Filling Life's Potholes with God's Perfection

“As for God, His way is perfect.” (Psalm 18:30)

God Stayed. Jesus Came. What About You?  Part 2

God Stayed. Jesus Came. What About You? Part 2

I asked my son Jarrod’s permission to share a page out of his life’s book if I promised to protect his identity. He never hesitated in declaring, “I don’t mind you using my name!” He understands this page in his chapter on repentance was a pivotal moment not only in our relationship, but also in his spiritual development. His willingness to let me share it demonstrates the confidence he has in the grace he received.

If you have kids or have ever been one, you know the teen years naturally cause emotions to rise and fall quickly. The teetering toddler who once held a finger tightly, all too soon transforms into a teenager who secretly wants to slap that same hand as far as the east is from the west. Eventually and inevitably, tempers flare. Voices rise. Faces redden. And that’s just the mother! 🙂

However, on this particular day it was Jarrod who lost his cool. He let a man old enough to be his father get under his skin while playing golf, and he lost all control. He knew disrespect would not be tolerated by either his dad or me. He had also learned early on to confess quickly when he’d done something wrong. Being the son of a teacher who taught in his school helped him realize someone always stood ready to tattle. He also learned the hard way that things would go much better for him if he confessed before I heard it from an eager tattletale. But this time the news beat him home, and his mama was more than a little upset. 

I usually let his dad handle most of his heavy discipline because heaven knows it takes one to know one. This time, however, all my pushed buttons wore Jarrod’s fingerprints. It had been a hard season of teachable moments. When I finally saw him, I pounced on him like a hungry lion on its prey. He sputtered and fumed and announced he was going to leave. (Just between you and me, my heart broke, but I stood my ground.) I told him he could leave if he wanted to, and go as far as the measly sum in his checking account would take him. Out the door he went. This was not our finest hour.

Maybe this story reminds you of a parable Jesus told in Luke 15 commonly referred to as The Prodigal Son or The Lost Son. Like Jarrod, the young man in the story left home with the blessings his father provided in order to pursue his own way. The father didn’t chase him. The father stayed, worked his fields with one eye scanning the horizon, and he waited. I know how that father felt. 

To this day, I don’t know where Jarrod went or what he did, but I know what I did. I sat at the bottom of the stairs near the front door, praying, and waiting. I would still be praying and waiting if necessary, as I know some of you are with your children. I learned to trust God more that night.

The prodigal son stayed gone long enough to live a worldly lifestyle and exhaust his father’s money. Jarrod stayed away until the wee hours of the next morning. 

The prodigal’s situation in Luke 15 grew dire enough for him to long for home. He realized his pride had caused his desperation, and he ached to become a lowly servant in his father’s house. He practiced the speech he only had the chance to partially give. As soon as his father spotted him in the distance, he ran to him (something honorable Jewish men didn’t do) and embraced him. The once-lost son had changed his heart, returned home, and all was forgiven.

Jarrod never said whether or not he practiced his speech before FINALLY calling home. But it was effective. He knew he’d made a huge mistake and more than anything, he wanted to be back in his mom and dad’s good graces. There were consequences for his actions, but many blessings upon his return. The hug he received when he walked through the door became an object lesson in grace. He knew his repentance had been met with forgiveness even though he didn’t deserve it.

As members of Christ’s body, perhaps each of us could work toward creating more loving and forgiving environments, so that those who’ve chased sinful lifestyles will pay attention to being supernaturally drawn toward repentance and a loving church home – one that’s been watching, waiting, and praying for them. I am not saying we should dismiss the hurt they’ve caused or ignore sin. I am saying our attitude toward them makes all the difference in their desire to return. Jesus modeled our response with the woman caught in adultery when he said, “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.” 

Just imagine how you and I would bless the name of Jesus if we helped His church become known as a place of acceptance for those who might be practicing their homecoming speeches even now! 

