Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Because I am sitting next to him, and because it's Christmas, and because it's still true...

- originally posted March 22, 2010

Several years ago, my oldest son participated in a production of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol at Theatre Memphis. While Reuben learned the roles of the Sled Boy, Ignorance, a chimney sweep, and a street urchin, Big Sister and I volunteered to work as stage hands. If I'd known ahead of time what we were getting into, I think we'd have skipped auditions! Rehearsals began in October - we met five nights a week, for 3+ hours of practice. Once the play opened, performances were held every evening except Monday, with additional matinee performances on weekends. This exhausting schedule lasted from Thanksgiving weekend until just a few days before Christmas. I truly believe that, long before closing night, the entire cast and every one of the backstage workers could have recited the complete script from memory!

Tiring - absolutely. But also tremendous fun. And amazingly, the work never got boring. The frantic silent bustle backstage, dressing and undressing actors, readying props in the pitchblack wings. The wild diversity of personalities - Kevin, who showed up for rehearsal on Halloween dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, complete with ruby slippers (oh, yes); Anna, whose glow-in-the-dark tongue stud gave her a nearly blinding smile in the blackness that was "back stage"; the adult twins, Shawn and Kelley, who loved to pull surprises on stage to test other actors' ability to focus; Jim, the ghost of Christmas present, whose beautiful baritone and joy for life filled the theatre just months before he succumbed to throat cancer.

A dear friend and her family made a special trip to see A Christmas Carol that holiday season. Afterwards, Shannon commented the play had been great...but that when Reuben walked on stage, she had only been able to focus on him. The story, the music, the other characters faded to insignificance as he played his very minor parts. "All I could think was, That's MY Reuben! That's MY Reuben!" she laughed. "I was so proud of him, I wanted to stand up and tell everyone in the audience - LOOK! That's MY Reuben!"

Her experience got me to thinking. In the drama that is this life, that's how God looks at each of His children. I may stumble on stage, or say the wrong lines, or totally miss my cue. Shoot, I may even dive into the orchestra pit. But God looks at me through loving eyes and says, "That's MY Camille!"

Circumstances and our emotions sometimes conspire to deceive us, to make us believe that God groans at the mere thought of us, that we are to God nothing but a source of grief and constant frustration. But we do not have such a pathetic salvation as that, sisters and brothers. We are not saved to the extent that God is now able to barely tolerate us, to endure our existence without obliterating us with lightning bolts. We are saved completely, radically, eternally. We are HIS, and He loves and delights in us.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Weight of GloryThe promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, ...shall please God. To please be a real ingredient in the divine be loved by God, not merely pitied but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son - it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.

God loves me because I am His - not because I have mastered the "stage" of life. He delights in me like a father in a son/daughter. Almost too good to believe, isn't it? But so it is.

The morning after the visits from the ghosts...
Ebenezer Scrooge (leaning out the window): You, there! Boy! What's today?
Sled Boy: Today, Sir? Why, it's Christmas Day!

Thursday, December 22, 2016


A friend commented to me that she thinks people enjoy celebrating Christmas and the birth of baby Jesus so much because not only is it fun, but it is also safe: we are much more comfortable with a cooing baby than we are with Jesus as the Creator and Judge of the world.

We love the story of tiny baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger. But while celebrating his advent, we should also be mindful of who Jesus actually was and is, and of what Jesus came to do.

Jesus did not stay a baby.

In light of recent events in our own country and around the world, it is good to remember why Jesus was born and lived among us (Emmanuel - God with us!), and why he died and now lives to intercede for his people.

We are bombarded daily with news of terrorist attacks, school shootings, and hostage situations, and with reports of corruption in government, abuse of the law, gangs, drug abuse, sex trafficking, and missing and abused children.

We read about educational reforms that confound and frustrate teachers and undermine the authority and values of parents.

We are witnesses to a sexual revolution in this country that defies reason and mocks virtue.

We are told the problem is extremism, lax immigration standards, or easy access to firearms. Experts say we need stricter gun control laws, and schools need armed guards and police dogs. Our problems could be fixed with term limits, tolerance, rehabilitation, stricter obscenity laws, more governmnet oversight.

What we are not told - not on national TV, internet news feeds, Facebook, or talk radio - is that the problem is sin. Sin infects every single one of us, whether we shoot up a restaurant or sit quietly on our church pews every Sunday morning.

Our news sources do not tell us that greater than the offenses we commit against each other - murder, rape, kidnapping, abuse, licentiousness, willful ignorance, neglect, bigotry, outrageous foolishness - far greater than all these is the offense of our sin against the holy God who created and sustains us.

We rightly respond with outrage to the latest terrorist attack. But am I as outraged by my own defiance against God's holiness?

The truth is, the jihadist is dead to the things of God; he needs Jesus. The school shooter is not just depressed; he is broken, and he needs Jesus. The angry, out-of-control parent is not just overwhelmed by her circumstances; she is a sinner, and she needs Jesus. The church member who surfs internet porn sites late at night is not just having a weak moment; he is an offense to the holiness of God, and he needs Jesus.

We are all desperate, and we all need a radical salvation. We don't need a sweet little baby: we need a mighty Savior.

A baby in a manger, who grew up and lived a perfect life, the God-man, who died for and who now lives to intercede for sinners, sinners like the terrorist on TV, the Super Bowl pimp, the businessman addicted to porn, the out-of-control mom, the angry teenager, the gay lovers, and me.

No, this baby is not safe. But I invite you to come anyway, come to the manger and see!

[Originally published in the Union City Daily Messenger, December 23, 2015.]

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


I jumped out of bed this morning eager to get started on a busy day. My morning routine typically looks something like this:

Dress, brush teeth, etc. Pour myself a cup of coffee and sit down at the kitchen counter to read my Bible. Pray for my family and my church family and for the day ahead. Start a load of laundry. Check Todoist, email, and Facebook, then head out the door to morning exercise class at Caroline's in Troy...

This morning as I waited for Todoist to load on the computer, I realized that I had not prayed for the day ahead. I am a Type A person who loves to have a plan and who loves to make that plan happen. Life doesn't always go according to plan, however, so it is important for me to pause at the beginning of each day to remember that God's plan may not be the same as my plan and to pray that I will be open and obedient to his plan instead of insisting on mine.

