I don’t like to have it disrupted. This morning, as I was reading my bible and pondering the close of this year and the start of the new one, I realized that going into the New Year, my goal, word of the year, resolution . . . whatever you want to call it . . . can be summed up in one word, flexible. For 2022, my word was grace . . . to give it and extend it. I haven’t always been successful in that, grace is hard for me, so I’m keeping front and center for 2023, but I’ve realized that in order to give and receive grace, I must be more flexible.

For months now, I’ve been thinking about biblical contentment and holy discontentment. Paul was pretty direct when writing on contentment in regard to the physical world around us and material things . . .

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

We all know those people, more likely, we’ve all been those people, that are never really satisfied. We want more and more and more . . . maybe it’s materially speaking . . . maybe it’s from earthly relationships or experiences . . . but we’re like a bucket with a hole that can’t be filled. What we have is never enough. We neither know how to be abased (literally “going hungry”) or how to abound . . . to appreciate the abundance (and we live so abundantly here in America) we have . . . and what occurred to me is Paul had to incredibly flexible in order to live this way. He had to extend enormous amounts of grace in order to maintain his earthly contentment.

At the same time, there’s a place for holy discontentment . . . in our walk with our Savior and in our calling, and make no mistake, we all have a unique calling that is between Him and us. Throughout his epistles, Paul addresses this. Same book, just one chapter prior . . .

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

There is a call to holy discontentment that helps us to avoid stagnation in our walk with Christ. We should continually seek to deepen our relationship with Him. Perpetually, growing and moving forward. So, as we wrap up yet another year, I find myself seeking to be gracious and flexible, biblically content and yet, filled with a holy discontentment. To make a big deal out the things that matter and realize that the rest is all temporary and fleeting.

For Unto Us . . .

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

– Isaiah 9:6

I love Christmas. The lights and music . . . the decorations and gifts . . . the baking and shopping . . . Santa and his elves . . . I love it all. But if you take all of that away, the reason I really love Christmas is still there. The celebration of a Savior . . . my Savior . . . God come to earth as a babe to grow into a man who would die on a cross to save me from my sins . . .

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. – Matthew 1:21

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1: 14

It’s highly unlikely Jesus was born in December. We don’t know exactly when He was born. Some theologians say spring while others say fall . . . most are pretty adamant it wasn’t in December.

That first Christmas did not take place in a well-appointed home with beautiful decor, and the guests were not finely dressed in their holiday best. Rather than beautiful decorations, He was surrounded by animals in a barn . . . a feeding trough His first bed. No fanfare and red carpets . . . the humblest of beginnings. The guests, the shepherds, that came to celebrate His arrival were the poorest and lowest in society. Yet they came in awe and wonder to celebrate a baby that came to save all.

Yes, I love Christmas. And I love to celebrate all it brings, but I’m also careful to keep at the forefront the reason why we celebrate. “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, however it may look, I pray that you will know the beautiful, infinite, and unconditional love of a God that knew that we could never be good enough to reach Him, so He was more than willing to leave His throne, to come to earth, to live and die for us. These words from Isaiah aren’t just cliché . . . overused and hollow . . . they are exactly the opposite. He truly is Wonderful . . . you will never find a Counselor more understanding or that can bring such deep and complete healing . . . there is no God mightier than the One, True God . . . no Father more loving than our Heavenly Father . . . and on this day and every day, in a world that is chasing after so many things that do not bring even a modicum of happiness, there is a peace found in Jesus that cannot be found anywhere else.

I pray that today in the middle of all the busy-ness or the quiet, surrounded by loved ones or alone, whatever this day brings, you find the everlasting peace that can only come from the Prince of Peace. He’s no longer a babe in a manger. He’s the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He sits at the right hand of the Father. And He desires, more than anything, a personal relationship with you.

Merry Christmas!

On Calling, Adoption, Living Life, and Intentionality

Y’all know I’m supposed to be taking a break from writing . . .

And I’m about to officially start that break for real, but before I do . . .

I initially thought I’d hop on Instagram and share this as a quick post, but as the words came, I realized that this needed to be fleshed out a bit more on here. This morning, I opened up Timehop and read the following words, written eight years ago after we lost our first adoption placement and over six months before we would even know our Anna existed. I wrote this during what was one of the hardest, most confusing, and most heartbreaking years of my life. But I also knew, after months of intense prayer and struggle and honestly, wanting to quit, that I was, without a doubt right where God wanted me to be.

