Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Lord's Lullaby

"Hush little baby, don't say a word..."


His cheeks are flushed, especially the left one -- it's always seemed to turn more red than the right. His skin is hot, his temperature is high, and my heart is...restless.


I once heard it said,"...to have a child is the decision to forever allow your heart to go walking around outside of your body."


And it's true.


I'm rocking my heart, my youngest child, in an old nursery room glider that's rocked so many hearts down through so many generations that it now tries to tells its own stories, through creaks and knocks.

"Momma's gonna buy you a mocking bird..."


I'm singing to him - over him, trying everything I know to comfort him. If I could steal his pain away and absorb it myself, I would.


We hate to see our children hurt, don't we? I'm convinced there's no greater pain.


And a fever is just the beginning. As their little hearts become big, the pain grows, too. Their tummy aches turn into disappointments, their skinned up knees into broken hearts, and their childish fears turn into lost jobs, divorce, addictions, and all those grown up sized failures.


"And if that mocking bird don't sing..."

It's love that pulls this lullaby out of me. I sing over my child because I love him -- but I'm not signing alone. As much as I love this baby boy, the Lord loves him more, and the scriptures say, He is singing, too. (Zephiniah 3:17)  Not just over my son, but over me, and you.


Can you hear it?


Can you even imagine it?


The God who simply SPOKE the universe into creation, is now SINGING over you. If His mere WORDS set the earth into motion, then how much more power is contained in his SONG?


The thought of it all gives this restless mother's heart rest. 

For my love song is imperfect; it has limits and is tainted with sin - and yet, still, I desire the best for my children. If my out of tune, off pitch lullaby can comfort, soothe, and calm my child, then how much more can His perfect love song heal and unburden us?


In every mother's life, there comes a point that we can't help our children. We can't heal their every sickness, right their every wrong, ,keep them out of every danger -- or allieviate their every pain. But He can, and He loves them more than we can fathom.

Maya Angelou says, "A bird doesn't sing because it has all the
answers, but because it has a song."


So keep singing, weary mother, remembering that your never performing a solo, but rather a duet with the Lord.


I cup his face and stroke his flushed cheek with my thumb, and I sing.


"Hush little baby, don't you cry, our Daddy loves you and so do I."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Take a Seat


Who would keep fighting a battle when they've already conquered hell? 

Who would make bail and yet choose to remain in their cell? 

Who would keep searching for the cure when they've already been made well?

And who would desperately try to cover stains that have long been washed farewell? 

I would. 
I have. 
I do.

I just want to make Him proud. I'm determined to make the Lord pleased with me. 

I'll try harder. I'll do better next time. Then he'll really love me...right? 

"Love me!" my heart craves, cries, begs. 

"I do!" His Word promises again and again.

What heights, what depths (Eph. 3:18); He loved us first (1 John 4:19); a love that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:19); I have loved you (John 15:9); the Father loves you (John 16:27); He gave himself for you (Eph. 5:2); and on and on.

But that slimy serpents slithers through the grooves of my cerebellum whispering the age old lie, "Did God really say...?" 

So, I doubt.

And I allow the Enemy to convince me that I'm surely but one misstep away from God leaving me this way - forever.

You know the saying, "If it's too good to be true then it probably isn't true"? Well, HIM loving ME is too good to be true. 

I'm not wanted enough, disciplined enough, worthy enough, likable enough, together enough, redeemable enough, (fill in the blank) enough.

Enough, enough already! 

You'd think I'd know better by now. You'd think, I'd have enough "whatever" to overcome this doubt. You'd think I'd be stronger, wiser, more victorious...by now. 

What is wrong with me?

Me. 
Me, me, me. 

There I go again. Looking at me when I should be looking at Him. 

Should be, ought to. 

Always comparing, measuring, always falling short.

Still believing the lie that I have at least some ability to save myself.

How long, Lord, will You let me be haunted by my inadequacies? How long will you allow me to chase after Your love? Where is this "rest" You talk about? Where is the "easy yoke"? Where is all the "free, free indeed"? 

I was certain that, by now, you would have healed me. 

But here I am, once again: same doubts, same shame, same prayer, same plea, same demons, same struggle...

same hope,
         same trust,
                 same faith,
                             same today, 
                                         yesterday, 
                                               and tomorrow.

You've been good, you are good, you will be good.

Whether you choose to give me deliverance from my doubt,
or grace for the moment, I will praise you.

If a broken and contrite heart you will never despise, then I'm in luck, because broken and contrite is all I have, it's all I am...

but it's all yours. 