I pray each morning for open hands: for God to place in my hands the things He wants me to do each day, and for him to enable me to willingly release from my hands those things I am tempted to grasp tightly but which are not his purpose for me that particular day.

So today as I waited for Todoist to load, I thought, "Ah! I forgot to pray for open hands today!" I took a minute to consider the many things I need to get done today, and I prayed that God would give me open palms and relaxed fingers for the day ahead. And then I thought how silly it was to think that a simple, rather ritualistic prayer was so important.

I checked email and Facebook, switched the clothes from the washer to the dryer, grabbed a water bottle and headed out the door to exercise class. That's when my Plan A for today began to unravel...

Short story - I didn't make it to class at Caroline's.

When I realized that I wasn't going to be able to drive to Troy, a wave of frustration rose inside me. That frustration was checked almost immediately, though, by this thought: "Oh! So this is one of those things You want to take out of my hand today! Yes, I need to let this go. What do you have for me to do instead?"

As I headed back inside - disappointed, but not angry or upset or derailed - I thought to myself: that silly little prayer for "open hands" is not so silly after all.

- originally published August 3, 2016

We all have more demands on our time each day than we can possibly hope to meet. I get out of bed each morning knowing that I am not going to get everything on my ToDo list checked off before I crawl back into to bed at the end of the day.

How can I choose wisely what to do today, and what to leave undone? And at the end of each day, how can I be free from worrying about all the things I didn't get around to?!

The Bible tells us in James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it [wisdom] will be given to him." Those are encouraging words for this oftentimes overwhelmed mom!

This verse tells me that God is the source of wisdom. It also assures me that God gives wisdom generously to those who ask for it, and that He doesn't reproach me when I acknowledge me need for his help. I can never ask God for wisdom too many times. I can never ask for too much. God is the source of all wisdom, and He is able and willing to meet my need.

So what does this have to do with my mile-long ToDo list?

One of the first things I pray each morning is for God to give me the wisdom to know what to do and what to leave undone. I ask him to help me choose wisely what things to make a priority. I also ask him for grace to let go of things I will not be able to accomplish.

As I pray, I picture an open hand, palm up. My prayer is for God to put into my open hand the tasks He wants me to work on, and for Him to remove from my hand those things that are not his will for me that day. I also pray that I will not be tight-fisted - that I will not insist on MY ToDo list while neglecting God's priorities for me.

This "open hand" prayer does not mean I accomplish everything on my ToDo list each day. However, it does mean that, trusting God's wisdom, I can climb into bed at night without suffocating under a mountain of guilt for the Undone.

This "open hand" prayer is something I have practiced for several months now. A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a new application for this prayer.

Sunday evening, a group gathered around the table had a rather animated and emotionally intense conversation concerning a topic about which we all held strong opinions. I left the table that evening feeling bruised and discouraged because I didn't think anyone else had listened to or seriously considered my thoughts on the subject. My input into the conversation had been ridiculed and then dismissed.

I climbed into bed with a heavy heart. "God," I prayed, "I want to be heard and listened to, but I have been ignored. I want my input to be respected and thoughtfully considered, but instead I have been dismissed." I was well on my way to a full-blown pity party when my morning-prayer image of the open hand popped into my mind.

I want to be heard, listened to, respected - these were things I was grasping tightly inside my balled fists. These were things I did not want to let go of, things I did not want to give up.

Then I considered my sweet Savior. He, of all people, should have been respected...but He was reviled. He, of all people, should have been listened to, but He was ignored. His opinions, of all opinions, should have been highly considered, but they were dismissed.

And He was content to be disrespected, ignored, dismissed...for my sake.

My "open hand" prayer took on a whole new meaning. "Lord," I prayed, "help me to release from my white-knuckle grasp those things which I think I deserve, those things I think I must have, but which You, in your wisdom, have withheld from me. Things like respect and thoughtful consideration. Let me instead graciously receive what you deem necessary for me at this moment, even if it is not what I would chose myself."

Amazingly, the prayer strategy that helped so much with my overwhelming ToDo list - that same prayer strategy transformed tears and emotional turmoil that Sunday evening into inner peace and assurance.

I will not check everything off my ToDo list today. That's okay. I may not be heard or valued or respected. That's okay, too.

I have given my ToDo list and my personal desires to God: He knows exactly how best to manage them.

Monday, December 19, 2016


One of the ironies of being the mom is that while you are busy with holiday shopping, cooking, caroling, and parties - in the midst of all the festivities - you also have to keep the laundry caught up, the toilets cleaned, and the cat fed. "Holiday" does not mean you get a day off work. It means you get to enjoy a few extra special things while you work.

I'm okay with that. It's part of the job.

You want to know something that really warms my heart, though? It's when others realize that while they are enjoying a break from school or work, Mom is still on the clock - and so they decided to use some of their "holiday" time to make Mom's job a little easier.

Ben cleaned upstairs and vacuumed the landing and the stairs on Saturday. No, I didn't ask him to, but I'm grateful that he did!

Helen and Ben stripped down all the beds this morning so that I could wash sheets. Now, all the beds are freshly remade and ready for holiday visitors.

Helen cooked dinner this evening so that I could use meal-prep time to work on a writing assignment.

The kids have been asking me lately, "What do you want for Christmas, Mom?"

I can't think of a better gift than their willingness to share my workload so that I can share their holiday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Prior to the recent presidential election, a group of Christians was having a passionate discussion about the dilemma they faced in determining for whom they would vote. Some felt that to vote for either major party candidate would be a violation of their consciences and of their Christian principles. Others felt that to not vote for a major party candidate was to essentially "throw away" their votes.

At one point in the discussion, one of those gathered around the table said something to the effect, "Well, you can talk about your faith and voting your conscience and the kingdom of God and all that, but the bottom line is, this is the real world we're living in. And in the real world, you only have one option of who to vote for."

In response to this comment, a young man at the table replied with calm clarity, "There is nothing in this world more 'real' than the kingdom of God."

It is easy in the noise and the busy-ness and the complicated decisions and the messy situations we encounter in this life to forget that Jesus in not just someone we pray to at the end of the day, or our Sunday-morning solace, or a figurine in our Christmas nativity decoration. Even for Christians, it is easy to forget that Jesus is reigning and ruling, right here, right now, really and truly.

When God tells me in Scripture that He will supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19) - all my physical needs, my relational needs, my spiritual needs, all of my needs - He is not speaking hypothetically or talking pie-in-the-sky-someday. He means He will meet all of my needs, right here, right now, for real.