The words may be eight years old, but the sentiment and belief have not changed. I could camp out on the words in the beginning, the part about God not creating borders, and on the fact that I vehemently believe that when the Word of God says to “Go into all the world” He means ALL the world . . . that while I have every assurance that God loves Americans, and before anyone comes at me, I certainly love my country of birth, I also know that He loves every one, of every nationality and race, just as much. And, well, God isn’t American. He’s God. Creator of the universe. But enough about that because I’m sure someone is mad and done reading, and I want to address the rest of what I wrote. The “calling” part, if you’ll be so kind as to let me use that word. It’s the end of International Adoption Month, and maybe you’re not called to adoption . . . maybe you are . . . regardless of where you land, I promise you are called to help and participate in some way. There’s an image that has floated around the internet for years that says:


If you can’t adopt


If you can’t foster


If you can’t sponsor


If you can’t volunteer


If you can’t donate


Original Author Unknown

The Word of God doesn’t give us the option of not participating. It’s not an if but a when situation.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

I believe as Christians our lives aren’t just a series of coincidental circumstances. I believe that every step forward should be intertwined with our calling from God. I know there are people that don’t like the word “called” when it comes to adoption, but just as I believe I was called to be a mother to my oldest, I believe I, we, were called to adopt our daughter. I believe I was called to be a mother to both of my children, called to be a wife to my husband, called at one point to teach school, and after a decade in the classroom and a few years working part time, called to serve my family by staying home. It’s not that there is never free will or choice within that calling. I think that’s the amazing thing about the God we serve, that He uniquely calls each of us, my calling is not your calling, and within that, He gives us so much choice and leeway. When I use the word “called” it’s not because these people I love and serve are some sort of project forced upon me. I use the word “called” to define who God created me to be, and I have always found my “calling” to be coupled closely with desire. I believe that when God calls us to something, if we are seeking Him, He places within us both the deep desire and ability, through Him, to do that thing. And while that almost never means it’s going to be easy, it does mean that trying to ignore it, trying to pretend like it doesn’t exist, only leads to deep dissatisfaction within us.

Which leads me back to why I’m here today. As this month wraps up, I feel like I would be remiss in not acknowledging the significance of what God has done in our lives and our family through adoption. It has not been an easy journey. Sometimes, I’d say it has been downright hard and felt impossible. But it has changed and transformed me. It has sharpened and softened me. It has made me bolder and more outspoken than I ever dreamed, and it has created within me a compassion and empathy that I definitely did not have before. It has shown me the rough edges and glaring faults I failed to see in my own life, the beliefs I held so tightly that were not biblical (although I thought they were) and were in so many ways harmful. It’s caused me to see myself and those around me as God sees us, in a way I’m convinced I never would have had we not adopted. It has pointed me to my need for a Savior, my Savior, Jesus, day after day after day. It has not been a journey in which I’ve always felt complete peace. I think there is immense danger in letting the “feeling” of peace be our only guide because feelings, emotions, can lie to us, and there have been times, more than once, when the fear and anxiety have made me want to turn and run the other way. But as I’ve walked this path, I’ve known, in the deepest parts of my spirit, that I am exactly where God wants me to be. None of this is an accident, and in continually turning back to Him, His peace has surrounded me, in the midst of deep concern, anxiety, and even fear going forward.

As I’ve aged, the calling God has placed on my life has grown and shifted, but the One who calls me never does. And so, I try to do everything intentionally and with a purpose. And whatever God calls you to. . . maybe it is adoption or fostering or sponsoring . . . maybe it’s mission work . . . maybe it’s to clean house and cook for your family . . . maybe it’s getting up daily and heading into a job or a career where you’re meant to change the world one small decision and choice at time . . . maybe it’s all of the above . . . maybe it takes you in a totally different direction . . . whatever it, your calling, is at this moment, I encourage to pursue it wholeheartedly knowing that we serve a God who equips us. And as I, for real this time, take the rest of the holiday season off, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

Mark Batterson


It’s Thanksgiving morning here in the United States. In our part of the world, it’s a little rainy . . . a lot foggy . . . muggy and relatively warm after being cold for almost two weeks. I’ve been up for a couple hours while everyone else sleeps. And I’m sitting here thinking about thankfulness. Seems fitting for Thanksgiving now, doesn’t it? But the reality is, it seems like we try to relegate gratitude to one month out of the year. As if we can fit it all in to 30 days, and somehow, the rest of the year, we all too often find ourselves chasing all the things we think will make us happy, make our lives better . . . but gratitude can’t be put on shelf and dusted off for just a month or so each year . . . it’s where we need to live and dwell each and every day.

