Be Careful What You Soak In

When Sharon, our woman’s ministry director, shared her heart with me about the Soaking tonight at our church, I could barely contain my excitement. The explanation for that is too long for this space, but I will say that part of the story involves a struggle I shared with our life group last year. For two years, I tried to walk away from the TV by nine p.m. every night, and for two years, my pattern was, every night, to fail. This may seem like a small thing, but I assure you, it was a spiritual struggle, and I was locked in a pattern of defeat.

Although I’ve in no way arrived, I do have victory in this area now, and it doesn’t look anything like I thought it would. I will share a few points, and then, back to the Soaking.

First, God used Pastor Todd’s messages from Judges, especially the first two, and also a teaching series by Dr. Tony Evans called Life in the Spirit to guide me. They worked almost lockstep together, and of course, God was the Author of it all.

Next, I had to change my mind. Both teachers used those words exactly, and it was true.

Also key was that I had to spread my worship out over the week, or the world/the flesh/the enemy drained my tank before I got past Monday.  And a biggie: idols had to fall. And finally, I had to align my views with God’s.

Which brings me back to the Soaking.  It wasn’t until Sharon shared the Soaking with me that I understood a story Dr. Evans told about a crusty pot in his kitchen sink.  It had to soak to break loose.  It had to stay there awhile.  It had to abide.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  (John 15: 4-5 ESV)

I was soaking in Netflix. I was soaking in indie and pop music. I was soaking in social media. And all the while I said I wished I had more time for God.

After some thought, I decided to replace chunks of time I was spending on those other things with better things to soak in:  worship music on my bike ride, Todd/Tony Evans/the Bible on my phone while I actually do the dishes after dinner, not walking away from apartment ministry after all, opening the paper Bible to determine God’s view on a matter, and more.

And while we’re talking idols, forget walking out of the room.  I had to do my worship before I could even walk in.  Ouch.

So, there you have it.  I can’t wait until the Soaking on September 17.  I’m going to totally lose myself in it, like a crazy person.


Posted in A Thankful Heart, Women's Ministry Newsletters | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

When There’s Facebook Drama…

Facebook Logo Facebook Photo

Once, I received a particularly nasty Facebook message.  Also, I’d been unfriended and I didn’t even know it.  Blissfully ignorant of any trouble, I messaged this person the previous day, asking, “Hey…we aren’t Facebook friends.  I thought we were?”

Well, I asked, and this person answered, with a staccato spray of word bullets and a hand grenade or two.  This person was important to me.  And she responded with hollow point bullets.

Relationships are famous for their challenges, aren’t they?  This one had a bumpy road stretching backwards for many years.  It was one of the great heartaches of my life.  And make no mistake, I was just as much to blame in the problems as this person was, and possibly more.

At this point, wounded and bleeding, I crawled away to care for myself.  And I became eloquent in my suffering, like a proper victim.  (Throwing up in my mouth here…)

And then, something strange happened. God used something a friend said to help me see a tender, green shoot uncurling out of the ashes of that Facebook message.  What the angry person was actually trying to say was that she would like a better relationship, and hearing from me more would help in that regard.

It’s hard to hear when your ears are stuffed with bitter cotton.  And mine were deafened by wads of unforgiveness and self-righteousness.  It’s hard to see when your eyes are blinded by martyrdom.  And my blindfold was thick, black and tight.

But at this point, I did the right thing.  I ran crying to God.

After some soul-searching, I decided to let everything ugly in that Facebook message melt away, and let that tender, green plant be the one thing that remained.

But that couldn’t happen without me first accepting the ugly truth about myself (offended/hurt = wounded pride), submitting to God’s cure (= repentance/Grace), and letting it go (= forgiveness/freedom).

During my sessions with God, I searched the pages of His word for His perspective on the matter.  I found words like these:

This discovery silenced my eloquence. In fact, it silenced me completely. And in my humanity, I didn’t have the power to pull this off, I can promise you.  In my humanity, I was offended and hurt, deafened and blinded.

But here’s what happened:  I found God’s viewpoint on this matter, and then, I decided to respond to that viewpoint in the way Jesus would respond.  And then, the magic happened, and the Holy Spirit fired up that motor and drove me, when before, in that relationship, I was trying to push a lifeless car up a steep hill.*

With a new excitement, I began to text this person, and then, to call.  Those texts and calls went unanswered, but I didn’t give up.  I was real.  I told this person I was wrong, because I was. I made no excuses for myself. And I told this person I’d like to start over.  I didn’t allow myself to look at her part of things, because that’s not my responsibility.** In other words, I left her part of it to her and God, I let God fix my end of it, and I forgave her. The Holy Spirit gave me the ability, which I didn’t have.  And He poured love/joy into the holes left by letting it all go

And that opened the door for a new start in a dead relationship.  Who says miracles don’t happen anymore?  In my eyes, this was an honest-to-goodness resurrection.*

Slowly, awkwardly, return texts began to come.  And next came calls. And I placed an alarm in my phone to remind me to text or call this person every day, even for just five minutes.  We lost a lot of ground in our separate corners, and we had a long bridge to build. And as we built, the little plant began to grow, and bloom.