When God tells me in Scripture that He works all things - all things - for my good and for his glory (Romans 8:28), He is not speaking hypothetically or talking about some later date or far off place. He is talking about right here, right now.

Does this mean God promises me health, wealth, and prosperity in this life? Does this mean He promises that all my children will grow into wise and godly adults? Does this mean God promises my marriage will always be characterized by integrity, intimacy, and sweetness? Does this mean He promises I will never have to suffer humiliation, hardship, abuse, or persecution?

No, No, No, and No.

Rather, what Scripture teaches me is that God - and God's assessment of my true needs and my true ultimate good - is the most real, the most true, even more real than my own mixed-up perceptions of things. God's reality is not hypothetical. It is not purely spiritual or mental. God's reality is also physical, relational, and practical.

What do I need today? A new pair of shoes? A good diagnosis? A faithful lover? A career change?

This life is a mist, a vapor! How, in this swirling fog, can I even begin to see what is truly needful?!

God sees. God reigns and rules and moves and works in the real of world. God knows exactly what I need, and He has promised to meet that need. Right here, right now.

Oh, for eyes to see and faith to trust God's power and his good purposes in my life! Oh, for a heart that truly understands that nothing, nothing, nothing is more real than the kingdom of God!

Friday, December 9, 2016


I am going to tell you a sad story.

When my oldest was a toddler and I was pregnant with baby number two, Steve and I attended a very large, wealthy church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Steve was a student at UT, and I was a stay-at-home mom. We were very poor, and we lived in ancient, white cinder-block married-student housing that has since been bulldozed.

Steve and I were not like the other people who attended that church, the doctors and lawyers and politicians and university professors. We were misfits, but we attended that church anyway because the teaching from the pulpit was excellent.

We were misfits, but we attended that church anyway because, although our pokey Cavalier station wagon stood out like a sore thumb among the Mercedes and BMWs and Jaguars in the church parking lot, we knew we were part of the body of Christ and that we had significant things in common with these other church members whose lives were so different from our own.

I had an appointment for a prenatal checkup and I needed a babysitter for my toddler. I called one of the moms in my Sunday school class and asked if she could recommend someone. This mom gave me the name of a teenager who attended the church and suggested I call her.

The recommended teen would not babysit my toddler because she did not know me personally (understandable, in these dark times). So, I asked her if she could recommend someone else. She did. I called the next person. This teen would not babysit anyone in campus married housing - she didn't think it was safe. But she recommended someone else, and I called the next number. The same thing happened.

Because I have a perverse streak, I persevered...through over 20 "No, I'm sorry, I can't help you"-s. I talked to teenagers and to their parents. I called other mothers and solicited them for help. The answer was always, "No. I can't/won't help you." I eventually gave up. I never did find a babysitter.

These were all fellow Christians, fellow members of the same church that I attended faithfully. None of them - not one - was willing to help me. That experience broke my heart. I ended the afternoon in tears.

When you experience that level of rejection from the very people who have verbally committed to be in covenantal relationship with you, the brokenness you experience is more than skin deep. You don't "just get over it." Yes, we continued to attend that church, but I no longer felt like I had very much of significance in common with the other people there. I had originally assumed we shared a gospel connection, that these people loved me in spite of my circumstances. The afternoon of 20+ No-s taught me something different.

In his article 12 Reasons Millennials are OVER Church, Sam Eaton writes, "Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck...We’re looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don’t have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch (with the ecstasy of donuts and sweatpants)?"

I am not a millennial - too old - but Eaton's words resonate with me.

When the very people I trust to care about and for me are dismissive of my concerns or needs, when they betray or belittle me, when they respond to my hurts with "just get over it" or "it's not my problem - deal with it yourself," something breaks deep inside of me.

Christ is sufficient to meet all my needs, including my need for meaningful relationship.

Yes, He is. I know this, because He has been faithful when others have not. He has been near when others have been distant. He has been attentive when others have been dismissive. He has been tender when others have been unkind. He has been selfless when others have been self-absorbed. He has been fearless when others have been cowards.

Christ is sufficient.

But, shame on the one who claims the name of Christ and willfully refuses to love as Christ loves.

God, help me to love like Christ. When I am weary, help me to be faithful. When I am busy or inconvenienced, help me to be available. When I am unsympathetic, give me a heart of compassion. When I am afraid, give me courage.

When I am reluctant to love others, help me to see in them opportunities to love Jesus, the One who has loved me so very well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016



A word used as a Jewish greeting and farewell, typically translated to mean peace.

But shalom implies so much more.

I once heard a theologian define shalom this way: "Shalom means all is as it should be." He went on to describe shalom as a kind of integrity: things are what they appear to be. No deception, no duplicity, no confusion. On an individual level, shalom-ness is integrity of person - it is being the same inside and out, in our thoughts and in our practice, in private and in public.

We are all works in progress. I am not today the same person that I was a year ago. And a year from now, I will be different from the person I am today.

We are all works in progress. I understand that. And yet, I find it very difficult to understand and relate to another who seems frenetically changeable, someone who says one thing this morning and something quite contrary this afternoon, a person who behaves one way in company and a completely different way in private, someone who in a single conversation presumes to maintain and defend completely contrary philosophies.

It makes me feel like Alice, trying to have a serious conversation with the Cheshire Cat. Or like the Psalmist, dismayed by those who say "Peace, peace," when there is no peace. I am confused. I don't know how to engage. Is this Person A today, or Person B?

We are all works in progress. I understand that. And I am thankful - so incredibly thankful - for the assurance in Scripture that Jesus - Jesus himself! - is my peace, my shalom. Where there is duality of character or a conflict of values or motives within, Jesus man, a unified person of integrity. Someone who is the same inside and out, in private and in public, in thought and in deed.

A new creation, in whom there is no deception, no duplicity, no confusion.

One day, I will be a person of whom it can be truly said, "All is as it should be."

And he [Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. - Ephesians 2:17

Friday, December 2, 2016


"I do not at all feel like I have chosen an inferior career path. I don't understand why some people feel that way about motherhood." She kissed the newborn in her arms.

We welcomed a new baby into the family last week.

It is interesting, viewing motherhood from one step back, as a grandmother instead of as a new mother. While I pulled Grandma duty in the days just before and just after baby's arrival, a couple of things stood out to me... 