I have no choice but to trust Him, to wait on Him, to hold on, for dear life, to the glimpses, to the promises, to the marvelous mystery of a God who, while we were still sinners, rejecting him, mocking him, even crucifying him, would willingly sacrifice himself to earn us, earn ME, a seat at His table. 

If he did that for us - for me - then surely he isn't 
disappointed when I pull out a chair, and actually 
                                                                                       take 
                                                                                              a 
                                                                                                 seat. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Squeaky Wheel



“You can’t let the squeaky wheel get the grease!” 

This has been one of my most common mottos in life – and especially, in parenting. I’ve always been annoyed anytime I’ve witnessed a disobedient child getting all the attention. I’ve always cringed at the sight of the “slacker” finally doing something “normal” and thus getting lavished in praise for doing what they should have done all along.

“We shouldn't praise normalcy,” I would lecture, bitterly; “Normalcy is to be expected. We should only praise exceptionalism.”

And while this may be an effective attitude in business and government, it doesn't work in the home, and it certainly isn’t how Christ deals with us.

Even as I type this, I want so badly to reject it. I literally despise the notion of the lazy, selfish, and disobedient person getting showered in gifts and attention. I despise the mere thought of the hard-working, obedient, and honest person getting no more love and attention than the idiot who squandered it all. I despise the prodigal son – and I particularly resent his Father.

If I was the Father, I would have taught that wayward son a lesson. First of all, he wouldn’t have got my inheritance early, and second of all, if I was merciful enough to let him back in my house after he betrayed me like that, he would have earned his keep.  

And If I was the Shepard in Luke, I would have let that careless, and obviously inattentive, lost sheep go. After all, it’s not fair to the other ninety-nine, if I leave them alone to go after the one who couldn’t act right. And if I’m going to be giving anyone free-rides on my shoulders, it’s going to be the ones who deserve it. The other ninety-nine seemed to manage to stay on the right path, why should I give extra attention to the one who couldn’t?

And why should I go downstairs to the room of my grounded son and hug him, and tell him how much I love him, when his more obedient siblings deserve whatever hugs would have went to him? Why should all my attention go to the trouble-maker, while the obedient siblings sit upstairs alone? Why should the squeaky wheel get all the grease?

And why should—

“The only reason you don’t squeak, is because you’ve got the grace,” the Lord interrupts my complaints.

This shuts me up.

Those times I think I’ve got it all together, those times I think I’m so righteous, and those times I think I’m so capable, it turns out,  I’m nothing more than a squeaky wheel that’s been silenced by grace.

And come to think of it, I’m not even all that silent. I whine (squeak) , I complain (squeak), and sometimes I even write my grumbles on a blog (squeak, squeak).  Yet, the Mechanic is always listening, always seeking out the origin of the squeak, and is always ready with His bottle of greasy grace.

The Holy Spirit then faces me with this pride-killing question: How could you withhold grace from others when you know it is the only thing that keeps you turning smoothly? Without it, you would rust – and die.

Oh, as much as my inner-Pharisee wants to fight back, scripture proves time and time again that in the Lord’s shop, the squeaky wheel always gets the GRACE – and truth is, we are ALL squeaky wheels. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Overcoming Jealousy, Control, and Insecurity.

I’m going to share something with you that I think/hope will help someone who is struggling. 

When I first married my husband I moved into him and his ex-wife’s home. My husband interacts with his ex-wife on a near daily basis. Nearly five days a week, my husband works out at a gym where one of his ex-girlfriends works. We have almost never been to one of our kids sporting events where at least a couple of his ex-girlfriends were not there also. I didn’t grow up in a small town and so I wasn’t used to this. These encounters and interactions used to make me so jealous, stressed out, angry, resentful, and bitter. I thought it was unfair that these women were still a part of our life and I felt that they were a constant threat to my marriage. Out of jealously and fear, I would spend a lot of time and energy trying to control my husband and everyone around me – making me more and more miserable in the process. I no longer struggle with these demons because through prayer and Bible study I came to realize a few things: 

1.You can’t make people love you. 

Think about it, even God can’t make us love him. We have all been given a free will and the only way we can truly love is when we voluntarily choose to love. No matter how much control I exerted, I couldn’t make my husband love me. (Fortunately, he already did love me more than anything; I just didn’t quite realize it at the time.) And even if we could MAKE someone love us, would we want that forced love anyway? You see, I had to come to terms with the reality that if I had to try so hard to make sure my husband loved me, then I don’t want his love. Just as Christ sets us free and allows us the freedom to choose whether or not we love him, we have to do the same for our spouse. 