However, if you’re one who’s been running toward your own desires and away from True Love, just know God waits for you. He’s ready and willing to cast your sins as far as the east is from the west. There will still be consequences, but He’s ready to wrap you in a robe of righteousness, establish a loving relationship with you, and prepare you to make a difference in this world. If you still feel the need to run, run home. Just know, the longer you’ve been running, the longer the return may be. Trust God every step of the way. Forgiveness is worth it!

In Jesus’ parable, God stayed and waited for the prodigal to return. Yet, next week in the gospel of John we will meet an obedient woman who lost her sense of worth and found herself separated from Jesus. For her, Jesus came.  

“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

God Stayed. Jesus Came. What About You? Part 1

God Stayed. Jesus Came. What About You? Part 1

At Christmas, our pastor told a story that stuck with me like a bug on a sticky pad. I can’t shake it off my heart so I’m thinking I’m supposed to tell you the story.

A husband and wife began fighting so much that the wife, who battled depression and anxiety, fell into deep depression. Her negative emotions overwhelmed her so much that she finally packed a bag and left her husband and three children. 

The husband sent text after text, made phone call after phone call, but she never responded. He filed a missing person’s report, but nothing. Weeks went by, so the husband hired a private investigator to look for his wife. Soon, she was found in a less-than-desirable motel on the shady side of town. Immediately, the husband and children jumped into their van, high-tailed it to the motel, and knocked on the door of her room. When she opened the door and saw her family, she gathered her belongings without saying a word, packed her bag, and got into the van. All the way home no one said a word. After they got to the house, the kids went to their room, and the confused husband spoke first, “I’ve sent you hundreds of texts and made hundreds of phone calls that you never answered. Then, when we showed up at your door, you just packed your bag, and came with us. Why did you come so easily?”

At this point in the story, I leaned in to hear her response because I knew exactly how she felt. I know that feeling of deep depression. Maybe some of you do too. Some of you may wonder if your life really matters because Satan has increased his lies from mere whispers to shouts, reminding you of all the mistakes you’ve made. His you-will-never-be-good-enough-to-make-a-difference song is on repeat in your head. You believe those you love would be much better off without all your inner turmoil ruining their days. Satan has you twisted in so many knots that you believe the most loving thing you could do would be to go away. You wonder how God could ever love someone like you.

If you feel this way, lean in, and listen closely to what I learned this past year. God does indeed love you! You are His child, the apple of His eye, and He will never leave you. He sent His Son Jesus to pay the bill for all your sins. He sent His Holy Spirit to establish a loving, intimate relationship with you – one that Satan continually attempts to destroy. Jesus wants to become your best friend who talks with you for hours over meals, laughs at your jokes, dances to your music, cries when you hurt, and shows up every single time you invite Him into the scenes of your life’s movie.

Yes, you’ve made mistakes. Who hasn’t? Both you and I have purposely done things that do not honor God. Let’s confess them, and get on with life. People have hurt you. Forgive them. And just know this: there will be people who will never forgive you, but God always will when you ask, and He’s the one that counts. If people don’t love you, that’s their loss, but remain open to love. When others make light of you, maybe it’s because they don’t understand you. Kill their ridicule with kindness. If you feel rejected, there are godly people who will walk closely beside you. Go where they are!

All this was easy to type, but so very hard to learn. As my Daddy always says, “If it was easy everybody would be doing it.” It took an entire year to get to the bottom of my life’s memories I had managed to keep boxed and stored. However, God knew it would be for my benefit to rapid-fire an abundance of challenges toward me in order to completely empty me. He knew that only then could I survive and know beyond all doubt that the joy I now feel is ALL because of Him and ABSOULUTELY NOT because of anything I had done.

We can’t truly love anyone else until we grasp how much God loves us. God is love! He proved His love to me over and over by leading me step by step through a grueling, but glorious process of transformation. He will do the same for you. Now, I have just one question I’m feeling led to ask:

The Spirit kept reminding me of two stories in the gospels that I’d like for us to step into over the next two weeks. These two stories helped me understand how to take what I’d learned through an inward examination of myself and apply it to outwardly loving the people he’s placed in my path. It helped me be able to decide whether I should stay put whenever someone I love wants to run away or whether I should go after them. I hope you’ll join me and share your thoughts as we go.