Motherhood requires incredible strength and stamina - physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

As I watched my hugely pregnant daughter care for her husband, her two-year-old and her home, I was amazed by her strength. A restless night of labor, a sleepless night with a newborn, another sleepless night...with constant demands on her body and her emotions...and yet she persevered with a patience and steadiness that astounded me.

Instead of complaining, "I am so tired!" (which she was) - she instead exclaimed, "I love my sweet babies so much!"

Motherhood requires incredible sacrifice.

Yes, my daughter has personal dreams. Some of these have been put on hold, possibly forever, while she focuses her time and energy on the tremendous task she and her husband have of raising their family.

Life, interrupted. Is that what motherhood is?


It is life. It is living this day, this moment in communion with the divine, in the company of eternal souls that try the limits of your understanding and your faith and your endurance.

We welcomed a new baby into the family last week.

WE welcomed a new baby into the family last week.

We welcomed a new baby into the FAMILY last week.

Motherhood is about community. It is about the WE and the FAMILY, instead of about the I and the ME.

Motherhood takes a woman out of the narrow confines of her own skin and stretches her soul, her heart, her energy, her dreams...

infuses all these parts of her mother self into the selves of others, who grow up into unique people, very different from herself, and who in turn begin the cycle anew and, by doing so, disperse her mother heart even further, into yet another generation...

so that the teeny-tiny spot one mother occupies on this planet (where she lives, her job, her aspirations, her disappointments, her personal preferences), this teeny-tiny little spot can no longer contain her because she has been so greatly expanded, through space and time, sometimes quite literally around the globe.

* * *

"I do not at all feel like I have chosen an inferior career path. I don't understand why some people feel that way about motherhood."

Why, indeed. Today, as I celebrate this newest addition to the family, my heart breaks for young mothers who are frustrated, disappointed, and depressed because they feel "trapped," the moms who feel like they have given up so much in return for so little, the mothers who have not yet understood the greatness of their calling.

Oh, for eyes to see!

Friday, November 25, 2016


We are waiting for a baby. Baby's due date is TODAY!

My third child arrived two weeks after his due date. We lived those two weeks on the other side of a wormhole in a dimension where time moved at the speed of dirt.

There is no way to communicate how much the words "Are you having another contraction yet?" irritated me. My nerves were flailed raw by wave after wave of late-pregnancy hormones, all of my bones ached, acid reflux burned my esophagus after every meal, and deep, restful sleep was a fuzzy memory from the far distant past.

All the signs indicate this new baby may arrive TODAY!

I have been saying that - "Looks like it could be today!" - for two weeks now. Every time I've thought that or said it, I have meant it. I still mean it.

Mom is resting now. Big sister is taking a nap. Dad is catching up on some chores around the farm. The laundry is caught up and the kitchen is tidied, and Grandma is sitting here wondering...

How on earth does a person do the middle of life?

For a brief stretch of time - a day, a week, two weeks - all of life shifts into a slow-motion orbit centered on one particular, who-knows-exactly-when event. A quick run to the grocery store, a walk on the farm, starting a load of laundry, a pan of bread in the oven...every ordinary, this-is-just-life-as-usual activities swing on the thread of one simple question: "Is it time?!"

It's not time yet, or I wouldn't be sitting here typing. Not right this moment, but maybe - very possibly - an hour from now, or two hours, or two days, or a week.

And when, finally, the answer to "Is it time?!" becomes an emphatic "Yes! Now!" -  everything else STOPS. When the answer is "Now!", who gives a frog's tooth about clean laundry or dirty dishes in the sink?!

This is life lived very much in the moment, with eyes wide open toward the near future. "Is it time now?"

I can't help but wonder...

This living life in such an urgent, focused pause, this place of such deliberate action and such intense anticipation - "Is it time?!" - is this not where we all live, or where we all should live, every day, between Christ's ascension and his return?
* * *
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye... - 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


I am sitting here trying to think of something to write, when the cat begins meowing frantically at the front door.

Is Kitty injured? Is she frightened? I hop up and dash to the door.

Kitty has brought me a very small, very dead mouse. She lays her gift gently on the door mat at my feet. Lovely.

"What a beautiful little mouse. You are such a wonderful hunter!" I praise the kitty, then close the door.

The emphatic meowing begins again.

I open the door. "What?"

What, indeed. Kitty wants to come inside, and she wants to bring her treasure with her. I am perfectly fine with Kitty coming in out of the cold for the night, but the mouse is a No-Go.

A stare-down commences. I open the door a bit wider. Kitty steps forward, then reaches down to pick up the mouse in her teeth.

"No mouse!" I close the door slightly. Kitty drops the mouse and sits back. I open the door wider. Kitty steps forward again, then pauses to retrieve her trophy. This continues until I am cold and bored. "You are not coming in the house with that mouse!" I close the door until the latch click!s and return to my seat at the computer.

The meowing stops. I guess Kitty got the message.

I sit here staring at a blank screen for several minutes. My brain is tired. It idles in neutral, refusing to engage the gears.

* * * * *

"Meow! Meow! Meow!" The earnest meowing resumes.

I cross the room to the front door, exhaling a sigh of frustration. What does Kitty want now?!

I open the door. Kitty sits like a dainty princess on the sisal door mat. There is no tiny brown mouse. Kitty looks up at me and winks her eyes. Kitty stands, and with stately dignity, she steps inside.

I swear she is smiling.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. - 1 John 5:1-2

If I believe that Jesus is the Christ (and I do), then I have been born of God. If I love God (and I do!), then I love whoever else has been born of him.

What does that love for fellow believers look like? It looks like this: I love God and obey his commandments.

Personally, I tend to make relationships and loving others so convoluted. How? By demonstrating a fear-fueled lack of personal and relational integrity. By loving the relationship more than I love my heavenly Father. By neglecting the command to "...let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil" (Ephesians 4:25-26).

Relationships - even between believers - are messy this side of Glory. Inevitably, we disappoint and hurt one another. When that happens - the messiness of relating - I tend to downplay the situation.

"It's no big deal," I tell myself. "This relationship is too important to risk it by making a big issue out of little things."

"This is not a good time to talk," I tell myself. "Everything will blow over with time."

"The other person...they don't really care what I think anyway," I tell myself. "If I try to talk to them about this problem, they'll just get mad and defensive. They won't really listen to what I say."