2.We can't always choose our circumstances, but we can always choose our reaction. 

Well, on one hand, I did choose my circumstance when I married a man who lives in such close proximity to everyone from his past, but I didn’t quite realize ALL that I had signed up for at the time. In the beginning I used to think it was my husband’s fault, these womens' fault, or just my circumstance that was causing me so much pain. I would always think things like, “If only we didn’t live in this town, then I’d be happy,” or “If only my husband would quit talking to her, then I would be happy,” and on and on. Today I have a phrase that I say all the time: "If you are not happy right now, you will never be happy." What I mean is that if happiness is dependent on anything external, it is not true happiness, and will always be temporary. Even if we did move to a new town or my husband did stop talking to a certain person, that would only make me happy until the next thing I didn’t like happened. You see, it was not my situation that was messed up, it was my heart, and until I changed my heart, I would find a way to be miserable in any situation. It was not my husband who was making me hurt, it was not the other women making me jealous or angry, it was me choosing to feel these ways. It may sound simple, but the day that I realized I am not a slave to my emotions and that I can choose to be kind, content and happy even when I don’t feel those ways, was life changing and set me free in so many ways. Remember, you can’t always change the world around you, but you can change yourself. 

3.Christ says love your “enemies.” 

Now, the funny thing about this is that in the beginning of my healing process I would take this command and apply it to my situation and I would begrudgingly pray for these women and try to be as kind to them as possible because that’s what I thought I was “supposed” to do. Well, I put "enemies" in quotations because God revealed to me that these women were NOT my enemies except for in my own mind! Crazy, but true. Satan can make us believe such ridiculous lies. The truth was, these other women probably never even thought about me, and here I was considering them my enemies. Today, when a wrong thought creeps into my mind, I understand that I don’t have to accept it. If our thoughts do not align with the Word of God, then they are not true and we don’t have to accept them. Today when a wrong thought enters my mind, I get rid of it and I replace it with a truth. For example, if I catch myself feeling insecure or thinking a negative thought about myself, I may replace that thought with “I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works,” (Ephesians 2:10). The scripture is a sword that we can use to cut through the lies that Satan tries to convince us of. However, if we do not study the scriptures and know the truth, we will be very vulnerable and easily deceived – as I once was. 

4. We are called to be Holy (set apart). 

One thing that really convicted me was the thought that my jealously and control was a horrible witness; not only to these other women, but to my husband! If I claim to be a follower of Christ, and yet I’m walking around stressed out, angry, and jealous, then why on earth would anyone else want to be a Christian? As Christians we are called to march to the beat of a different drum and sometimes that means being kind, content, and peaceful even when it doesn’t make sense or even when we don’t feel like it. Once I got a grasp on this, not only did I quit behaving so rudely, but I wrote apology letters to these other women whom I felt I had mistreated. Only one wrote back, and that’s ok, because it wasn’t about them, it was about me being who I claimed to be: a holy and devout follower of Christ. You see, I used to have the mentality that people owed me respect, and that if I didn’t get it exactly the way I felt I deserved it, then it was an attack on me and that I must do something about it. That was nothing more than pride which is another form of fear. Today I have such confidence through Christ that I can be disrespected or mistreated without feeling the need to retaliate. Christ commands us to fight for peace and I think that a peaceful Christian is one of the best witnesses we can be! 

Today, my situation is the EXACT same as it was years ago. Nothing externally has changed. What changed was my heart. I can honestly tell you today that I do not struggle with jealousy, fear, or insecurity. Christ has set me free from these things, but it is an ongoing process that requires me staying in the scripture and constantly leaning on Christ. If you had asked me 4 years ago, I would have never dreamed I could be as free, content, and joyful as I am today. If you are struggling with control, bitterness, resentment, or jealously and you think that you cannot be happy unless your situation changes, then let me assure you that you can be set free from these emotions and that you can learn to be happy right where you are at! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

What Every Bully Wishes You Knew

         I recognize bullies. I “get” them; I feel the pain pulsing in their hearts and empathize with the desperation pumping through their veins. For that same poison has pulsed and pumped through my own bloodstream.

And although DNA may make one person more susceptible to becoming a bully than another, most bullies are not born, they’re created. They’re molded, sometimes instantly, and sometimes over many years, by hands of rejection, abandonment, abuse, and heartache – and these hands always craft into the dead center of every bully one thing: fear.

Fear is the master; the bully is but its slave. Anytime you see a prideful man, you see a man who is scared to death.

If we bullies were honest with you, we would tell you a few things.