The truth is the past few weeks have been a bit on the rough side for my youngest. This time of year, her absolute favorite time of year, can be a double-edged sword, if you will. It’s a lot to take in. A lot to deal with. A lot of excitement and anticipation of so much fun. A lot of stress and busyness mixed in with that. Add to the standard holiday madness, my eldest’s crazy basketball schedule, and we’ve seen some behaviors emerge that we haven’t seen in a minute. Not to mention, on a personal note, that if I think too far ahead about all that’s on our calendar, I quickly become overwhelmed with all the things, all good and necessary things, happening over the next couple months.

So, as I sit here this morning with my bible and my coffee and my prayers, it’s easy to forget the gratitude and go straight to “fix it Jesus”. Because I know He’s the only one that can. He’s the only one that can truly heal the traumas and wounds of the past. He’s the only one that can mend broken hearts and set captives free. He’s the only one that can bring peace in the chaos of life. But I can’t just skip straight to the “fix it” part of my prayers. Because gratitude matters. Jesus isn’t just the Santa Claus for grown-ups, here to grant all our fantastical (and not so fantastical) Christmas wishes. Not that He doesn’t want to hear what we need and want. Not that He doesn’t desire to meet those needs. He does, but that’s only part of what He desires. He desires a relationship, communication, worship, and yes, gratitude. Gratitude is an integral part of our walk with Christ.

It can be so easy to focus on what’s lacking . . . what needs fixing . . . what’s not right. And this year, both on a personal level for many, and on a much larger scale for most, there is a lot that needs to be “fixed”. But there’s always always so much for which to be grateful. As I sit in the silence this morning, waiting for sleepy heads to emerge from bedrooms, and another Thanksgiving Day to kick off, I am thankful. Thankful for this moment of peace. Thankful for a Savior who loved and loves me enough to come to earth and live and die for me, but that also loves me enough to sit with me in these moments and walk with me through the hard and the beautiful of this life. Thankful for the fact that I can take anything to His feet, and He will “perfect that which concerneth me” (Psalm 138:8) because He is a God that understands our weaknesses and struggles and keeps His promises. Thankful for all the blessings in my life, both big and small, and thankful in the struggles because I know “He works all things together for good” (Romans 8:28) even when the circumstances themselves are far from good.

I pray that on this day, however it may look for you, and beyond . . . that this week, this month, this year and next, be filled with the knowledge of God’s goodness. That your heart be overflowing with gratitude that can only come from knowing my Jesus. Whether you’re facing a time of peace and plenty, or a time of storms and stress, or like most of us, you land somewhere in the middle, may you know how deeply loved, valued, and cherished you are by your Heavenly Father.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesians 3:14-21

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy . . . Merry . . . Sacred . . . Holy

I already have all my Christmas decorations up. I always put everything up early, but this year, due to everyone’s busy calendars and the timing of a minor surgery my husband had scheduled, plus the fact that it takes approximately 20 years to put everything up, we decided to decorate even earlier than usual. Cue all the comments about skipping Thanksgiving and going straight to Christmas.

The thing is, I love Thanksgiving . . . and I love Christmas . . . to me they’re inseparable. I love this time from November through December because it reminds me so much of what matters and what’s truly important in life. Rather than get bent out of shape because of all the things I see as wrong with the way the holidays, Thanksgiving through New Year’s, are celebrated, I choose to see all the good in it.

Is it too commercialized? Probably . . . yes . . . but also . . . no . . . I think you can embrace all the fun things . . . the lights . . . the decorations . . . the shopping and parties . . . Santa (yes, we do Santa or at least 25% of our family does ;)) . . . and keep your mind and heart focused on why we celebrate . . . because when I say “Jesus is the reason for the season” I’m not just being cliche . . . I mean it. I am deeply thankful because I serve a Savior, who is also God, who was willing to leave His heavenly home to live as a baby, a child, and ultimately, a man . . . who sacrificed His life in order that I might live forgiven and free here on earth and eternally with Him in Heaven. For that I am immensely grateful . . . and because of that, for me at least, there’s no way to truly uncouple the joy that is Thanksgiving and Christmas.

