Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tipping the Scales in 2011

2010 is winding to a close, and it's the time of year of taking stock, pondering and evaluation. I find myself looking back at 2010 and mulling over disappointments, failures, regrets. I also find myself looking hard to see if there are any places I would consider to be victories, or successes.

As one year ends and a new one approaches, I also find myself giving thought to what I want to do in the new year to hopefully secure the balance in the year to come will weigh heavier on the victories and successes side than the disappointments, failures and regrets.

I know I'm not alone, it's common to man. A new year offers new hope, new opportunity, and begs for a new plan.

I began last year 30 lbs lighter than I had the year before. This year after losing another 17 lbs in the first half, I find myself actually 5 lbs heavier (at least last I checked before the holiday) than I was a year ago. So I think I will file weight loss efforts on the side of disappointment and regret. I won't give it a complete failure mark though, because I know I did learn a lesson about how to get my weight down, and what it takes to feel better with regular activity and exercise in the first 6 months of the year. And I learned the importance of not slacking off.

I really hoped this would be the year I finally wrote my book. But, I didn't. But I don't think it qualifies as a failure, because in some ways, I feel like the Lord has been giving me a little more direction in that area. And although I do regret not being more diligent in my efforts, it's not a total loss. So I won't file that one under a failure, even if it isn't a success... yet.

Our financial situation isn't any better than it was a year ago. And in reality is probably a little worse. But in all honesty, I am guessing most people except a fortunate few would make that same assessment, the fact of the matter is, things are tough all over. So although I would definitely not consider that area of life to be either victorious or successful, I can't take on the failure all by myself, though I am sure there is a decent level of disappointment and regret to hold to.

So I have to wonder. What would I place on the side of success? Where has my victory come from this year? Surely I have to be able to file something under the "victory and success" side of the scale.

Truthfully, it doesn't take me long to know exactly what to file there. First off my marriage. I can honestly say with every passing year, I am more and more in love with my husband. Being married to Neal is my very best blessing. I love him more than chocolate, and I know whatever challenges we face, we face together as a team, and nowadays, a happy healthy marriage is harder to find than it used to be, and so I can without a doubt file that under success.

I look at my three rambunctious kids and think about all the days they drive me crazy and make me want to pull my hair out. Then I think about the fact that I have this amazing 16-year-old son who loves the Lord and has the heart to serve and care for kids, about how he chooses to live a clean in godly life despite the fact that he is surrounded by temptation and evil constantly, and I realize, he's not forcing me to pull most of those hairs out after all. Then I think about my 9-year-old son who does a poor job of speaking sarcasm and can get himself into trouble on occasion with his mouth, but the same mouth that occasionally misfires says the sweetest prayers of any person I have ever known. I think pf all the times we have been praying for someone and somehow through some supernatural discernment well beyond his knowledge or understanding, he will pray the exact perfect words for someone he may not even know. And I think about my daughter who while sitting around our advent table these last few weeks has taken the burden upon herself to pray for the salvation of the girls in her gymnastics class. I think about her song writing, as her heart just seems to burst forth in worship for her savior, and I think about the contagious joyful laughter she has that I know is a gift from God. My kids? I think they definitely get filed under successes, or at the very least, successes and victories in progress.

This past year, I have had the continued privilege to invest in Jake's friends through our bible study/ small group called Envision. Watching those boys come into my home and worship and share the Word together, honing their skills in teaching and encouraging them to seek the Lord above all else? Total success. And a privilege and joy greater than I can begin to describe.

This year I also had the awesome privilege to be involved in a couple of wonderful ladies' groups. I got involved with 11 other friends and we started a Bunco group. Ok, so maybe Bunco doesn't sound profoundly spiritual, but I think about the times when we stopped and prayed together and the hours on end we laughed together and encouraged one another, and I KNOW that bunco groups are a gift from God. So bunco? SUCCESS! And we also started a Facebook connected social group as well called the Grown Up Girls. It doesn't come across as the most super spiritual grouping, we have moves days, and girls' nights in, we've had lunches together and exercise walks in groups, nothing particularly profound, yet I know it has fed my spirit, and the spirit of many other women. It's brought ladies to church, and created new friendships, it has made our big church seem a little smaller when all of a sudden women are seeing women there that they met in a social aspect, and suddenly both feel a little more welcome, a little more at home, just a little bit more a part of thing. The Grown Up Girls? Definitely filed under successes.

Also under the success side of things I would file several friendships that grew to a deeper level. A woman who took time to mentor me, a woman who studied the word with me and a woman who intertwined her family with mine more intimately, success, success, success.

So as I step back and really look things over, I see something GLARING from the success side of the scale. It's people. People are what matter. Relationships are what really count. What matters most is what I have done with the relationships in my life.

So often in life I feel like such a failure as a Christian. Too many days when I am short-tempered, or my mind wanders from where it should. I stumble, some days it seems, all day long.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) That's what Jesus said. And although I have no doubt there have been many, many times I have failed to reflect that love in the lives around me, I also know, I have at times managed to reflect it. Success!

I don't mean this in any kind of prideful proclamation. I know I fall short all the time, but I have hope, because if the successes in my life are related to my relationships, than I at least know I am on the right path. At least some of this Christianity deal is actually sinking in. I may trip on it often, but I am at least on the proper path. And thankfully, I know if I'm on the path, the Lord will get me to the destination.

"The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand."

Psalm 37:23-24

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

The fact is, I've kind of lost count of exactly how many years I've been on this path with the Lord. It's not quite 20, I think I've settled so far somewhere in between 18 and 19 years since I recommitted my heart and life to the Lord. I have far from walked a perfect path, but I have somehow managed to stay on it, and that is without a doubt my greatest success and victory in my life. And truth be told, it's the only victory that really matters. It permanently tips the scale of life for every year, because if I have Jesus, I have everything I need.

As I look forward to 2011 and try to evaluate what I want for the year to come, the answer is simple, I want more of Him. I want to seek Him and pursue Him, and continue to grow in Him. I want to fall more in love with Him and learn more about Him. I want to continue on this path where the reality is, there is always more of Him to be found. There is always more of Him to experience. And there is always more of Himself that He wants to reveal to me.

So as I look toward 2011, I know my hope for the year to come. It's not a goal or a resolution even, just a fulfilling of the call the Lord placed on my hart in the first place. I want to be obedient to His command for my life.

Jesus said to him, “
‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:37-39

The fact of the matter is, relationships are what matter most. First and foremost my relationship with the Lord, and secondly with the people He places in my life. If all cylinders are firing properly then the other relationships in my life will benefit from my relationship with Him. It's the way things are meant to work.

So my 2011 is looking pretty promising. Not because I have some diet in mind, or a new membership to a gym. It's not because I have the magic budget prepared that will finally get me out of debt or because I am going to finally write that book that will make me a million. None of those things are what are waiting for me in 2011 to make sure the scale tips toward victory and success in 2011. What gives me hope and promises me victory in the year to come is the Lord. Just as surely as He is with me and beside me now, He is waiting for me in the future. He standing outside of time has it all under control. I do not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future, and I know He's for me, and has good plans for me. He's going to love me, and I'm going to love Him back to the best of my ability, and together, we're going to love others together, and 2011 will be one heaven of a year, no matter what it may bring.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our[a] faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:2-5

In Jesus' name, I pray

Friday, December 17, 2010

Not Lord at All

I am extremely frustrated with myself tonight. These last few days my eating has been out of control. In 2010 I lost 17 lbs between January and July, and since September I have put on about 20. I'm sitting here with my pants feeling way too tight, my stomach distended. I'm so unhappy with the failure, and extremely disappointed in myself.

We had a fast back in September, and I fasted for the full length of days that the pastor called us to. I went without eating and honestly had a very good time seeking the Lord. I lost 9 lbs that week, and after I gained them back, I gained the additional 11.

I was disappointed with myself when I put the 9 that came off during the fast back on. I didn't do the fast for the purpose of losing the weight, I don't think that ever really works. But when I gained it back, I sort of excised it. It was logical because you don't keep off weight lost like that. I was still 37 lbs down from my total weight loss. When I gained another 4, I still gave myself grace, blinding myself to the problem.

That was 7 lbs ago. Now I'm only 25 lbs down from my original weight, and the way I have been eating the last few days, I am afraid to get on the scale, because I am afraid I am going to find myself 20 lbs ahead of an important milestone I had worked so hard to reach, and all the work I have basically undone.