I tell myself all these things instead of doing the uncomfortable work of exposing myself to another and admitting my hurts, instead of confronting the person whose friendship I value.

This morning, in the midst of all kinds of relationship mess that I would truly rather downplay or ignore, I read the above passage in 1 John. Then, in case I missed what God was saying in 1 John, a friend shared a link on Facebook to an article by Allison Fallon, "Why you have so many acquaintances and but not many friends."

After describing me and my relational trepidation to a T in the first third of her article, Allison writes:

There's an epidemic of loneliness in our culture and I think our unwillingness to be honest is causing it.

So what's the answer?

I don't think the answer is to take a guns-blazing, honesty-at-all-costs approach, because I've seen this blow up for people and leave them just as frustrated and alone.

I do think the answer is to get really good at being honest and vulnerable.

It doesn't take much to say, "you can be a real jerk sometimes." But it takes courage and resilience to say, "when you said that to me, it made me feel insignificant and small."

(You really should take a minute to check out Allison's entire article HERE. It is short and worth your time.)

Honesty and vulnerability.

Courage and resilience.

Love and obedience.

And so I come full circle, back to the cross, back to where Jesus, on my behalf, exhibited honesty and vulnerability, courage and resilience, perfect love and perfect obedience.

I want to love like that.

I want to be that kind of friend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


I occasionally have someone say to me something like this: "You talk about the importance of reading Scripture and about the relevance of Scripture to daily life. But how do I find the specific passages in Scripture that address the particular struggles I am facing today?"

We want a tabbed index or a search engine. If I enter "My dog just threw up on Samantha's new prom dress. What should I do?" and then hit the little search icon, I am immediately linked to a book, chapter, and verse that tells me, "Apologize and offer to replace the dress."

But Scripture doesn't work like that.

How, then, can I find the verses that speak to the unique challenges I am facing today? How do I know where to look to find answers for my deepest heart questions?

All I can say is: Read the Book!

Last Thursday morning, I woke up feeling hopeless. I was tired of struggling to pursue holiness, and yet seeing so little tangible fruit. I was discouraged by the dry, dead, lifelessness of my own heart and the dry, dead, lifeless response of another with whom I desire meaningful relationship. I lay in bed praying, "God, there is no strength left in me. I feel so dried up and dead. I have no will or breath to continue."

Then, BAM!, God spoke to me and told me that if I would look on page 1191 of the Reformation Study Bible, I would find 10 Easy Steps to Personal Holiness and Relationship Restoration.


Actually, I crawled out of bed, got dressed, hit "brew" on the coffee maker, and sat down to read the next passage in my daily Bible reading plan. Let's see . . . time for Ezekiel 37-39 and the little book of Jude.

And I read . . .

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones...and they were very dry. And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord God, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD . . . Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live . . . and you shall know that I am the LORD." (from Ezekiel 37:1-8)

I continued reading through my tears. This section of Ezekiel 37 concludes:

Then he [the Lord] said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people . . . and I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD." (Ezekiel 37:11-14)

People, could God have spoken any more precisely to the cry of my heart earlier that morning?!

Here's the weird thing: I am following a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan a friend shared with me last December. It is not my "usual" reading plan, not the one I used previous years.

Also, when I say I "follow" a reading plan, I am using the term very loosely. Life happens and, often, when it does, life is crazy. I read ahead; I get behind; I progress through a reading plan like a Slinky lunging haphazardly down stairs.

Last Thursday, November 10th, I read the assigned passage for Sunday, November 27th.

God had me exactly where he needed me to be in his Word in order to speak directly to the cry of my heart last Thursday morning. He is that good at hearing and speaking to his children.

So, once again . . .

How do you find the specific passages in Scripture that speak to the particular struggles you are facing today?

Read the Book.

Friday, November 11, 2016


The Chicken and I rolled up the driveway to the house at half past midnight last night/this morning after a long, full day of livestock judging with Obion County 4-H-ers. We had a blast yesterday, but I am scrambling this morning to catch up on a couple of writing assignments. My head is fuzzy and the words are coming slowly - this seems like an appropriate morning to share a repost!

I am grateful for the pause at the beginning of each day, when I can sit down with my Beloved...

- originally posted Friday, October 19, 2012

Nate and Tom headed down the driveway at 6:50 this morning.  Steve followed ten minutes later.  As I washed the dishes from "early breakfast," it occurred to me that since we had all been up very late last night, the "late breakfast" crew would probably come dragging downstairs even later than usual.  Excited, I rushed to finish washing the dishes and to switch the first load of laundry over to the dryer, anticipating perhaps as much as an entire hour of uninterrupted calm.  My Beloved's hand was on the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me! (Song of Solomon 5:4)

Some mornings - too many mornings - life is crazy busy from the get-go.  The day gets all on top of me almost before my feet hit the floor.  As I rush from breakfast to school books, dentist appointments to piano lessons, a longing tugs at my heart - a yearning for my Beloved because I missed Him at the door.

The house I grew up in sat at the end of a long gravel driveway, way out in the country.  No one drove down that driveway unless they lived at our house or they were someone coming expressly to see a member of my family.  I can still remember the sensation caused by the crunch of tires on gravel - heads turned, ears strained.  One person might peer out the front window, while another bounded to the door.  Crunching gravel meant: Visitors!  Company!  And that was always a big exciting deal, way out there in the country.

When Steve and I were dating, way back about a hundred years ago, I think my ears could hear the very first stone shift when that redheaded boy turned his Dodge Colt off the paved road onto our driveway.  Talk about a sudden thrill of excitement...My heart raced, my cheeks flushed, and you did not want to be the unfortunate person to stand between me and the front door!

I didn't feel quite so excited about Jesus way back then, but, well, I didn't know Him very well then, either.  But in spite of my initial coolness, in spite of my distraction with a bazillion other things, in spite of my clouded eyes and divided heart, Jesus persistently and gently pursued me over the years, like a devoted and faithful Lover.  And, oh, how beautiful He has become!  How exciting the thought that He wants to visit with me - today, this morning!

Maybe now you understand my excitement as I stood at the sink this morning and suddenly realized, "An hour!  Together, uninterrupted!"  It was like hearing that first crunch of gravel...the thrill of excitement, the increase in heart rate.  How precious the gift of an hour alone with my Beloved, before the demands of the day set in!

Yes, I raced to answer the door.          