These are the holidays . . . literally the “holy days” . . . the spiritual and the everyday, mundane joined together . . . the quiet moments with Jesus in the dark morning hours with only the light of the Christmas trees and a warm cup of coffee . . . the prepping and preparing for family meals . . . the dressing up for parties and giving of gifts . . . the shopping and the movies . . . the reading of the account of the birth of Jesus from the book of Luke . . . the post turkey and pumpkin pie naps . . . the singing of Christmas carols . . . the beauty of the season . . . it’s all holy. It’s all a gift from our Heavenly Father.

With that, it’s once again time for a some sort of break . . . both here and on social media . . . it’s even earlier than usual this year . . . but it’s time to soak in these next eight weeks or so . . . to sit in the holy and the sacred of it all . . . the time with Jesus, yes, definitely and always, the time with Jesus . . . but also, the moments with family and friends . . . to step back from the busy, and with basketball season colliding with the holidays as it does, busy is an understatement . . . to slow down. We can say no to never saying no. We can stop ourselves from buying into the insanity and frenzy and the overspending and never stopping to breathe. I think sometimes we “go-go-go” and constantly pursue doing things and checking social media and being entertained because we’re terrified of the silence. We need to stop . . . to embrace being still and quiet and enjoy all these rapidly passing moments of everyday life. . . not just during the holidays but all year round.

I may pop in here and on social media from time to time. I’ll probably share pics here and there on Instagram, but I want to spend more time these next couple months leading up to yet another New Year living life in person rather than on a screen. I encourage you to do the same. Step back, rest, and delight in the good gifts that God has given you.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’ll leave you with the words from one of my all time favorite songs:


All my words fall short
I got nothing new
How could I express
All my gratitude?

I could sing these songs
As I often do
But every song must end
And You never do

So I throw up my hands
And praise You again and again
‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah
And I know it’s not much
But I’ve nothing else fit for a King
Except for a heart singing hallelujah

I’ve got one response
I’ve got just one move
With my arm stretched wide
I will worship You

So I throw up my hands
And praise You again and again
‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah
And I know it’s not much
But I’ve nothing else fit for a King
Except for a heart singing hallelujah

So come on, my soul
Oh, don’t you get shy on me
Lift up your song
‘Cause you’ve got a lion inside of those lungs
Get up and praise the Lord

Oh come on, my soul
Oh, don’t you get shy on me
Lift up your song
‘Cause you’ve got a lion inside of those lungs
Get up and praise the Lord

Come on, my soul
Oh, don’t you get shy on me
Lift up your song
‘Cause you’ve got a lion inside of those lungs
Get up and praise the Lord, hey

Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord

So I throw up my hands
Praise You again and again
‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah
And I know it’s not much
But I’ve nothing else fit for a King
Except for a heart singing hallelujah

Songwriters: Benjamin William Hastings, Brandon Lake, Dante Bowe

May these next couple of months be filled with gratitude and joy and the peace that only Jesus can bring.

Political or Biblical?

Well, the Astros did it . . . they won the World Series . . . and I am one happy gal. . . I’m also very thankful they did it at home, during game six, on the night we all got an extra hour of sleep. Because it was wearing me out.

But enough about sports . . . midterm elections are tomorrow . . . yep, I’m going there. Talk about a swing from fun to serious. I don’t have much stomach for politics or politicians so that’s not the point of this. I’m honestly ready for it to be over and am not looking forward to the madness of another presidential election.