We would tell you that the reason we make you feel so stupid, is because we’re terrified you may figure out how smart you truly are – and if that happens, you’d realize how dumb we truly are.

When we control you, it’s because we are fearful that too much freedom may allow you to see that you don’t really need us anymore.

When we hurt you and intimidate you, it is because we hope that by keeping your head down; you’ll never be able to look up – look up and see that we are actually the ones trembling.

When we make fun of your friends and your family, it’s because our hearts are wrenching with jealously for that kind of love.

When we nag, criticize, and point out your every weakness, it’s only because we’re petrified you’ll get a taste of your true goodness – and realize how much better you are than us.

We are paranoid because we know we deserve the worst, and we assume everyone else sees it too.

We don’t hate you; we hate how much we love you.

We hate how much we need you.

We hate how ugly we are, how weak we are, how broken we are, how lost and desperate we are.

We hate how scared we are.

So we spend our life in a state of constant self-defense.  

Until, if we’re lucky, we get to the point where we can’t defend anymore, and we give up – even if only long enough to murmur the plea, “Lord, help me.”

The only cure to the bully’s ill is love. Not just any love, certainly not human love, but only Perfect Love can cast out the fear that strangles and entangles the bully’s heart.

Love that never abandons, never fails, never lies, never takes advantage, never controls, never abuses, and never disappoints – but rather Love that comforts, heals, saves, forgives, and endures forever.

Day by day, grace by grace, and “Lord, help me” by “Lord, help me,” Jesus Christ is taking my fear and insecurity -- and turning this born-again bully into a person who is free to love without fear.

The only way to win the fight... is to quit fighting. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Success is Service


Success. 

The word has haunted me much of my life. It has caused me to strive and agonize for years in an attempt to obtain it. I thought I needed it to prove my worth and make my family proud. 

Whether it was in the military, politics, law school, as a writer, or even just as a wife and mother, the desire to be SUCCESSFUL has often enslaved me. 

But, Christ set me free of that. 

How? 

I learned the true meaning of success. 

"Whoever wants to be great – must become a servant." Matthew 20:26

I feel more successful when I, with gratitude, scrub the toilets, wash the dishes, scratch my husband's back, or call up a lonely friend, than I ever had in all my former so-called accomplishments. 

Sure, service to Christ can take us places that the world would also consider successful. Christians may be called to serve as doctors, lawyers, or politicians -- and that is wonderful. But, God may call you, as He has me, to scrubbing your family's toilets -- and that is just as wonderful.  

As I raise my kids, I remind them every day that they are called to be successful. Not necessarily college grads, businessmen, or athletes....but successful, faithful servants, wherever that may lead them.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Messy Grace for a Messy Life



This pic is from last night at Secret Keeper Live Pajama Party! 
When she was only 5 years old, I meet this beautiful little blonde doing cartwheels at her brother’s little league football practice. Sure, she was adorable, but admittedly, I was more interested in her Dad, the coach! He was a recently divorced single Dad and I was a single Mom. We hit it off immediately. Our relationship was not “ideal.” After all, God never plans divorce. He never intends for m
arriages to fail. In fact, God hates divorce.

But....(and remember, with God there is always a ‘but’!) God will never waste a hurt in the lives of those who love Him. Despite our sin and mistakes, God has blessed us! He took our failures and made them examples of his amazing power and ability to restore a life! So, even though in a perfect world, I shouldn’t have ever met Kaylynne, and even though no one should ever have a step-parent, God can take ugly situations, and make them beautiful. It’s what He is best at.

As you probably know, me and that single Dad married -- and today, my step-daughter and I have a great relationship. I am beyond grateful that God has entrusted me with the care of her.

Last night, I was blessed with the opportunity to have the most important conversation with her that she will ever have. We talked for 45 minutes or more about Jesus. We talked about who He is, what He has done for us, and how we can respond to Him. She asked questions, I answered, and back and forth until she said, “I think this is something I should do.”

So, last night, on highway 64-E in Louisville, Kentucky at about 9:20PM, Kaylynne and I prayed together and she accepted Christ into her life as her Lord and Savior! Sure, she is only 10 years old, but I don’t take child confessions lightly. I was only 7 years old when I accepted Christ and, well, it stuck! :-)

After we prayed, I leaned over and put my arm around her – and suddenly a great weight hit me! It was the weight of responsibility. The reality that I am the chief female Christian influence in her life hit me...and I was scared.

“How am I ever going to live up, Lord? I’m such a mess!”

The Lord quickly replied, “...but my Grace is even messier, and I’ve got you covered in it.”