Now, for all of you who are reading this and formulating your advice to me about what I should or should not do to get back on track and get the weight back off. Forgive me, but I am not at all interested in hearing it. Because you see, what I know, is at the root of all this is not a physical issue, but a spiritual one. And it's not counting fat grams or getting more exercise that is the problem, it is far deeper and I know that the breakthrough I need is supernatural, not natural.

Part of me wonders if the spiritual "success" of the fast in September didn't somehow stir my flesh to rise up against my spirit in rebellion. It seems like I have been struggling with all kinds of temptation since then, and my eating is just the most obvious area of failure and struggle.

I wonder if this is what being sifted is like? Maybe that's what is happening? The enemy is tempting, and my spirit isn't strong enough to stand firm and resist. I think part of the problem is, as much as I am feeding my body, I am starving my spirit. My prayer time, my time in the word, my time just abiding in Him, all of it is lacking. I think it's a direct path into a vicious circle. I feed my flesh, my spirit wanes. I don't feed my spiritual hunger and my flesh rises higher, further smothering my spirit.

I find myself tempted a lot lately. My mouth, my eyes, my thoughts, they're all prone to wander, and lately, reigning them back in feels like a full time job. I seem to be "getting by" in most of the areas, but when it has come to food, I have not only failed, but I have let my flesh thrive. Even when I sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit, desiring abundant life for me, trying to pull me back, or turn me away, instead of responding, I seem to run even further down the wrong road. Instead of having a piece of cake I don't need, I eat the cake and a cupcake and top it off with a piece of candy too. All the while stuffing my body, smothering my spirit and sending myself further into discouragement. It keeps me from doing the things I need to do, and instead, I sit on the couch with a pint of ice cream, compounding the problem.

Why? "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41b)

It's interesting to me that even Jesus was tempted after a fast. (Matthew 4) Unfortunately I have not shown either the wisdom or strength of character and spirit that he did when the enemy came to tempt Him. And while I can give myself the grace that I am in fact, not God, I also cannot excuse myself from allowing the enemy to have his way with me as I have. The fact is, he only has the power to tempt, and the temptation isn't effective until I give into it. And I have so severely given into it.

Some people might offer me grace, "we all struggle with eating," or "it's just food," but honestly, I know it's a cop out. Maybe I'm not being promiscuous, or doing drugs or drinking, but overeating has become the acceptable sin these days, and it's just symptomatic of my entire spiritual state. I am completely out of balance.

As I sit here and feel the pants that a few months ago began to get loose squeezing my middle, I wonder how much further I will fall before I do whatever it is I need to do to stop it. Yesterday I woke up and determined, that nothing would cross my lips without seeking the Lord. And when I "determined it," I meant nothing would go in OR come out of my mouth without seeking Him first.

My day went very badly though, and my stress level, dealing with medical insurance and complicated medical billing issues, rose hard and fast. And I completely responded in my flesh, and went straight for the chocolate, excessive amounts of chocolate. And it was like opening a flood gate, not only to what I ate, but to what I allowed to come out. I lost my cool and lost control as the day continued to get more difficult. You give the flesh a little power, and it demands more. And if your spirit is weak, and wan like mine has been, the aftermath is just ugly. And the saddest thing, is not only am I basically doing it to myself, but I am the one who suffers the consequences. But unfortunately, I don't suffer them alone, because when my mouth unleashes, it hurts people around me.

Temptation crosses over into sin, and as much as I would like to belittle away my inability to say no to food, what I am not saying "no" to is so much bigger. And it doesn't stop at just not saying "no," because what I am really doing is saying yes, yes to the temptation, yes to the sin, yes to the enemy, and all of those things add up to a gigantic "NO" to the Lord.

I have said a thousand times, "if He is not Lord OF all, then He is not Lord AT all." And I have to face the fact, that lately, I have not allowed Him to be Lord of my life. He is still my Savior, but I am not submitting to Him as Lord. Ouch. The fact is, I have knocked the Lord right off of the throne of my life.

I'm floundering. Like a fish out of water, I am struggling to breathe, and too weak to fight. I AM a fish out of water that these waters are not where I belong. As a believer, a child of the King, I should be in the pool of submission and obedience instead of stuck on the shore of struggle and sin, gasping. I took the bait and the enemy fished me out of living water for the purpose of my death and destruction, and it's time for me to be thrown back in.

I need to be swimming, fully submerged in living waters. I need to drown myself in the Word of God and in His presence. I need to swim deeper and deeper until the hooks and bait can't even reach me.

When Jesus was tempted, He responded with Truth. The Word flowed right out of Him, and it pushed the enemy away. No matter how appealing the temptation, Jesus had the wisdom not to trade the truth for a lie. And that's the place I need to get back to.

Chocolate isn't going to bring me comfort or peace. Only the Lord has what I need. He doesn't just have the answers, He IS the answer. He is my comfort, hope and strength. I need to starve my flesh and feed my spirit. I need the bread of life.

I need to put the Lord back on the throne of my life. I don't need to count fat grams, or steps. I don't need to monitor every bite I put in my mouth, what I need is to seek Him.

I need to lay everything else aside and place Him back on the throne where He belongs. I need Him to be Lord. I need to let Him be Lord, and allow Him to bring the balance in my life that I need, in Jesus name.

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 9:9-10

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

Psalm 19:7-8

But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Psalm 103:17-19

Father, You are Lord of all.
Be Lord of me and of my life, in Jesus' name.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Decorating for CHRISTmas

It's an interesting holiday season. This Christmas is different than any other Christmas before. Like in many (dare I say most?) homes, finances are a bigger issue than ever before. As of the night before last, all Santa-belief has been put to rest (which actually is a relief for me since the finances are tight.) It's a very "reality based" kind of Christmas this year.

In years past when money was on the tighter side, I would run out in foolishness and run up the credit cards to fill the space beneath the tree. I'm not saying there are no credit cards involved in this Christmas, but there is a great deal more restraint than there has been before. And we don't even have a Christmas tree yet.

Until today, the only Christmas decoration out was the Advent wreath I created as a centerpiece for our kitchen table a couple of weeks ago. We've found ourselves seated around that wreath every night since two Sundays ago reading scripture and praying together. A lot of nights (most nights?) it's been much more chaotic than I have cared for. The night before last, in fact, I got up and walked away, not even finishing the process because of the arguing about who could light the candle and who could pray first. Lots of rudeness and one-up-manship. It's made me extremely frustrated with my children. The other night I even posted on Facebook that I found myself not even liking my kids. And I meant it. "I love them always," it said, but I don't always like them. They're so. very. HUMAN...

Today was my husband's day to edge towards his limit. He is well known in our neighborhood for his outdoor decorations, and here it is the 11th of December and he didn't even have any up. So this morning we had a goal of him getting the outdoor decorations done, then late afternoon we would go and get our tree and tonight while he is away getting his sleep apnea test done, I would put the lights on the tree (my single job of decorating.) But it didn't happen that way.

The kids who have driven me crazy at our Advent table most nights, drove their dad crazy with the fighting and arguing in the outdoor decorating process. I just sat in the house watching movies doing laundry and never even got out my pajamas. I listened from inside, at the arguing, at the yelling, at my husband's frustration rising. So much for the holiday cheer.

This morning, I woke thinking about my favorite Christmas carol, "Joy to the World." I really love the song, and last night I had a great evening out with a group of amazing ladies and we listened to a wonderful message about JOY. It talked about JOY being about Loving Jesus, Loving Others and Loving Yourself. And the speaker spoke about the importance of "Woohooo choosin' JOY!" For someone who has been struggling with her feelings lately, they were words of life, sage advice.

So this morning, as I lay in bed thinking about the song, the line that kept running over and over in my mind was this, "Let every heart prepare Him room..."

"Let every heart prepare Him room..."

This is what we are lacking. We've had a lot of TALK around here about how this Christmas, we're, due to lack of "stuff," going to make the holidays more about Jesus. I cringe when I say that, but if we're honest, I'm sure most of us (if not all) have found ourselves getting caught up in the shopping, the spending, the decorating, the wrapping, even the celebrating, and doing it without giving Jesus a place, much less making him the center of our activities.

I have found myself happily anticipating a Christmas less "stuff-centered." I haven't been missing the crazed shopping (though I am somewhat stressing some about the one child who has NOTHING ready to go under the tree). And yet, even with that anticipation, I don't actually see us in a very CHRISTmas mindset.

"Let every heart prepare Him room..."

We seriously need to decorate for Christmas. But it isn't the eaves outside, or even a tree in the living room that we need to be concerning ourselves with. We need to be decorating our hearts for the holidays.