Having said that, I always want to be sure that I’m totally transparent, and I think it’s important that people understand, as much as is possible via the internet, who I am and what I believe. How I vote and what I believe are informed, not by a political party, but by a very literal and traditional biblical world view. The word of God over politics every single time. Having said that, I also have cultural beliefs and personal convictions that determine how I vote on certain issues and topics, and sometimes those convictions and ideals can shift. The thing is, I think it’s so important to distinguish between biblical beliefs, which are the moral absolutes, and the personal convictions and culturally based stances and ideals. Because my biblical beliefs are my “lines in the sand”, non-negotiables that I believe God set out in His word for all of mankind to follow . . . and when I say “all” I mean “all”. There’s no changing my mind or getting me to view these from another perspective. These are not shifting in any way. That’s not to say that I believe that it’s okay to treat those who disagree unkindly. It’s most definitely not. But when I say biblical beliefs and moral absolutes vs personal convictions, I think personal convictions can and do vary from person to person. Some are my opinions and are influenced by my own history and upbringing. Some are because I believe God has led me to a certain position and/or choice to which I certainly don’t think He leads everyone, and I’d venture that they are ever evolving, shifting, and growing as I grow in my relationship with Christ. If you want to read more about my thoughts regarding the distinction between the two, you can read Moral Absolutes and Personal Convictions. However, I think, as Christians, when we get the two, the moral absolutes, the biblically based beliefs, and the personal convictions, confused, we do others and our witness for Jesus such a huge disservice.

A long time ago I wrote a post entitled Uncompromising Beliefs, and you are certainly free to go read it. But just in case you don’t want to bother with clicking over and wading through the other stuff to get to the point, I thought I’d share (i.e. copy and paste) a bit of what I wrote on that post here. These are not just my personal convictions but although I’m certain there are those who would say otherwise, because I believe that the bible is the inerrant word of God, are absolutes:

Starting point- because this is why I think how I think and believe how I believe. I believe in the Bible cover to cover. I believe that it is literal and God inspired and God breathed . . . both the harder parts and the easier parts to accept. And I cannot and will not compromise on that. These aren’t opinions to me. These are non-negotiables in my world.

And because of said “starting point”, I believe Jesus is the only way to God. Period.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” John 14:6.

I believe that Jesus loves everyone deeply and passionately and compassionately and completely, unconditionally. I believe that He sees people for who He created them to be and not who they are right now . . . I’m so thankful for that because I’m far from perfect.

I believe in the sanctity of life . . . I don’t just mean I’m anti-abortion. I am pro-life. I am pro-adoption. I am pro-helping and supporting and giving resources to parents that want to raise their children. And there are a million ways to support these causes, but screaming hellfire and brimstone to those who are making choices with which we don’t agree isn’t one of them.

I am pro-marriage . . . traditional marriage . . . between one man and one woman . . . for life. I believe in this because the Bible is clear on how God created us to live. I believe that God knows what’s best for us and loves us deeply. I believe there is forgiveness and grace and redemption for everyone at the foot of the cross. I believe that no matter what is in your past, God is here to redeem you. And I believe that we can live and walk out what we believe while still loving others deeply no matter where they are in life. Because again . . . hellfire and brimstone and pounding Jesus into people really doesn’t do the trick. (And as I’ve said before, there are times when you need to walk away from a marriage, after a lot of prayer and seeking God, because the marriage vows have been broken and cannot be repaired whether that be through emotional and/or physical abuse and manipulation, continued unrepentance and infidelity on the part of a spouse, abandonment . . . please seek help if you’re in this type of marriage.)

I believe that God created all people equal, and I believe that He created a myriad of beautiful skin colors (and hair colors and eye colors . . . ) because He is the God of beauty and creativity. I do believe we need to look at our hearts and our motives and our attitudes toward others and be one million percent certain that there isn’t even the hint of racism or prejudice there. There is nothing wrong with evaluating deep seated thought patterns that likely need to change. Rather than trying to deny or justify or argue, take it to Jesus. Ask Him to transform you because I promise, it’s not from Him.

I believe the church, Christians that profess to follow Jesus, need to look deeply at their own hearts. Because if we’re harboring hatred, unforgiveness, ugliness, bitterness, and anger . . . if we’re feeding on and perpetuating those things, then not only are we not a witness for Christ, but we are not following the Bible. We’re not walking out His word. We tend to give weight to sins here on earth. And while I’ll completely own that there are sins that are heinous and horrible and have larger, more destructive, consequences that hurt others deeply, I’ll also say, that allowing any of the things I listed above to simmer, unchecked, just below the surface, causes huge damage to ourselves and others as well. Maybe not the obvious, in your face kind of damage that we can call out, but if my actions, words, and behaviors push others from Jesus . . . and I’m not talking about speaking biblical truth set out by God here . . . then I’m doing more damage to the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of darkness.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭19‬-‭26‬ ‭

Of All the Things, I Wrote About Sports . . . I Know . . . I’m Shocked Too

Let me talk to you people about something . . .