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Jamie worked night shift stocking shelves at the local discount store where I worked evenings as a cashier. One night sometime around 11:30, Jamie walked up to the front of the store to where I stood at the one lonely express register still open.

Jamie was pale. He was bent over, holding his thigh between his two hands as he walked.

"Jamie," I asked, "are you okay?"

He stopped, swayed, and looked over at me. That was when I saw the trail of blood leading back toward the grocery aisles.  "Call an ambulance," he whispered.

My heart leapt into my throat. I picked up the register phone. "CALL AN AMBULANCE! WE NEED A MANAGER UP FRONT IMMEDIATELY!" I shouted.

Minutes later, Jamie and the store manager were on their way to the emergency room. A crew began cleaning up the trail of blood that ran from the front door to the dry goods aisle where Jamie had buried the blade of a box cutter in his thigh.

We learned before the night was out that the razor-sharp blade had narrowly missed the artery in Jamie's leg. If he had not had the presence of mind to hold the wound close and apply pressure, the artery would most likely have ruptured before he reached the front of the store. If he and the few employees still at the store hadn't recognized the seriousness of his injury and acted quickly, Jamie could have very well bled to death that night.

I have had a dislike of box cutters ever since.

Recently, when I was in a moment of great distress and heartache, someone responded to my brokenness with, "Awww, darling, you just need a hug."

I was too stunned to reply. Like Jamie on the night he stabbed his thigh, I was pale and weak.

Jamie didn't need a hug: he needed emergency medical assistance.

I did not just need a hug: I needed an infusion of the resurrection power of Jesus. Thankfully, keener eyes rightly assessed the situation, and I was not left to bleed to death.

(To patronize someone means to treat them coolly, or with an air of condescension. It means to speak to another with an air of moral or intellectual superiority, to speak down to them, to dismiss them. Please, don't patronize me. Honestly, even if I'm bleeding, I'd prefer you insult me outright.)

* * *

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," - [or, "Awww, you just need a hug"] - without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. - James 2:14-16

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


"Do you believe that God is sovereign?" my daughter asked as she noted my white-knuckle grip on the door handle, my feet pushed hard against the floorboard.

I narrowed my eyes. "Yes, you know I do."

"Then what do you have to be afraid of?"

The above conversation was repeated more than a few times as I rode shotgun when my youngest was learning to drive. I explained to her that I was not afraid of dying. Nope, not at all. Faced that fear years ago while lying in a hospital bed.

No, I was afraid of almost dying. Afraid of being pulled from a tangle of twisted steel, mangled beyond repair, and having to face who-knows-how-many-years of excruciating pain between this life and the next.

Still, she had a point.

Momentary flashes of spontaneous terror and the I-hate-spiders heebie-jeebies aside, if I truly believe that God is sovereign - and that He is good, and that He loves me very much - which, indeed, He is and He does - of what should I rightly be afraid?

Should I live in a state of fear about...
  • My safety on the road?
  • How I will be provided for in my old age?
  • The increasingly anti-Christian culture in which we live?
  • The outcome of this year's election?
  • The spread of terrorism?
Should I fear...
  • Challenges to my faith?
  • Questions about doctrine?
  • Those who disagree with me or who belittle or ridicule my faith?
  • Those who harbor evil intent against me?
 Should I be afraid because...
  • My faith is often weak?
  • My vocabulary is too small?
  • My resume is not impressive?
  • I am not charismatic or articulate?

Seriously, I am asking you a question. I am asking YOU a question! I want your feedback. Please, comment below or reply on Facebook with your answer: As a Christian, when/of what and/or of whom should I rightly be afraid?

* * * * *

Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee - it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee - it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument - it is Christ's blood and merits; therefore, look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down. - C.H. Spurgeon

Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you...It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear of be dismayed. - Deuteronomy 31:6, 8

Friday, October 28, 2016


My mom used to say that spring and fall in Northwest Tennessee were the "in-between" seasons when the weather pinged back and forth between summer (hot) and winter (cold), until it finally decided to stick with one or the other. Earlier this week, we woke to patchy frost and we scrambled to find long sleeves and sweaters to wear. Today, we are peeling off the layers, back down to shorts and tank tops. Next week? The weatherman will probably be forecasting high temperatures in the 90s, with scattered snow flurries.

Gotta love life in Northwest Tennessee!

But on a more serious note...

We have started a marriage study/class at Grace on Sunday evenings. We are using Paul Tripp's book What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage as the foundation for our study, along with a weekly video presentation featuring Mr. Tripp himself. He is a fantastic speaker. He keeps us alternating between rib-cracking laughter and the kind of painful silence that results when your heart is squished so hard that it hurts for you to breathe.

We are only a few weeks into the study, and Mr. Tripp hasn't gotten to the Big Point of marriage, yet - I think he's getting there soon (maybe next week?), but I haven't read ahead in the book. At this point in the study, I'm not sure how it will compare to my all-time favorite book on marriage, Gary Thomas's Sacred Marriage.

One frustration I have with the study guide is that it assumes couples will go home and have serious, intimate conversations about the material covered each week. If your marriage isn't characterized by serious, intimate conversations, the homework assignment can be a bit of a downer. And what about those "couples" in the class where only one spouse participates? What if you see the benefit of a how-to-strengthen-your-marriage class, but your spouse cannot or will not attend with you?

Is there any encouragement for these people?

I think there is very great encouragement, and I am hoping Mr. Tripp will get to that soon, before some of our "lonely" class participants throw in the towel. Following are a few truths that have encouraged and strengthened me during some very lonely times over the years:

1. All marriages, even unhappy ones, have value. They have value because God himself established the institution of marriage, and because marriage displays to us and to the world around us important truths about God. Truths such as: God is a covenant maker; God is a covenant keeper; God is faithful even when we are not. Marriage is the stage where these truths are acted out in the drama of life.

2. Even if you are not happy in your marriage right now, God can use your marriage to grow you in holiness. A friend once described family to me as the crucible where our sin is exposed and burned away. If that is true, then within the family, marriage is where we feel the flame of God's refining fire at its hottest. Fire burns: growing in holiness is painful. But even in the most painful times, we can be confident that God is accomplishing his good purposes in us and that He is making us more like Christ.

3. Commitment to your marriage is an evidence of the gospel at work in your life. Years later, another friend made this statement: "The fact that you persevere through difficult times is a testimony to the power of the gospel." The truth is, we all have moments when we feel like giving up. It is only by the grace of God that any of us are able to persevere.