I grew up in a house where my mom was extremely particular about her decorating. The tree in her home was artwork. Every light and ornament strategically placed. Every detail was given great care and focus. When I was little, I wasn't allowed to help, or even touch an ornament really. I have happy memories of watching my mom, but also the memories are a little stressful, I had to be careful where I sat, and where I walked. I would sit in awe while she created her masterpiece.

As an adult now, probably in rebellion to what I grew up with, and knowing I could never even come close to decorating a tree in the league of my mother I have gone to the extreme opposite. I don't put the ornaments on our tree. My children do it, and when they were little it would mean all the ornaments hung on the bottom half. And my husband does it, which means when we put it in the corner, there aren't any ornaments on the back side at all. When I was a youth leader my girls even did it, which meant it didn't have any of my style at all. But it's always been ok with me. The only part I take responsibility for is putting the lights on the tree, that job alone is mine, and has been for 20 years.

When Neal and I first got married and got our first tree we bought a noble fir. It was my family's tradition, but not his, but it didn't seem like a Christmas tree to me with out the beautiful branches that stood apart. When we got it home he started to put the lights on. He just circled the tree with them like he was playing "Here we go 'round the maypole," leaving all the wires in plain view. It was too much for me. I found there were 2 things that mattered to me when it came to decorating for Christmas, that the tree stood with beauty, and that nothing distracted from the lights, that they shone beautifully as though they were coming from deep inside the tree. It's my favorite part of Christmas, or at least the preparation of Christmas. I love to sit late at night after I finish putting all the lights on (because I always finish it late at night), and I just sit and admire the tree with the lights before any of them are obscured by the decorations. (This is the picture from last year.)

"Let every heart prepare Him room..."

Tonight I was supposed to be doing that job, putting the lights on a beautiful tree. But our day didn't go as planned and so we don't have our tree yet. Instead I am sitting here writing to any of you who are willing to stop by for the read, and the thought keeps running through my mind.

"Let every heart prepare Him room..."

I want to be that beautiful tree. I want to stand in a noble fashion. I want the Light in me to stand out in beauty, nothing detracting from it. I don't want the Light that shines in me to be all tangled up in stuff. I want instead for the Light to make me shine, in a way that celebrates CHRISTmas.

So tonight as I sit here, instead of putting lights on a tree, I am pondering the ways that I can more clearly decorate my heart for CHRISTmas.

These last two nights as we have gathered around the Advent wreath in prayer, my prayer has been one of repentance for my whole family. We're missing it, we are missing the anticipation of CHRISTmas, not of the gifts under the tree or a special fancy meal, but the anticipation of remembering and celebrating what this holiday is really all about.

We may not be anticipating a visit from Santa anymore, but in faith, I am praying that the true CHRISTmas Spirit will settle here, in our home, and even more importantly in our hearts. I hope that I can be a catalyst, and that my husband and children's hearts will be captured with this same desire.

"Let every heart prepare Him room..."

Lord, let our home be filled with "trees" that shine Your Light, and celebrate You this season... in Jesus' name...

Monday, December 6, 2010



The heart weighs heavy inside of the soul,

Caught in the midst of what only God can control.

Never is the power really in the strength of our hands,

Never is it more evident than when we can't understand.

Grief is an ache that words can't describe.

Like wearing our heart on the outside.

The world keeps on moving while we're standing still,

Life keeps on moving but it feels so surreal.

The emotional waves ebb back, then flow to abound,

The storm of unanswered questions continually resound.

Yet in the midst of the questions and all of the pain,

There in the midst of it, Jesus remains.

His shoulder to cry on, and His hand there to hold,

Keeping His promise, just as we were told.

Forsake us not ever, never once will He leave,

Jesus, so faithful, holds on as we grieve.

Hold tightly back and look straight in His face,

For in the midst of the grief is where we'll find grace.

Grace for the loss, the questions and ache that we feel,

And this is where we find the Hope that is real.

- Diana DePriest
© December 5, 2010

Dedicated to the Deight Family

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Lately I have been feeling a lot like I've been trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together without the top of the box for reference. I have all these pieces, but because I can't see the big picture, I am having a very hard time figuring out what to do, where to start.

I feel the frustration level that rises from it at times. It makes me feel restless, even anxious at times. It's like I know I am supposed to be doing something, I can even narrow it down to the proverbial "puzzle" itself, but I just don't know where to start.

It isn't like the "picture" of the puzzle is obvious either, no simple picture to catch a glimpse of. It's more like some sort of abstract expressionistic painting with all kinds of shapeless colors blended together. I feel like I am sitting with all these puzzle pieces, and I can't begin to know how to link it together into whatever the puzzle's designer intended.

I love my life, but there are parts of it that feel like are out of order, as though I should be doing something different than what I am. The problem is, I don't know what I should be doing.

My family life is good. I am madly in love with my husband, and though marriage is always challenging on some level, I cannot complain. I like my marriage, I like my husband and have no complaints. Parenting is the same, my kids are far from perfect, which works out well since my parenting isn't perfect either, but I don't have any real complaints in the big picture of things, youthful irresponsibility, and childishness, but over all, life there is pretty good. The wife and mom thing, they're going OK, cannot complain.

I'm not so foolish either to think that life should be something too much bigger than that. If I never do anything in my life but love and care for my husband and kids, then I will have done plenty if I do it well, but still there is this yearning, like there is more to be done.

It isn't a dangerous longing, it's not drawing away from my God, or my family, but it's perpetual, never seems to cease. If anything, I feel like it is a longing placed in my heart by God, to be used of Him, to make an impact for His kingdom, but it just makes it all the more confusing and frustrating when I feel like I can't figure it out. It just seems like if it's His idea, there should be some direction, a glimpse at the top of the box to know what direction we're moving in. I want to know what direction I'm supposed to be moving in, but I don't know where to go.

I know the gifts God has given me. I long to use them. I long to speak and preach His word. I know God has created in me the heart of an encourager. I do my best to do that here on my blog, but honestly it feels like it falls short. The last thing I heard Him speak to me though was "write," so I write. But I still long.

At times there is hope in the longing. I believe God has placed it there, so I hope in Him for the direction to fulfill it. Other times, the longing seems to go on so long and I tiptoe around the old neighborhood of depression. Suddenly my heart gets heavy and low, and I wonder if I missed something. I wonder if I have somehow done or not done something to hinder the plan. I wonder if I've lost a few pieces of the puzzle so that the picture will never come together the way it's supposed to.

Circling depression is a difficult place to be. Emotions have too much power there. Visibility is poor. When you're in that place it's very hard to see past yourself, and the false trinity of "me, myself and I" takes precedence over the true God, the one who has the top of the puzzle box memorized, because He is the one who designed it.

I've been doing the Beth Moore bible study "Breaking Free" and the lesson this past week was about girlhood dreams. It talked about the four dreams God has placed in the heart of every little girl: (1) to be a bride; (2) to be beautiful; (3) to be fruitful; and (4) to live happily ever after.

I scored well in the bride department, and although I don't know if I would describe myself as beautiful, I am much more satisfied with myself than not, and in the last few years I have become comfortable in my own skin. I am struggling with the other two dreams though.

Fruitfulness talked about our desire for children, and about how beyond the children of the physical sense, there are children in the spiritual sense. I have in my life felt a lot like a "spiritual mom" to some. And recently I have felt some loss in that area, I do know that at least for seasons I have been effective in that sense. It is difficult to lose in that way, but I hope that it will come full circle, and sometimes I am pleasantly surprised when seeds from long ago still bear fruit many seasons later. I hope for that to happen again.

As for happily ever after, well, that's a different story. Right now happiness seems evasive. There are many circumstances in my life that are happening that I am not happy with, and since happiness is all about happenings, it can be a tough row to hoe. Thankfully I have joy in my life, which abides even when happiness eludes, but it doesn't make feeling unhappy any easier.

I feel stuck in the puzzle box right now. It isn't fun. I cannot for the life of me figure out exactly what I should be doing, where I should go next, how to put together the pieces in my hand.

Thankfully, my hope is not in the puzzle. It's not even in the puzzle "doer" (me). Thankfully the hope I have is in the Puzzle Designer, who is a Virtuoso. Every puzzle He has designed is a one of a kind masterpiece. It is a beautiful work of art, pre-designed before anyone ever opened the box. I suspect perhaps that it was the Designer Himself who hid the top of the box from me.

I don't know why He hides the top of the box, but I am certain it is for His good purpose. Maybe it's because He is more interestd in us partnering with Him in its unfolding rather than trying to run ahead and put it together the way we see fit. Maybe it's because He doesn't want us to follow our own plan for putting it together, to be set in stone about "doing the edges first," because He has a more masterful way of bringing all the pieces together.