Sports . . . Not a normal topic of conversation around these parts.

I am, as my family and friends will tell you, not an athlete. It’s not that I’m not in shape and don’t work out. I am (in shape), and I do (work out) because I think that it’s very important to take care of myself physically. But, while I have great endurance (that’s at least partially genetic), I’m neither particularly coordinated nor particularly fast (understatement of the century), and when it comes to team sports, exercise classes, or anything competitive, the anxiety level I experience is just stupid. My family and friends will also tell you that while not athletic, I am a somewhat intense and very competitive person, and I hate . . . HATE . . . losing. So, seeing as how I’m not coordinated and all that, I learned, early in my life, that the best way to avoid not winning in sports is to not participate or compete. Because you can’t lose if you don’t take the risk. Thank you for coming to my talk on how to avoid dealing with your issues. Maybe I should write a book. I’m sure it would be a best seller.

Back to the topic of the day. . .

The fact that my oldest both plays basketball and runs track, in addition to my personal issues with sports and tendency toward competitiveness, has led to the realization that I must work hard to keep myself in check because I am that parent. I am the parent that has the potential to completely lose it and become C.R.A.Z.Y. if massive amounts of self-control are not exerted. Lots of deep breathing is necessary especially during basketball season.

Due to the aforementioned issues, I don’t usually watch sports because the level to which I become personally invested is somewhat unhealthy. I follow basketball and baseball on the internet, and my 15-year-old is obsessed with basketball, so he makes sure I know all the things that are happening . . . when I say “all the things” I mean ALL THE THINGS . . . y’all it’s way more than I ever needed to know . . . EVER. I also have a vague idea of what’s happening in baseball thanks to “the Google” and my sister, who happens to be a rabid Astros fan. But because I take it personally when “my” teams lose, I avoid watching, at least until the playoffs, in order to maintain some degree of sanity.

Enter baseball . . . specifically enter Astros baseball and the World Series . . . I have a “no watching baseball” policy in my life because of all the sports it causes me the absolute most anxiety, and I’m convinced that the length of time it causes me to stress is not good for my health. I have neither the time nor the bandwidth to watch countless games each year. So, I only watch when and if the Astros make it into the World Series . . . which they have. And now, here I am, fully in it, and let me just tell y’all, it’s killing me slowly. I’m pretty certain that four games in, at least ten years have been shaved off my life (but I’m planning to live well past 100 so I’m still good). Not to mention the fact that level of sleep deprivation under which I’m currently operating is not helping anything. How do you people deal with an entire season of this? I can’t cope with four games.

Ultimately, there is no point to all this . . . I’m just tired, and I really hope (and pray . . . even though I don’t believe in praying for a specific team to win) that the Astros win this thing in six because I seriously don’t know if I can handle anything more (or less). And if you happen to overhear someone yelling super useful things from my house like “Just hit the dang ball!” and “Pay attention!” and my personal favorite “Get your head in the game” . . . I mean I’m sure none of this has occurred to them . . . just ignore it . . . maybe I should’ve been a coach . . . because nothing makes a great coach like a lot of anxiety mixed with highly impractical and unmotivational (not a real word) advice <insert eye roll here>.

Side note: Don’t even come at me with the cheating stuff. I’m not here for it.

Love Is . . .

Yesterday, Patrick said to me, “I cleaned out your sink drain so it wouldn’t drain slowly.” I have really long hair (for now anyway), and if you’ve ever had or lived with someone with long hair, you know that drains, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, get clogged. I’ll add, it’s gross. It makes me gag.

But here’s the thought that I had when he told me that. That’s what love looks like. We’ve been married over 19 years. Tomorrow will mark 24 years since we started dating. We were 17 (if you care to do the math) and young and stupid (no need to tell me not to say that . . . we were) and naive when we first met and started dating shortly thereafter. We weren’t close friends or besties first. We got to know one another while dating, but we dated for a long time before getting engaged. We were still young and somewhat stupid and maybe slightly less naive when we married at 22. We’ve grown and grown up together. We are very much different people, yet somehow still the same, as we were over 20 years ago.