We may be tempted to think of "gospel witness" in terms of street-corner evangelism, social programs, or relief ministries. But commitment to our marriages, come hell or high water, is a powerful, silent witness to the power of God's grace and to the effective, life-transforming influence of the gospel in our lives.

4. Still not happy? You will be! The same friend mentioned in #3 (above) also said: "You need to get over the idea that marriage is all about your personal happiness. Stop thinking that life is all about your being happy right here, right now. After you die, you are going to be happy forever. FOREVER. In the meantime, what you need to focus on are obedience and holiness."

People, this life is short. Even if I live to be 90 years old, and even if every single day is filled with nothing but pain and heartache (which it isn't - there is so much joy and delight, even in the midst of much hardship!), all those years of pain and heartache will be redeemed and transformed into something glorious the moment I step into an eternity lived in the presence of my God and Savior.

I am often tempted to think that marriage is all about me and my happiness. The truth, however, is that while I do have a part to play in this story, marriage is ultimately about God.

And guess what? This story truly does end...

"They lived happily ever after."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


A friend told me that whales can communicate with one another over distances of up to 1000 miles. When I asked him what the whales communicated over such a great distance, he answered, "Scientists aren't really sure, but they think the whales are saying, Can you hear me NOW?"

I love words. I love to read, and I love to write. I love to listen to what others have to say, and, yes, I love to talk (It's a Stricklin thing.) But communication is about more than simply reading or writing or hearing or speaking words. It is a two-way process where at least two of those things happen simultaneously. Communication is an interaction between a writer and a reader, between a speaker and a listener, between a performer and an audience.

Communication is tricky business. A person can say one thing, but actually communicate something very different from what he intends. A person can hear one thing, but actually understand something very different from what the speaker said.

I have a friend who frequently tells me that I have a knack for understanding words and for putting into words what I or others are trying to express. And yet often, when my friend tries to communicate something meaningful to me, if I respond with, "Oh, so you are saying such-and-such...," he replies, "No! You are completely misunderstanding me!"

Communication is tricky business.

In Sunday school this past week, Deon began the class by asking us, "What things do you get passionate about? How do you generally express that passion?"

At home Sunday afternoon, I commented that a better question might be to ask other people, especially those who know us well, "What things do you think I am passionate about?" Why? Because like Walter Mitty, we can perceive ourselves to be one way, living in strange little worlds inside our heads, while communicating something very different to the people around us through our words, our actions, and our lives.

I know what I think I am passionate about, but have I effectively communicated that passion to those who know me best? That is the question that Deon's Sunday school lesson triggered in my mind!

The kids were gathered in the kitchen, helping me get Sunday lunch on the table. I had to ask, although, honestly, I was afraid of the answer. I was afraid because the things I am most passionate about - the things I think I am most passionate about - they are so important to me that it would grieve me to learn that I had not communicated that passion effectively, especially to my family. "What things do you think I am passionate about?"

"You, Mom? That's easy. You are passionate about Jesus..."

"...and about the Bible..."

"...and you are passionate about your kids..."

"...and you are passionate about writing..."

Yes! Yes, yes, yes!

I don't always communicate clearly to others. I don't always understand what others are trying to communicate to me, either. Thankfully, concerning the things about which I feel most passionately, the message seems to have come through loud and clear.

What about you, Dear Reader? What things are you passionate about? If you asked those who know you best, what things would they say you were passionate about?

Thursday, October 20, 2016


- originally posted Monday, October 24, 2011

Underlying the monumental endeavor of rearing and schooling a house full of kids, there exists a constant tension. As a mom, I want to push my children to do their best, but I don't want to be overbearing. I want them to strive for excellence...but don't want them to be enslaved by perfectionism. Structure to our day and to our activities is essential...but I must not be obsessively bound to a calendar or a clock. I want to respect their personalities...but I don't want to cater to their personal sins. Add to all of this the struggles I have with my own sinfulness, my own wrong attitudes and motives.

Always, in the back of my mind, there is the question, "Am I doing what's best? Am I asking too little of my children, or am I asking too much?" This question is a thin blanket over the fear that all my prayers and good intentions and hard choices and personal sacrifices and lifelong labor are working not to build up my children and encourage them on the path to godly adulthood, but rather are warping and twisting them into self-absorbed, perverse, angry malcontents who know nothing of the holiness, grace, and mercy of God.

There are good days and bad days in this mothering journey.

What makes a particular day "good" or "bad"? Maybe it's just that today is gray and cold, whereas yesterday was warm and sunny. Maybe it's the anticipation of a fun weekend ahead, or the emotional come-down after a holiday. Maybe it's a particular day in my monthly cycle. Maybe it's that we all are well-rested and well-fed...or exhausted and due for some comfort food. Maybe it's unresolved issues with my husband, or undesirable influences of my neighbor.

So today is a bad day. Oh, we got all our schoolwork done. The laundry is caught up. Dinner is in the oven. I even got to go for a walk back on the farm - but I spent most of it crying, wondering what on earth I'm doing, and why am I doing this, and did I just totally misunderstand what I thought was God's direction in my life so many years back, and am I just screwing up all the people I love most? Praying, God help me! Make something clear! Show me what You want, and help me to obey!

What's to be done with the bad days? With the heavy emotions?

Before starting supper, I checked Facebook. A dear sister had posted this quote from Lydia Brownback as her status: "Real prayer includes letting go of your insistence on a particular answer or timing. If you have really prayed, you can simply rest and wait for God. Trust Him with your concern, and your anxiety will clear away."

Rest. Wait. Trust.

So it comes back to that again, to the Gospel. Where I have erred, Christ must redeem, in His own way and in His own timing. He died to cover my wife-ing, my mothering, my home-schooling...because I just keep smearing those precious things with sin. But, yes, I am confident that His grace is sufficient to redeem all of this.

And I must trust that His grace is sufficient to redeem the children that, as a sinful and twisted woman, I am mothering with a fallen, broken heart.

Trust. Wait. Rest.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


When I was a kid, there were these cool markers that wrote with magical disappearing ink. You could write a secret message, then watch the words on the paper vanish right before your eyes. To make the words reappear, you simple colored over the apparently blank paper with a different magic marker. Voila! Your secret message was revealed!