I'm not saying it makes it any easier or less frustrating to be holding the pieces, but if I can focus on the Designer rather than the design, I know I can count on all the pieces coming together in the perfect way, in the perfect time, and when the masterpiece is unveiled, it will have been worth every moment of the process.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Disposable Generation

I have such a passion for young people. I look at the generations behind me, and it fills me with hope. As a mom, the weightiness of the importance of training up the next generation, grips my soul. But the burden I carry falls far beyond the three the Lord placed in my home. It stretches out into the lives of their friends, their classmates, the entire generation.

I look at the young people God has placed in my life, and I am amazed by the unrefined potential I see. They have the world by the tail, and they don't even know it. They are in a place in life where their "what if's" are still full of possibility, not yet ventured into the land of "if only's" and regret. As the old saying goes, "the world is their oyster," and the pearl in side waits to be discovered.

I look at this fine young generation, and I see HOPE.

And can I be very plain and say, it is not just in the kids I know that I see this potential and promise? I find myself often out in "the world" and I will be gazing on a young person who is a total stranger to me, and the overwhelming sense of possibility in their life. I have literally had to restrain myself from being the crazy old lady, walking over to some poor kid I don't know and gripping him by the shoulder to say, "YOU'RE SPECIAL!!" For fear they'll look back at me and think I'm the special one, but not in the complimentary sense I meant it to them.

I remember one day sitting in the drive-thru at Taco Bell there was a small crowd of youth sitting in the back of a pick up truck, hanging out. They weren't the clean cut crowd that I am (thankfully) most familiar with my own kids, and I remember thinking to myself, if the police drove by and saw them sitting outside the liquor store they were socializing in front of, it's likely they would have been asked to disperse. They were covered in piercings and tattoos, a couple of them smoking. I could hear a few swear words peppering their conversation. Truthfully, they didn't look like they were up to any good, but as I sat watching them from my car, I was overwhelmed with love for them.

It was clear as I saw them, who were the natural leaders, who were the followers. I saw one young girl who was truly stunning in her appearance, but I saw insecurity on her face. I am not always the people watcher, but I was sincerely drawn to watch this crowd. I wanted to go over and tell them, "Jesus loves you," because honestly, I wasn't sure they knew, but I'm sad to say, I chickened out.

I'm not sure most young people these days know that truth. It breaks my heart.

Often I have found that as I watch a group of young people in their "natural habitat," you get one impression looking from the distance, and an entirely different perception when you stop and look more closely. So often when I stop and look a little more closely, when I look into the eyes of a young person, where I hope to find the light and life that is the potential and promise of the future, what I actually see there is hopelessness, fear, even despair. If you look closely, what you see is a hurting generation.

Sigh. I am struggling to write this blog. My heart is bursting, I want to grab every person I know and shake them by the shoulders. I want the full attention of every person I know to shout "WARNING!!" "Wake up!"

A week ago, I reconnected with an old classmate from Facebook. Within the first 24 hours of us being friends there, it was obvious that something major and tragic had happened in her world. Via private message, she confirmed my suspicion and let me know that one of her sons' friends had taken his own life.

Because curious is my nature, I did some searching online, and found information through google about the young man. And by appearances, he was the kind of kid who seemed to have it all. And yet somehow, somewhere along the line, despite what things may have appeared, hopelessness set in, and this young man, a high school student decided that suicide was his only option. I remember thinking to myself, how tough that must be as a mom, to try to comfort your kids when something so tragic hits so close to home.

Teen suicide has been in the news a lot lately. Several celebrities have decided to step up and speak out against this horrible tragedy, that unfortunately does seem to have a contagious aspect to it. I was talking with my sister-in-law a little while ago, and she was talking about how she has seen in her own experience how the suicide of one person will encourage another to try the same. I see it like this, the hopelessness, can become epidemic, to the point that people are driven to desperate actions to alleviate the pain of what they feel.

What really kills me, is that hopelessness is a lie. The fact of the matter is, anywhere there is life, hope still remains. Unfortunately, that hope is often easily overshadowed by circumstance and emotion, and sometimes no matter how true the truth may be, it doesn't matter if we refuse to believe it.

Boy is the a mouthful.

Sadly, the liberal media has only focused on a particular side and demographic of the teen suicide, but the truth is, it's far further spread than it's being noted. It isn't just young gays being bullied who are buying into the lie that suicide is an answer. Kids from all sorts of walks of life are buying into the deception.

Deception? Yes, deception. And let me just say, it is a HUGE campaign of deception that runs far deeper than our children's current circumstance. In my estimation, the root of it begins in the great misconception that life is optional.

I used to, on occasion, have the opportunity to speak publicly on the topic of abortion. Since not ling after my birth, every child became a choice. I suppose you could hope for that to be a good thing, each child believing they were wanted since they won't aborted, but I think the ripple effect of that fact plays out differently than we would like it to. Instead of speaking to the value of the individual, it speaks far more loudly to the devaluing of life as a whole.

Kids these days don't think they matter, and if you look at all that the world is speaking to them, you can sort of understand why they feel that way. For 27+ years, abortion on demand has not only been a viable choice, but a common one. When I have had the opportunity to speak to youth groups, I have often pointed out to them, that for every two of them that are sitting there, there is a third child whose life was ended by abortion. I'd like the silver lining of that to be that each one of them would feel chosen, but I think what it truly speaks to their soul is that their own lives were optional, and that very sentiment is prevalent in our nation.

Compound that information with the propaganda about "quality of life." I remember a decade ago when Jack Kevorkian was in the news all the time. His nickname was "Dr. Death" because he proclaimed himself the champion of the "right to die" cause. That was when the "quality of life" mentality came to the forefront. Life ceased to be inherently valuable, and how much a life mattered became a judgment call.

I can hear the attitudes rising already, I can hear the arguments about ending suffering, and dying with dignity, I've made them all myself. When I was a senior in high school I took a speech class and we had an assignment to do a persuasive speech, and for some reason or another, I chose the topic of euthanasia, and I took the argument for it. And I made an excellent case. My biggest memory was after the speech. One of my classmates came up to me and told me how she had always thought of euthanasia as wrong, but after listening to my speech, she had reconsidered. At the time I felt really good about it, looking back now, it's one of my greatest regrets.

But at that time in my life, I used to buy into the lie. I believed life's value was subjective and not inherent. The problem with that perception is that defining quality does not naturally narrow, but rather widens. It may start with the narrow defintion of the a terminal patient sentenced to death by a diagnosis. That's when they call it a "mercy killing." Sounds nicer that way, doesn't it? We do that to our animals after all, we "put them down" to stop their suffering, and the argument is made about compassion for people. But the definition inevitably broadens. The point is proven in the case of abortion. Many children first wanted are "terminated" when a diagnosis comes forward about an unborn baby. And let us never dwell on the fact that it's called practicing medicine for a reason. I personally know at least 3 children who were born against their doctor's advice - perfectly healthy.

The argument is against suffering. Well, let's be real, nobody wants to suffer. But how exactly do we define suffering? There are all kinds of pain, and everyone has a different threshold for it. And if we think it's ok to make drastic decisions based on physical suffering, why should we exclude emotional or spiritual pain? And the "quality of life" becomes more and more subjective, harder to define.

We'd like to believe that this kind of mentality won't touch our own, but it's become so ingrained in the fabric of our society, that we don't even realize the mentality is pervasive, particularly in the hearts and minds of young people. Add to this all the other challenges of just being a teenager, and the mentality is toxic. It's like a horrible poison an entire generation has been exposed to, and you never know in whom it will suddenly become toxic. Add to that the uncertain days we live in, and it feels like a ticking time bomb.

The bible talks about how the shedding of innocent blood will not go unpunished. When I hear that proclaimed by pro-life groups, sometimes I want to look around anxiously waiting for the hammer of God to come down and fall upon us. And honestly, with my own testimony, and knowing the truth about what abortion is and the effect it has I find it completely reasonable for God to hit us hard. But I think also that the mentality that has been created about life's value being subjective is a reaping of what has been sown as a nation for almost 28 years. The generation of young people around us has grown up with an unspoken knowledge that every single one of them was, in fact, completely disposable.

Kids don't know they matter. They think there value comes from how they affect the world. They don't understand that the world is affected because they exist. The "world" doesn't speak to them being created for a purpose. Add to this a time of great change and confusion in their teen years, and a door is opened to question if life is really worth it.