Patrick still has a ridiculous sense of humor and is extroverted as all get out. Sometimes he makes me laugh hysterically. Sometimes he annoys the living daylights out of me, but he regularly pushes me out of my comfort zone. For that I’m grateful. He still procrastinates but then manages to get it all done and works harder than anyone I know. I’m pretty sure there’s not a day of the week he’s not working. He runs a business, works on our investment properties, teaches and is on the worship team at church, and provides for and leads us beyond well. He also, knows how to have fun and enjoy life.

I’m still over here struggling with OCD tendencies. Not to mention, I’m incredibly introverted. I still fight fear and obsessively worrying about things, but I’ve also learned to fight that on the front end. I’ve learned to pause, take a breath, and admit when something is making me anxious. I’ve learned, or am learning, excellence and doing things well are not the same as being perfect, and lowering my standards to be somewhat reasonable does not equal compromise. And maybe most importantly, I can sometimes let go and just have fun.

I think we’ve both learned that love for one another can look so many different ways. It can mean romance and flowers and dates. It can mean weekends away and fun trips to far off places. Romance, doing thoughtful and caring things for one another, should not be something we totally neglect. Those things do matter, and we make an effort to spend time together, away from the kids, away from the crazy, and to prioritize one another and our relationship because it is that important. But also, love is cleaning out the dumb, gross sink drain. It’s letting the other one sleep in while you get up and let the geriatric dog out long before the sun rises. It’s working together to figure out schedules when your fifteen-year-old is insanely busy and your nine-year-old is running a sky-high fever.

It’s all of those things and more. It’s not a Romcom or a romance novel. It’s way more than a feeling. Because there are times when you feel it, and times when you don’t. There are times when you’re dead tired and just doing good to get through the day. And there are times when you have all the good feels and you remember, yep, this is my person. Love is first an action, a verb, a commitment, and the feelings often follow.

We’re far from perfect. We have good days and days when we both need an attitude check. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we’re both hardheaded, stubborn, and strong willed, and God has really had to work some things out in both of us. I’ve had to learn, I’m still learning, to let Patrick lead our family . . . to not try to take control and take over. But thankfully, by the grace of God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we get better with each passing year. I wouldn’t want to live this wonderful, crazy life with anyone else.

A Martha Moment

4:00 a.m.

I know my alarm is going off in about an hour and a half.

I’m still beyond tired.

But my brain will. not. stop.

I try to pray but interrupt myself figuring out all the things I can do to fix all the things that need fixing.

I need to leave it at the feet of Jesus. I need to rest at the feet of Jesus, but I’m too busy having a Martha moment.

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

One . . . I get Martha. Martha is my people. I am Martha.

Two . . . I would’ve been so annoyed with Mary. I would’ve been grumbling and complaining about how Mary never helps with anything because she’s too busy worshipping Jesus. Does she think things just magically happen???

Three . . . I don’t think Jesus was just worried about Martha hustling around and doing stuff. Taking it back to the Greek, the word “distracted” means “drawn away”, and the word “serving” actually means “preparations” and “ministry”*. Martha was drawn away from Jesus because she was so busy with her ministry of the moment. That’ll preach y’all. How often do we let our ministry and serving, whatever those may be, no matter how good and Godly they are, get in the way of our relationship with our Savior? I think Jesus was far more concerned with Martha’s heart, with Martha’s need to be in control, to manage everything, than He was about her being physically busy. Because when you “get” Martha, you get that Martha was probably a perfectionist control freak. She thought that she was keeping everything under control by doing all the things. And, as we all know, that control is just an illusion. Jesus wasn’t just after Martha’s attention. He was after her heart. He wanted her to relinquish control and learn to trust Him.

Lying in bed at four in the morning, I may not be physically doing anything, but mentally I’m running a marathon. I’m handling it all. I’m maintaining control, or at least I think I am. I can keep on keeping on. I’m not just good at this, I excel at this. I can lose sleep in order to maintain the illusion of control. Or I can close my eyes and sit at the feet of Jesus and let Him handle it. And if and when there’s something that actually needs to be done, because yes, there is absolutely a time to get yourself moving, I have no doubt He’ll let me know.

* https://biblehub.com/lexicon/luke/10-40.htm