So! I guess you’d like to know how the pastor’s story ended. Right? The wife’s honest response made my eyes first sting, then puddle, and finally spill over their brims because her response would have been mine too. The woman left home feeling depressed and useless. After her husband pursued her and brought her back home, he asked, “Why did you come home so easily?”

Her response?

“BECAUSE YOU CAME!”

Sweet friend, Jesus came for you too!

Special Edition

Special Edition

I rarely deviate from my usual posting on Tuesdays. However, this year’s Lean into Jesus Ministries Women’s Conference, TRUST GOD will encourage you as you walk in faith. I’d love to see you in Guntersville, Alabama on February 2nd!

God created you. He has redeemed you; you need not fear. He calls you by name; you are HIS! He will be with you when you walk through waters. He will protect you when you walk through fire. You are precious in His eyes and honored. He loves you. You can TRUST HIM. (Isaiah 43:1-4)

Tara Boyce, Maryann Hood, Jeri Lynn Daniel, and Charlene Miller will share powerful testimonies of God’s faithfulness.  

Lana Swartzlander, Kim Underwood King, Patti Smart League, Atlee Griffin, Wendy Griffin, Kristie Brothers, Shirley Chupp and Rosalie Hunt will share drama presentations of women who fully trusted in our mighty God.

First United Methodist Church Praise Team “Amplify” will lead worship. We will have special music by Tara Wilson Boyce, Elishaba Larson, Amanda Patterson, and Kristie Brothers. 

Lunch catered by Rock House Catering is included in the $25 ticket price. 

Simply click this link to purchase your tickets today: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/trust-god-womens-conference-tickets-48516170171 

For more information about Lean Into Jesus Ministries click here: www.leanintojesus.com.


FINALLY! Happy New Year!

FINALLY! Happy New Year!

God has done, is doing, and will continue to do wonderful things even when some of those things might not seem so wonderful. During 2019, may each of us quickly recognize the mighty hand of God, trust in His perfect timing, and thank Him even more for the way He diligently works things out for our good.

Before we race into intentional joy next Tuesday, please take a few minutes to review how far down Perfection Road we’ve traveled in 2018. (Click the link on the picture if you’d like to read the post.)

Get ready for a very Happy New Year, friends!

What’s It All About?

What’s It All About?

Sunday holds the top spot on my list of favorite days. After a week’s worth of busy, Sunday smooths my ruffled feathers and fills me with hope for the next week. I hope it does that for you as well.

This past Sunday exceeded my greatest expectations. It wasn’t merely the worship that did the trick, though it did summon a few drops of emotion from my eyes. It wasn’t necessarily the inspiring message I heard, nor was it the oh-so-sweet sweet fellowship I’ve come to thrive on. No, it was the hearts of the children I’m blessed to serve that completely overwhelmed me.

My part of Sunday’s children’s service was to offer a short closing message and prayer, followed by some small group time with my amazing  4th  and  5th  grade boys. These particular assignments make Sunday extra special for me.

After watching a video lesson about being grateful with what we have during the Christmas season, I decided to reenact a scene from a movie that most of our kids are very familiar with. In A Charlie Brown Christmas, a frustrated Charlie cried out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus responded, “Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about,” as he stepped centerstage into the spotlight to beautifully quote Luke 2:8-14.  How wonderful it is to take the time to remember just how miraculous the birth of Jesus was!

As we moved into our prayer time together, we talked about the  prophet Isaiah’s description of Jesus, the Messiah who would come to earth as a baby to grow and live among us. I reminded them that Isaiah lived hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, but still knew that He would be a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.

The children seemed to understand that at some point we all need some wise advice, someone who will protect and take care of us, someone who will always be with us and never leave us, and someone who can give us peace in our crazy lives. Many prayed to have Jesus become their own Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.

Small group time began by handing out prayer cards to my circle of boys along with these instructions, “Tell God which one of these four descriptions of Jesus you need most in your life right now, and why you need it.”

I wasn’t prepared for the depth of emotion that poured onto these cards.