My heart aches at how short I am falling at getting out the words I want to right now. It's all a lot of intellectual mumbo jumbo trying to explain a deeply emotional subject matter. It makes me want to scream.

Yeah, that's it. I want to go get a megaphone and climb up to the highest hill I can find and start screaming out to every young person who can hear me, "YOU MATTER!!! GOD LOVES YOU!!! YOU WEREN'T AN ACCIDENT!!! YOUR LIFE IS IMPORTANT!!!"

Too many of them aren't hearing it. Even when it's being said, it's falling on deaf ears. The truth of their purpose and promise is being overshadowed by circumstance and emotion. When it goes on long enough, hopelessness sets in.

Hopelessness is a lie from the very pit of hell. Where there is life there is always, always, ALWAYS hope. No matter what the insurmountable seems to be, if there is life, there is hope.

I found out today that teen suicide touched our own youth group. It broke my heart. I know the leaders of our youth group. I know they proclaim the truth to our kids. I know they love and value every single child that walks through the door, and I know they express it to our kids. And still....

What do we do? How do we help? It makes the situation seem hopeless, but I know, where there is life, there is hope.

We have to reach out to this generation. We have to speak to them the truth of their preciousness, not because of what they do, but because of who they are. There is so much to overcome in proclaiming that truth to hurting hearts, we have to silence the world, we have to silence their own hurts and emotions. We have to silence circumstance and pain. We have to.

Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed my own teenager by the shoulders today. My wonderful, well-adjusted, in love with Jesus 16-year old, I looked him straight in the eyes and said, "You know that's not the right choice right?" Confidently he assured me, of course he did; but I would be a fool to think my family untouchable by this disease that is permeating our culture.

I've never heard of a family hit by this devestation respond with "oh yeah, we totally saw it coming." It doesn't happen that way. It is always shocking. It is never expected. Loved ones are left behind searching through missed clues drowning in a regret of what is no one's fault... and everyone's fault.

We must find a way to impart to our children their preciousness. They've got to get it. They have to understand. They weren't accidents or mistakes. They matter. God loves them. We have to love them.

My heart is heavy because I feel like I have failed to say what so desperately needs to be said here. I want to grab every young person I know like I did my son today, all of them, even those who seem to be cruising just fine. I want to look them in the eyes and see the light and life of the hope, promise and potential that lives inside them. I want to take a bat and beat away every lie that speaks against it.

I want to tell them how God has a plan. I want to tell them how he knit them together in the womb. Every talent and gift, every weakness and struggle, their emotional make up, their appearance, the way their brain works and doesn't, all a purposeful stitch in the Master's plan for the masterpiece each one of them is meant to be. EACH. ONE. OF. THEM.

If I could go back to that day in the Taco Bell drive-thru, I think I would have shouted out across the parking lot, or even driven over and parked alongside them to say, "Hey, you matter. Do you know God loves you? Your life has a purpose." And even as they probably would have laughed me off, at least I would know they'd heard it at least once in their lives. And oh how I pray it wouldn't be the only time.

I don't know what I am to do with this breaking in my heart. I know I am going to sow in my own kids the truth of their preciousness as best I can. I will do my best to speak to God's love for them, and His purpose for their lives and hope if I do it often enough, it will drown out the lies that speak against it.

But I have to say, it's everything I can do right now not to go out and buy a megaphone and find a hill. Those of us who know the truth have got to speak it, because if we don't, the truth is, there are many who may never hear, and the fact is, the enemy of our souls is determined to take down them all, even the ones who have heard the truth.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Spent much of the past weekend and early part of this week painfully aware of my eyes. When I woke up before the 5K last Saturday, my left eye was crusted shut. I had to go in and clean off the gobbly gook off of it with a warm wash cloth, but even after I did, my left eye looked rather sickly. It just looked off, it wasn't red, or even a hot pink, but the white of my eye wasn't white at all.

I pulled up "pink eye" on google to peruse some photos, and my eye didn't look nearly as bad as the wealth of pictures that popped up on my screen. I pulled down my lower lid, it didn't have an exceptionally bright color either, but all day long, my eye just seemed to run and run with a clear watery substance. It was constant.

As I went to the 5K, I thought about my eye.

As I walked the 5K, I thought about my eye.

At Ethan's two soccer games I thought about my eye, and about my foot, because it had a big painful blister from a bad sock choice in my shoe for the 5K.

That evening while I sat cuddled with my kids at the drive-in, I was constantly thinking about my eye, and my feet.

Sunday morning I woke up and my first thought was to my again crusted eye and my very sensitive feet. As I made my way to the bathroom to clean out the guck this time, I was mindful of every step I took to get there. And as I spent the day going to church and going to the movies with friends, constantly, my mind focused, again and again, on my eye and my feet.

I discovered something interesting while my eye seemed to be an issue for me, it was also an issue in my home. My oldest son was a little freaked out by the thought that I might have pink eye. He fell short of actually throwing holy water at me while making cross motions, but it was very clear, he didn't want to take any chances of catching anything from his mom. (I knew he was a freak about stomach viruses, had no idea he felt the same way about a little eye bug.)

By Monday morning my left eye seemed better, but now my right eye was bothering me a little. When I woke up they were both a little runny and a little crusty. Thankfully, my feet didn't hurt anymore, but now I was worried about what was spreading to my second eye.

I decided a trip to the doctor would be a good idea. I called and made an appointment but they couldn't see me till 11:30. I went ahead to work, and my co-worker wasn't at all happy I was there. He, like Jake, kept a wide berth between us because he was worried about exposure. He's not quite as retentive as my son. His wife is facing major surgery soon, and knowing he'll be her primary caretaker, he didn't want to take any chances for her sake.

By the time my appointment was actually approaching, I started to question whether or not I should even go. Almost all the pink had faded, the runniness seemed to have subsided, and I started to think my doctor would wonder why I was even there. But for the sake of my co-worker, his ailing wife, my children, especially the worried one, I decided I should just go check things out.

By the time the doctor came in, he could barely see what I was referring to. He said I probably did have conjunctivitis, but that in his estimation, I was on the road to recovery, and there was no point in treating it medically. It was probably viral, and I was close to having the whole episode behind me. So I left the doctor's office $75 poorer, but with little else to show for it. Except for the spiritual lesson that continually ran through my mind, the entire time I was so very aware of my eyes and my feet.

I thought it interesting how my son's focus suddenly became so profound on his own eyes, when mine were not fully healthy, and I thought to myself, "I hope he is as aware of the risks to his spiritual eyes, as he is of his physical ones." Because I happen to be certain that he is constantly surrounded by people whose spiritual eyes are far more infected than my physical ones were.

Likewise, I questioned my awareness of my own eyes and feet, as well as those around me. I suddenly became very aware of how my eyes had an ability to have a negative effect on those around me. I was a little toxic, if you will, if I was at all contagious. But the worst I had to offer was maybe a week or two of sickness that would in fact be rather easily remedied with special drops.

How much more power is there to do harm to others with what I allow my eyes to see and where I allow my feet to go in the spiritual sense? Am I as constantly aware of the need to protect, and encourage my loved ones to protect their spiritual eyes and feet every day, as I was physically for those few?

Sometimes we get so caught up in our physical bodies, that we fail to remember we are not "bodies with spirits" but rather we are "spirits with bodies." And we so focus on the temporal when it is the spiritual and eternal that needs and deserves our attention.

I am convicted by how often I allow compromise in my life and what I allow my spiritual eyes to be exposed to. The things I watch on TV, or the movies I go and see. I dismiss them, as though somehow I am immune to the exposure, that it doesn't really matter when I allow things that are unhealthy for me to be seen, sometimes repeatedly.

It makes me think of the old nursery school song, one of the few I remember from when I was very little. "Oh be careful little eyes what you see..." it sings, and it goes on to sing to the ears about what they hear, and the mouth about what it speaks, even about the feet and where they go. It sings, "For the Father up above is looking down in love, of be careful little eyes what you see." This silly sing-song has a huge depth of truth to it that is worthy of being pondered.

Why do we dwell on a temporary physical risk to inconvenience far more than we concern ourselves with the care and protection of our eternal souls... and in the name of entertainment??

I have a bit of a reputation for being legalistic, and even above and beyond in my limitations to the movies I will go and see and the like, and I am often tempted to "lighten up" for the sake of the crowd, but I have sincerely felt like these couple of days while I was so aware of my physical eyes, that God was reminding me, that the spiritual ones are of far greater worth, for doesn't it even say in the bible that if our physical eye should stumble us, it is is better to pluck it out than continue in sin? Clearly, on God's scale, spiritual matters far outweigh the physical ones, and I just don't think I am willing to compromise for a few moments of enjoyment.