And then there is the reverse kind of magic. Instead of disappearing until summoned forth, a thing reappears spontaneously, no matter how hard you try to remove it. Like the blood stains on Lady Macbeth's hands: "Out, damned spot!" No matter how thoroughly she scrubs, the spot reappears.

That second kind of magic is the kind infecting all my housework.

I washed all the laundry today. Washed, dried, folded, put away...all the laundry baskets were empty. Were empty. Now, magically, before the day is done, dirty clothes again occupy the baskets in the laundry room.

I washed dishes last night before I went to bed. This morning, magically, there were dirty dishes in the sink.

I cleaned the bathroom last Thursday. Today, toothpaste spatters the mirror and soap scum rings the bathtub.

I swept the floors Saturday evening. This evening, the floors are crunchy.

In the words of Gilderoy Lockhart, "It's just like magic!"

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Last night for dinner, we ate meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green peas. It was delicious. I ate more than I should have. As I began cleaning dishes afterward, I thought, "Okay, that's it! I am so stuffed! Starting tomorrow, I am going to eat less!"

Has anyone besides me noticed that it is SO EASY to decide to eat less right AFTER a big meal?

My resolve lasted all the way until this morning. Actually, I completely forgot about it. Fortunately, I remembered just in time to not eat second breakfast. I forgot last night's resolve again about an hour before noon, when I caught myself reaching for a bag of tortilla chips to hold me over until lunch.

Ergh! Not overeating would be so much easier if I always felt as stuffed as I did last night after dinner!

I have noticed that a similar thing happens concerning housework. I spend half an hour digging through clutter to find something I need, or I shift piles and boxes when company comes over and then shift them back again when company leaves, or I haul a ton of junk off the floors so that I can mop this week, only to haul all that same junk off the floor again next week. While I'm digging frantically or hauling boxes, I think, "Okay! That's it! Starting tomorrow, I am going to begin decluttering!" And when tomorrow dawns, I forget.

It would be so much easier to remember to de-clutter if I could maintain the feeling of frustration that sets in when I am searching through junk for something I need or when I am moving boxes again so that I can mop the floor.

I have adopted a small thing/one thing strategy that has helped a little. I really want to get a lot done at once, so that I can step back and admire the fruit of my labor. Doing a little at a time produces such slow, underwhelming results. It is difficult, sometimes, to persevere.

Today, I emptied a laundry basket that has been sitting on my bedroom floor for over a year. It was full of clothes that needed to be ironed, clothes that no one wears because no one wants to iron them.

People only iron their favorite things, those items that float briefly at the top of the basket for a day, two days at the max - that one pair of pants, those two shirts. Everything else gets piled in the basket, pressed down, buried, forgotten.

My house doesn't look any cleaner for my having emptied that one laundry basket. I am not any thinner for skipping the tortilla chips and eating a salad for lunch. I can't point and say "Ta Da!" and no one else is going to say, "Wow! You cleaned out that laundry basket!" or "Your pants look the tiniest bit less tight! That is awesome!"

So, I'm telling you HERE, right now, because I want to celebrate. If I don't celebrate small accomplishments, I may not get to celebrate at all!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


My "baby" is seventeen years old. It has been several years since I had a small child living in my house.

I remember those days, though - the days of endlessly cycling through meals and laundry and playing games and picking up toys and reading storybooks and naps and meals and more laundry and...At the end of the day, you fall into bed exhausted because you've been on your feet going full-throttle for 15-16-18 hours, and you're disheartened because, as tired as you are, when you look around at your messy house and the unfinished ToDo list, you feel like you haven't accomplished one darn thing!

I remember...except that I don't. Not really. Time has erased some of the fatigue and much of the sense of futility.

I kept baby Lizzy yesterday while her mom attended a class in Martin.

On my Monday ToDo list were: Write two articles (one, 2000 words; one, 500 words); research marketing; read other writers on writing; catch up on emails and write two letters; clean out email inbox; catch up on laundry; exercise;...

What I actually did was: play with Play-Doh; color; read books; fix snacks and lunch; make multiple trips to the potty (I lost count); play outside in the yard; swing on the porch swing;...

When Lizzy and her mom finally headed down the driveway toward their home yesterday afternoon, I headed back inside and pulled out my neglected ToDo list. "I did not get a single thing done today!" I lamented.

But then I caught myself. "No, that's not right," I corrected myself, "I got a LOT done today!" (Just not anything on that ToDo list!)

Later, I was talking with my youngest - the seventeen-year-old - and I commented how easily I had slipped back into that wrong thinking that says play and parenting (or grandparenting) aren't "real" work because they don't enable you to check off boxes on a list of objectives.

That got me to thinking about how tired I so often felt as a young mother of many children, and how so often I felt like I hadn't accomplished anything visible/measurable at each day's end. No matter how hard I worked, there were always more dirty clothes in the laundry room floor, more dirty dishes in the sink, more books and toys scattered over the living room floor, more noses and bottoms to wipe, more boo-boos to kiss...

So today, fresh on the wake-up call I received yesterday, I want to say to all you young mothers out there:

Yours is a high and holy and honorable calling. It may not look like it, and it often won't feel like it, but you are accomplishing great and glorious things in your messy, ordinary, exhausting, day-to-day existence. You are nurturing eternal souls and raising up a new generation of warriors and warrior-princesses.

Young mother:  you are a queen among women.

Yesterday, I did not accomplish anything on my ToDo list. No, I had far greater things to do instead.
Lizzy found Uncle Thomas's cool sunglasses. "Take my picture and send it to Mamaw!" she exclaimed.

You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, training them up in God's fear, minding the house and making your household a church of God as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts. - Charles H. Spurgeon

Sunday, October 9, 2016


In no particular order, here are ten things I am thankful for today:

1. Sunshine and cooler temperatures.
2. Morning coffee and time to read my Bible on the front porch swing.
3. I have gas in the van and groceries for the week ahead.
4. Helen and I knocked out some overdue schoolwork this morning - woohoo!
5. My wonderful next-door neighbors.
6. Dennis, Justin, Abby, and Carly - because you love my children well, and because you are awesome people.
7. Geneva, Lizzy, Felix, Jules, and Baby P - blessings upon blessings!
8. Opportunities to write - not just for myself, but for others, too.
9. The encouragement and support of my children - Wow. Just, Wow.
10. Friends and family who have crossed over to Glory, whose memories tug my heart toward home.

TAG! It's your turn now - what are you thankful for today?