One boy asked for a Wonderful Counselor because he needed a friend.

Another wanted a Mighty God because he was being bullied at school. What I read at the bottom of the card from this boy who wore the biggest smile in the room broke my heart. He wrote: Why do people bully me?

Another seemed desperate for an Everlasting Father because he never got to see his dad.

And another one wrote that he needed a Prince of Peace because it wasn’t very peaceful in his house right now.

It’s true, we feel our need for a Savior when we are children, and we never outgrow that need. Are there children in your life struggling quietly with stressful emotions? Take time to ask questions, and then listen.

I’m pretty sure some of you grownups reading this right now could also use a friend, a protector, some security, or a whole lot of peace; maybe all four. Don’t be afraid to let it show, and then intentionally lean on Jesus.

However, there may be a few of us who could be a little more like Jesus by supporting someone else through difficult days. Look around. Who needs you? By learning how to become more Christlike, we find exactly what we need.  

And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:8-14, KJV, emphasis definitely mine)



You Weren’t Called To Do It All!

You Weren’t Called To Do It All!

Maybe feeling the pressure to meet every single need of everyone in our lives is a “firstborn” thing. Maybe it’s a “being a woman” thing. Or, maybe it’s a “pride” thing. Perhaps, it’s all three rolled up in a giant ball of mistletoe. (I’m thinking some sons and husbands might be reading this, so you can pay me later for the insight. 🙂 )

Especially during the holidays, many of us women feel the need to be in charge, to see that everything gets done, and gets done exceptionally well when we were never called to do it all. We want dinners to go off without a hitch as presents wrapped with artistic flair lie underneath our perfectly decorated tree. On the big day, we hope to display rested eyes that twinkle with excitement and gleaming smiles that sparkle. We long to create cherished memories that etch themselves into the minds of our children and grandchildren.

Several months ago, a very wise friend gave me some great advice I’d like to pass along to you. It translates to every demanding season of life – not just Christmas. As I sat wet-eyed in her office chair, I explained the reason for my emotional drain. A long-lost relative had suddenly and unexpectedly reappeared in my life only because he needed someone, anyone, to manage his life during his long hospital stay. He nominated me while I was in the throes of also managing my mom’s doctor visits, medication, bill paying, and her general activities of life. His unrelenting demands stretched my body and emotions as thin as frog hair split four ways. Resentment took hold as he repeatedly insisted that I meet his every whim. I fully admit to you that love was not what I felt for him.

My friend listened as I poured every ounce of my frustration into her lap. Then, she did what she does so well, she understood. She had been there, seen others go there, and offered these three suggestions:

When I spent some time thinking about each of my tasks, there were very few that only I could do. I was blessed with friends and family who would have gladly pitched in if I’d only asked. However, my sense of responsibility overtook my good sense. My pride stood between me and rest.

So, please don’t think that only you can save the day or that you alone can perform a task with excellence. What expectations are you trying to meet that could just as easily be met by someone else? Don’t be too proud to ask, especially when it comes to caring for loved ones. Give the people in your life the opportunity to not have any regrets! Let them help. Let others do what they can do. Those cherished memories you hope to create are counting on you!

God sits on the throne quietly urging the Spirit to send just the right people to you at just the right time. Recognize His voice. Listen to it. Find the rest your body and emotions need. By letting go of lesser things outside your calling, God just might bless you with greater things you were actually created to do. Let go, and let God do what only He can do!

Paul knew he needed the support of his friends to do what God had called him to do. I’m sure you can relate to the discouragement he felt when he failed to locate Titus, his much-needed friend and brother in Christ.

“When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord opened a door for me, I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. Instead, I said good-bye to them and left for Macedonia.”

(2 Corinthians 2:12-13)

Later, when he met up with Titus in Macedonia Paul gave God all the credit for the comfort that only He can provide.

When we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. Instead, we were troubled in every way: conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his arrival but also by the comfort he received from you. He told us about your deep longing, your sorrow, and your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.”

(2 Corinthians 7:5-7)

No matter the season, the stress, the heartache, or the grief, celebrate the God whose divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)