I love this passage of scripture, it is one of my favorites from the book of Proverbs, and it has been running through my mind continually this past week.

My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

Be careful...

Monday, November 15, 2010


I'm a word girl. I love a good one. You know the type that you can almost hear the definition in the pronunciation. I like the word "Impervious," and since it's the second time I've used it, I guess I'm going to declare it as my word of the day.

Not a word on your preferred vocab list perhaps? Let me share the definition with you, just in case. It means, "incapable of being penetrated; incapable of being affected." I love saying it, and when I do, I can almost hear MC Hammer and his anthem, "can't touch this." Love it.

What I don't love, is when people act like they've opened up their Thesaurus and sound the word "Christian" as its synonym, because let me make it very clear, I can assure you, it's not there.

Have you ever experienced what I'm talking about though? That attitude as though if you are a Christian, you should somehow be above the battles of life? You express a struggle, or a weakness, and you get this funny look, like all of a sudden they're trying to take your spiritual inventory? Maybe they've even been bold enough (or ignorant enough) to come right out and said it, "But I thought you were a Christian?" Maybe the person staring you down has even been in your very own mirror. You find yourself struggling or weak, battling, and then you look in the mirror and you question your own faith. You think, "I'm a Christian, I shouldn't feel, struggle, battle, worry or look like this..."

Forgive me, but it's ignorance. Whether you are speaking it to yourself, or someone else is speaking it to you, or even if you are the voice speaking it to another, it is, flat out - ignorance.

(Give me a second, let me adjust my soapbox, I don't want to take a tumble.)

I hear all the time, in the Christian community pulpits preaching about transparency. And yet when the theoretical becomes reality, suddenly so much of the body takes big steps back. So many in their discomfort pull back and step into that inventory mode, wondering why you, as a Christian, could possibly be (ahem) struggling.

I'm not talking about wandering distantly down the road of sin, make no mistake, but it could be a temptation, or depression, or anxiety, fear, an eating disorder, even suicidal thoughts. There are a long list of items that I will agree are in fact NOT on God's list for the abundant life He's promised us, but just because we have victory in Christ, does NOT mean we don't get battle wounds along the way.

My heart breaks for the believer who struggles in their humanness, and when they risk their heart and their reputation by opening up and confessing it, they are received with some pat answer or judgmental reply.

It makes me think of Job and his buddies in the Old Testament. He knew he wasn't in sin, and let's face it the guy was being sifted in a way none of us would ever volunteer for, and his friends did not respond in support or understanding, but rather in judgment.

I think of a very good friend of mine who recently found herself battling a deep dark depression. Now this woman wasn't some lukewarm Christian, she wasn't a lightweight by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, "pillar of the church" is the phrase that comes to mind when I think of her. She is a prayer warrior, a woman grounded deeply in the Word, and yet, she was hit with a deep dark bout of depression.

This woman who for nearly 30 years has walked faithfully with the Lord, loved Him, loved His people and loved His word got knocked for a loop, and people actually had the audacity to question her walk and her faith because she was overwhelmed with depression. Really?

Someone comes to us carrying this heavy, HEAVY boulder of burden. They are weary from carrying it, worn out from dragging it out before us, humiliated in the confession of it to us, vulnerable in the exposure of it, and our response is to add "rocks" to the top of it?

"Maybe you aren't praying enough."

"You need to read your bible more."

"Do you have sin in your life?"

"You MUST have sin in your life."

"I thought you were a Christian..."

Rock, after rock, after rock, making an already unbearable burden even heavier.

OK, go ahead, make your argument. Fear, anxiety, depression, maybe they are sin. Sin is anything that misses the mark that God has set for us, and clearly, these all fall short, but these are sins in our nature, not sins of our own intention or rebellion. Quite simply, we are flesh, and flesh fails, and these are the effects of it.

Galatians 6:1-3 says, "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves."

"Carry each other’s burdens..." The response to add to the weight is wrong. The response that is right, is to get up underneath that burden and help them lift it up.

Pray for them.

Fast for them.

Listen to them.

Love on them.

Support them.

Be silent, and be there.

Oh what comfort Job's friends could probably have brought in their silence.

Now, I know sometimes, dare I say (hope) that most times, the intentions are good of those who come with their responses. I really want to believe in their ignorance, they sincerely believe they are helping, even if they are sincerely wrong.

Maybe they're speaking out of experience. Maybe they battled some temptation, or emotional struggle, and deciding to turn on the praise music and read their bible every day at the same time every day was just what they needed to overcome their battle. PRAISE GOD FOR THEM! But don't be so foolish as to presume you have found some magic formula that is the cure all for every battle remotely similar to yours.

First off, it isn't the same battle. I can say this with absolute confidence. You aren't the same people, you don't have the same history, you don't live in the same circumstances, you don't suffer the same temptations, you aren't the same people, and you don't have the same problem, therefore your "key" isn't going to fit the lock.

This mentality is what keeps believers from being REAL... OPEN... TRANSPARENT. We preach it, but we don't dare to live it.

Instead we feel forced into some sort of box, to play the "role" of the perfect Christian. We paint on our smiles. Smile politely and offer a "fine, thanks." to those who ask the "how are you?"s in life, and no one dare stop ling enough to truly ask or answer the question. Life looks good, even when people feel like they are drowning inside.

And while I'm up here on my soapbox, I have to ask, why would that Stepford-like life be any kind of draw to the unbeliever? I mean seriously, if I am living in my messy life, struggling with my messy struggles and emotions, walking around feeling like a metaphorical "Pig Pen" character why on earth would I want to walk into your pristine world, where all the walls are white, the floors shiny clean, a place for everything, and everything in its place. I'm not walking in your world, I won't belong there, and you and I will both be painfully aware that every speck of dust we find there will be mine, and nobody's going to be comfortable with that.

Aside from that, I'm going to just out you perfect "housekeepers" anyway, because I happen to know, if I wander around your "place" long enough, I'm going to find that filthy closet. I know you've got that junk drawer, I know that the appearance is deceiving, and the perfection is just a facade.

The fact of the matter is, when someone finds themselves in a pit, a messy muddy pit in life that they have somehow stumbled into (because let's face it, nobody climbs into the pit alone on purpose) they don't want someone who's just come alongside the ledge and stand there evaluating how they got into it in the first place.

"See, now I think where you got off track was right over here. If you would just not have taken this little stretch of the road, you wouldn't have fallen in. Or better yet, if you have just come across the road more slowly... Or you had read the map better.... or you'd been paying closer attention to your feet..." I'm sorry it's not helpful.

Neither is the coach who stands above you. "Get up, step right there." (You try, sink further.) "No, you're not doing it right, See when I fell in my pit, I found the perfect wedge for my foot right there, and was able to lift myself right up out of it." Not the same hole, you're not helping.

It's also not helpful to be the one yanking on the arm of the fallen trying to pull them up. You yank, trying to lift them out and keep clean all at the same time. "Give me your hand, but wipe off the mud first." Where is that mud supposed to be wiped off exactly? Trying to help from above and stay clean is only going to frustrate you and hurt the person in the pit. Arm dislocated, sinking lower, feeling even more hopeless.

The fact is, the only real help you can offer is messy. Now I'm not saying you're supposed to climb in every pit of every person you find along your road. Fact of the matter is, it's probably unhealthy if not your calling directly from God. But if it's a pit you're supposed to act upon, there's really only two viable options, and both involve getting dirty and getting in the pit.

You climb down in, and you lift them up. If you have the know how and the strength (which by definition would have to be of God,) then get in there, and help them out. Don't over-evaluate why they're there, how they could have avoided getting there just get in and help as best you can to get them out. Look for the steps, build the steps, bring the rope, whatever it is GOD leads you to do, but do it in the pit. Be willing to get dirty.

The other option is more challenging, but sometimes the most ministering movement of all. Get in, sit down, and shut up. Hold a hand, put your arm around a shoulder, just sit silently beside. There is strength in knowing one is not alone, that someone is there, someone who cares, someone who is willing to get dirty in life with you. It matters to know someone loves you enough to let your mess make their life a little messy. You pray, you listen, you wait. There may come a time when that plan changes, but it isn't your call. So you sit. You sit, and you love.

Life is hard, and love is messy, and being a Christian doesn't make us immune to it. Christians hurt, and they struggle and stumble. Yes, they have VICTORY in the war, but it doesn't mean they never lose battles along the way. And just because we have victory in Christ does not mean we never get beat up and bruised in the battle. War heroes often leave lame, scarred, even broken. It isn't the absence of these things that make them heroes, but rather the perseverance through it.