Today, that plant is a tree, and this person is one of the best friends I have.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.  But there was a crossroads where I could have stayed in my corner, licking my wounds, refusing to look in the mirror.  And the dead would have remained dead.

Thanks be to God Almighty that I didn’t do that.  Because what we needed was a resurrection.*

*Dr. Tony Evans, Life in the Spirit series (8 messages)

**Dr. Henry Brandt, The Heart of the Problem

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For Brandon, Who Did the Right Thing

Once there was a mom, who went for the American Dream.  She had a good job, and she did well.  She drove a Mercedes-Benz.

The mom sometimes traveled for her job, and one day, at the pinnacle of her success, she boarded a plane for someplace she’d never been:  glittering Las Vegas.  Driving down the strip, she marveled at the sights, hanging her head out the window and swerving, until her business associate asked her to pull over and ride in the passenger seat.

“You should get out more,” said the business associate.

“Maybe so,” thought the mom.

In Las Vegas, the mom took photos, won awards, and made good memories, but when she got home, she noticed that her young son was unusually quiet.  One afternoon, she saw him running down the hall, hiding something.  Later, she quietly retraced his steps and found a crumpled drawing in the waste paper basket.  Smoothing it, she went to find him.

“Tell me about your drawing,” she said, gently.

Her son looked embarrassed, but he began to point out trees and houses on the paper.

“And what is this?” asked the mom, pointing to a drawing of a hammer, something shattered into shards, and what looked like drops of blood.

The son hesitated. “That’s my broken heart,” he said, lowering his eyes, but not before the mom saw tears.

“Oh, sweetheart!”  exclaimed the mom.  “Why is your heart broken?”

“Because you’re never here.”

Ah, there it was.

The mom gathered her son into her arms.  She comforted him.  And she promised him that she would never forget what he told her that day.

The mom kept her promise.  She taped the boy’s broken heart to her computer screen as a reminder.  And she contacted her business associates and clients and announced her semi-retirement.  She apologized to them for losing track and forgetting her priorities.

Years passed, and the boy grew.  He is almost a senior in high school.  The mom still devotes as much time to him as she can.

And guess what?  The mom still has her good job.  But now, she is so part time that she is almost a full-time mom.  The budget is tight, because she doesn’t make much money (sometimes nothing).  She sold the Mercedes long ago.

Occasionally, the mom wonders if she should get out more, but deep inside, she knows she did the right thing.  She and her son are close.  His heart is mended. And to this day, she still has his drawing.


The End.

Posted in A Thankful Heart, Facing the Monsters, Just Being Real, Parent Stories | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

An Open Letter to the World

Dear World,

Please forgive my sometimes embarrassingly bad example. I am supposed to be like my teacher, Jesus Christ.  I’m not there yet, but I press on.

Thank you.



Posted in Facing the Monsters, Just Being Real, The Year of Joy (2015) | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why I Left the Church

Apparently, people leaving the church is a topic of discussion. I see articles and books discussing the reasons why.   I hear it mentioned in talks. I pass a large, boarded up church in a college town when I visit family. That stark visual jarred me into thought.

I don’t know if people are really leaving the church, or why. I can only tell you why I did.

I left the church because it wasn’t real and neither was I.

That was years ago, and I am back in church. I love the church now, as I did then. But during my absence, I got some things figured out, mostly about myself. I did Bible studies alone, at home. I spent a lot of time one-on-one with God, out in nature. I didn’t miss a day of relating to Him.  I was real, and God was faithful.  I finally faced some truths, and that changed everything.

So there you have it–why I left the church. And I’ll leave you with one last thought:

It’s good to be back. 

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Look! Our Year Names

We’re kind of excited.  Some of us named 2015:

RebeccaIntentional (Philippians 3:13-14)

Rene’ – Gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Erin – Roots (Digging down deep in relationships)

Tempi – Focus

Barbara – Truth (John 8:32)

Amanda – Get Busy (James 1:22)

Lori – Awaken

Kelly – Compassion

Sherry – Laughter (Genesis 18:12-14 and Psalm 90:12-17)

Sherry’s 2015 song:

Sherry’s view from work:


Rainbow (2)

And Stephanie – Joy (John 15:11 and Psalm 16:11)

Did you name your year?

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Letting Go

2015 is the Year of Joy for me, and that word terrifies me. It terrifies me because I don’t want to go through something hard, and do it with joy.

In 2015, I am supposed to let go of:

  • words
  • fear
  • emotional panic

And yet, I hold onto these things with a white-knuckled, desperate power hold.

My assignment is to be real, so I share this story.  I used to be quite practiced at being fake.

All of this is hard.  

But as my pastor explained in December, God does not just equip us, He sustains us.

And I’m counting on that.

Words Fear Emotional Panic

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