The beautiful thing, and what I hold to, both when I have sat in the pit looking up at someone who has chosen to judge, as well as when I have found myself looking down over the pit of another, is that Christ is there. He is Lord of the pit and in the pit, and He is more than willing to be in the mess. He loves us in the mess. And yes, eventually He will deliver us eternally from it, but He is the hand to hold, the silent friend, and when we are ready, He is willing to be the one to bring us freedom from it, not in judgment but in hope and truth for He alone is Impervious.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Prone to Wander

All morning long the words to the old hymn "Come Thou Fount" have been running through my mind as though to haunt it. The line from the song that keeps lingering there says, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love..."

There is such a depth of truth in the line of that song. We in our sinful nature forever close to wandering away from our heart for God. It's not a walk of intention, but rather of distraction. It's not a purposeful moving away, but just as the song says, we are so inclined to wander away.

I can hear some of you now, with all the bluster of Peter, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” ((Luke 22:33) Perhaps not in those exact words, mind you, but the same passion, and the same sentiment, "I will never leave You, Lord, wherever you lead me, I will go."

Honestly I do not doubt or diminish the sincerity of such statements. I have made them myself, and I know the great conviction with which they are said. But the fact of the matter is, the obstacles and distractions have been set in place to attempt to draw us away.

This morning as I drove to work, and this song ran through my head, I thought to myself, how easy it is to simply slip in the diligence of pursuit of the Lord. How many mornings have I lingered too long in bed only to rise and rush past prayer or devotional and into my day. I think of the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver where she tells the analogy of Christ waiting for us patiently in the room of our hearts we have set aside for Him. Daily He waits there while we let distraction draw us away, offering him nothing more than a wave as we pass by the "door" of His room in our heart.

So many snares and enticements to draw us away. Darkness, discouragement, sin and guilt, the big roadblocks to the road of walking close to Him. But there are potholes too on the road which we have been called to walk, potholes of busyness, offense, weariness. Even inviting detours like service can draw us away from the best, it quite simply, can draw us away from Him.

The greatest obstacle of course lies within ourselves. That sinful nature which with we first resisted His call. Although we willingly submit it to Him upon salvation, and it may even lie dormant for a time, always, always, it will rear it's ugly head again. When in rebellion it is easily spotted, and in a way, I think, less daunting a foe, for the intention is obvious, and so obviously addressed. Conviction will come, the Lord is faithful. Even we ourselves cannot deny (at least completely) our own rebellion. We see it, we know it. We are not unaware when rebellion draws us from Him. It is a miserable place to find ourselves, for even any joy we find in the sin, it's emptiness will ring out from our hearts and the backs of our minds.

That's not so with the wandering though, it is not done in rebellion nor defiance. It is just a distracted step that leads to another and then another, till suddenly, we look up and realize we have wandered so very far away. Oh the diligence that is required not to find ourselves in this perilous predicament. It is the slippery slope. It is the frog in the boiling water. It is a threat too easily overlooked in the body of Christ.

I love the cry of Robert Robinson in this same hymn, it sings, "Let Thy goodness (grace, says the modern version of the hymn), like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee." Yes Lord, this is my heart's cry too. A "fetter" is old time terminology for shackles upon the ankles. For one who was tied in this way, to a weight or another, there was no moving away from the anchor. Whatever movement made, it had to be in sync with the where it was bound. Why is it not so that the goodness of God keeps us tied so closely to Him, to His heart in all times.

The wandering heart, it must be continually submitted, again and again. It must choose to say, "I am not my own" not in my time, or my circumstances, not in my challenges or my victories, in all things, in all these times and places, God, you are Lord, and my heart is anchored to You by Your goodness and Your grace. It IS a submission, but unlike our salvation it is not a "once and for all" choice, we must continually hold, and draw near, or we will simply wander away, we are prone to it. To consider ourselves somehow immune to it, is foolishness, just ask Peter. Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:34)

I must confess, Peter's example certainly seems more dire and distinct than most of what I am referring to, but I believe the principle remains, even the strongest of saints is susceptible to slip.

I have had the days where my bible has remained unopened for weeks at a time, or even been misplaced, and that prayer has been avoided by a few more moments sleep. And I have had the days where my priorities were right and my pursuit purposeful, and the latter is better. He may be the Author and Finisher of my faith, but it does not change the fact, that I alone can do the running in my race. No one else can carry me, and the the Lord may coax me, He will not drag me on.

So foolish am I, or anyone to even for a moment consider that any other pursuit compare to the noble cause of following Christ alone. Not even in our service to Him should we ever be distracted from what He told Martha was, in fact, the "better part." (Luke 10)

That's my desire Lord, to have the tethered heart, that nothing would ever distract me from You, from taking in Your word of truth, of binding it around my heart. Let nothing be of greater importance than sitting at your feet, sharing my heart and resting in Yours. My heart may always the proclivity to run amiss, but together You and I can tame it. As the song says, till "that day when freed from sinning, I shall see Thy lovely face..."

Until that day Lord, as You walk with me, for you have promised, never to leave me nor forsake me, help me also to walk with You, that my heart may never wander away, in Jesus' name.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

To Be Known

When my husband speaks to me, the sweetest of words aren't "I love you" or even "you were right," though both are favorite phrases that definitely make the top 5. But sincerely the words that always touch my heart from my husband are "they just don't know you."

I know that sounds really odd, but I cannot begin to express the depth of those words, how far in they reach and minister to an old and wounded soul. Which truthfully, if we are honest, I suspect that every soul is wounded deep down, to some degree or another. I by no means make myself out to be any sort of victim and I think as dysfunction goes, well, aren't we all? But the dysfunction is at a livable level, and although by no means a place to settle, I know God uses broken people to accomplish His purpose, and I have full confidence that He can use me (and mine) and in the process of doing so is ever working towards decreasing the level of dysfunction and adversely, increasing the level of abundant life he has for us in the same process.

I am a strong personality, often sarcastic, occasionally irreverent, playful and a huge tease. I am passionate... let me say PASSIONATE about my convictions and very "black and white" in the way I see things. I LOVE God, and although often questioned, I am equally passionate about people. I care deeply about the lost, but truly my even greater passion is for those who are following Christ, and my desire that they would know the fullness of His love, but also desire to "lay aside every weight" in their own lives so that nothing would hinder them.

I love teenagers, I have a passion for them because as a person who accepted Christ at ten years old but was never discipled, I know the dangers and the damage that can be done by not living life according to the plan God has laid out for us. I sincerely almost find myself falling into "bad cop" mode on a regular basis because I am so hyper-aware of all the slippery slopes I see at every turn... and between every turn for that matter.

I am also passionate about women. I love to see women grow in their faith and in their understanding of Who God is and how much He loves them. I want them to know who they are, I want them to know all God has for them, I want them to be passionate in their walk, and I want God to consume their thoughts the way He does mine. Can you hear that passion riding up?

That passion gets me in trouble a lot, and puts people off too. The only thing that I think challenges people more is my directness. Having grown up with a lot of doublespeak and manipulation (call it finessing or coaxing or bribery, I can't stand it.) So perhaps in my passion not to be one way, I am extreme in the other, but it's not something I make an apology for. I do my best to never be hurtful when I speak the truth, but I will also be the first to admit that I care more about my friends than I care about our friendships. I care more about you than what you think about me. It has cost me friendships, but I have always been able to stand in peace when I knew that what I said, I said out of love and concern.

Having said that, I would never hold an unbeliever to the same standard I would hold for someone who proclaims the name of Christ, and the louder someone proclaims it, by leading or teaching, even telling people they are Christians, the higher the standard I hold seems to rise. It's one of those convictions I hold so tightly to. And that's not to say there's no room for mistakes and failures, Lord knows I have a LONG list of my own, but I also feel passionately that grace should never be mistaken for license to sin. I think the line between the two can be very easily blurred, and when someone says to me "don't judge," it hurts my heart, because I would never judge a person (or condemn them as the literal translation states) especially someone who does not know the Lord. But I do think as believers we are to see sin for what it is, and love the sinner but hate the sin. And by no means should you draw any kind of cookie cutter stand on this matter from what I am saying, because I believe every situation varies relationally. Where I might call out one person on a sin because we are friends and because I care, and to someone who I don't know, or who I know don't trust me, I will not turn a blind eye, but will swallow my desire and say a prayer without ever uttering a word.

On the other hand, sometimes I am known to make sweeping observations (Facebook statuses wou;d be an excellent example). I look around me and see things that cause me concern and I say them out loud (or write them for all to see, on Facebook or here). Having already confessed my propensity for directness, let's just clarify that it's not some passive aggressive attempt to call a single person out. That would qualify as that manipulative style I have sworn to avoid. On the other hand, if what I have said causes you to feel guilty in some way, perhaps you ought to take stock of that guilt and dig a little deeper rather than automatically throw it back at me as being judgmental. Now, it's important to state at this point, that what I am writing here is sincerely an outpouring of my heart, and is NOT based on any single conversation, but is a long historical list of conversations. I am not calling anyone out here, I am just relaying my own experience.

"Judgmental." Ugh. It's a label often plastered upon me. Talk about pushing one of those buttons that connects directly to the wounded dysfunctional soul! I hear it a lot. I hear it a lot and it breaks my heart. It comes in a few different styles, there is the direct "Judgmenta." There is the personal attack, "You're so self-righteous." There is the cruel, "You are unloving." And there is even the down right nasty, which I will choose wisely not to repeat here. Whatever form it takes, it hurts my heart.

That's when I turn to my husband, and he looks at me and says, "They just don't know you." They don't know that I love them, and I care about them, and that I worry for them and pray for them. They don't know how I would sacrifice our friendship in order to spare them the pain of falling away or stumbling so badly in their walk that their bruises keep them down a good long time, and the enemy finds an open door to render them ineffectual in their faith. They don't know how badly I want to warn them, and keep them safe.

The running joke is I am like caviar. People either love me or hate me, there is very little neutral response in between. Of course to everything there is an exception, but the fact is, most people either get me, and get where my heart is coming from, or they don't. People may acquire a taste for me, but it's always slightly unsettled, there is a tiny bit of refrain. Most of the time, I can feel it. They come, want to be around, but it's as though they always have one eye averted keeping lock on the exit. It can be unsettling, but I love them anyway.

I am thankful this past year or so, the Lord has added some exceptional relationships to my life of people that "get" me, that can not only take the strong taste, but enjoy it. They are in every sense of the word, the truest of gifts from God. Thes people who can tease me as hard as I tease them. People who love me even when my foot is securely lodged in my mouth and who love me enough to call me out without judging me, and only judging my actions. Something I know a lot about.

God created us to "know and be known." First and foremost, in our relationship with Him. But because of the obvious challenges in that relationship on our end, He also places people in our lives that are an extension of Him. I thank God every day that for me, one of those people is my husband. I see so many, many marriages around me where that just isn't the case, and it breaks my heart. I love that my husband knows and understands my heart to the very best of his abilities. And I thank God for the small group of godly women God has surrounded me with who also understand. (I also thank Him for still expanding that group.) You know who you are. There are days when I feel so misunderstood, that I don't think I could get through it if I didn't know you were never more than a phone call or text message away.

I know I am by no means a finished product. If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, "She's so full of herself," ;et me assure you, I am being misunderstood again. I KNOW I have a LOT of room for improvement. My mouth and my words are both my greatest tool and my biggest challenge. I have to remind myself daily that the Bible says "speak grace, seasoned with salt." I have to accept that speaking truth, even in love, will often come at a great price, but in the end I have to be able to stand up and face myself in the mirror knowing I loved the person more than I loved the relationship.

Someday, when my life comes to an end, I hope people will say of me, I loved God, and I loved people, that I spoke truth without compromise and did my best to walk out what I said I believed. I know I will stumble along the way, and I know I will hurt people (I even worry people will read into this and be offended), but I pray when it's no longer my own refection that I stand face to face with but rather my Father in heaven, I pray He will look back at me, and He having truly known me, and truly known my heart will say, "Well done, good and faithful," and I will enter into my reward. Because in the end, that's truly what matters most.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


So much has been going on.

I feel like I'm caught up in a spiritual whirlwind.

Everything feels unstable.

A momentary lapse in judgment has opened up a can of worms.

And it turns out inside the can, underneath the worms was a whole hornets' nest.

A nest full of history, old hurts, frustrations, questions and fears.

It sucks.

On top of it, all these areas and things where I thought I was making an eternal contribution, just seem to be stagnate at best, possibly even worse, actually deteriorating.

There are family challenges.

Personal frustrations.




They rise.

They fall.

One retreats, another swings forward.

That one fades and still another rises.

In the midst of it all, I have been truly trying to




I feel tossed all around.

Then I look at others around me, and I wonder what on earth I have to fuss about.

And yet.

The waves of the storm are real.


He's the only constant.

No matter whether I feel





Struck down.

He remains.

I must grip to Him.

He is the Anchor in the storm.

The Light in the darkness.

He is my Hope.

My Friend.

My Life.

Rescue me, Lord.

My hope is in You.

You are faithful.

I will hold to You.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Freedom That's Mine

Freedom That's Mine

Chains unbroken remain in my life.
Always they're leading to sorrow and strife.

I have the liberty You gave when You died,
But still daily freedom, I'm seemingly denied.

Your resurrection power residing in me,
Yet still I don't walk as someone who's free.

Teach me walk in the freedom that's mine,
Leaving these chains, broken behind.

Oh that I'd know the fullness thereof,
A liberty poured out so freely from above.

Instead I stand as a beggar at Your feasting table,
Denying the power of Your grace that is able.

A grace in my life that's redeemed and restored,
A grace that's proclaimed my Jesus as Lord.

You opened the locks when You came with the key,
Yet still I remain with these chains cloaking me.

Like an eagle caged, weighted down to the floor,
I've neglected the wings You gave me to soar.

Oh to feast at the table You've set,
But continually my invitation, I seem to forget.

Open my eyes, that I may clearly see,
The freedom You died for was given to me!

Break through the bondage of fear and deceit,
Give me a heart that will not retreat,

The heart of lion that will not be restrained,
Until all that You have for me is fully obtained.

Teach me, O Lord, to walk in what's mine,
A life of liberty, wholly divine.

Not a beggar at all, but a child of Your choice,
Make my ears sensitive to the sound of Your voice.

Gently I'll walk toward Your voice as You call,
The closer I get, the more the chains fall.

As I walk towards You, the chains fall behind,
And I remember not only freedom, but Jesus is mine.

And in Your embrace, no chain can stand,
For each one will be broken by Your mighty hand.

Teach me to walk in the freedom that's mine,
To live out the liberty, wholly divine.

- Diana DePriest
© October 17, 2010

And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah.
And when He had opened the book,
He found the place where it was written:
“ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:17-21

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:31-32

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Communication Breakdown

One of the best ways for my hubby and I to communicate is through text messaging. He doesn't have the luxury to answer calls at work, and can be very busy when he's there. So sending him a text message means he can check and reply at his best convenience. It's a trustworthy form of communication for us.

But Neal and I had a communication breakdown this week.

When I texted him to get a 2nd box of medication when he went to the store for me, he came home with one just like written the list had said.

When I griped to him about a loved one I was frustrated with, he seemingly ignored me.

When I asked him where the sore throat spray he'd been using was for Victoria, he never came back with an answer.

When I asked him to stop for groceries on his way home, he didn't get my message.

And when I told him I needed chocolate, I ended up having to go without.

We had a serious communication breakdown. It was out of character and extremely frustrating.

When I didn't get my chocolate, it meant it was time to take the bull by the horns and address the problem. I asked Neal why he hadn't been answering my messages and he assured me he hadn't gotten any. I showed him my screen that they had been sent, and he showed me his screen and that they'd never arrived.

That was when Neal remembered he had gotten a notification on the screen of his Android phone earlier that week that said it was low on memory, and neither of us realized what that meant. What it meant was that for a couple of days there, every time I sent him a text message it got lost up in cyber space and I got caught in a little frustration when he didn't answer me back.

It was a simple fix, he deleted a long back log of messages and before I could even type in a test message to send him, his phone chimed, and all my missing messages arrived, the edited grocery list, the family member complaint, the location inquiry, even my request for chocolate. Problem solved.

It's not the first time I've felt that kind of frustration, it's just the first time I felt it with my husband. He's never been one to reply to my requests with silence. God on the other hand...

Have you ever had the sense that your prayers have somehow just seemed to melt somewhere between your heart and heaven?

If only that challenge were as easily rectified as my communication breakdown with my husband. "God, I sent you a message, did you get it?" Turning my "prayer screen toward Him."

What would the Lord reply?

"No, I didn't get it." Turning His "screen" toward me.

What would the error message on His phone be?

"Unrepented sin"?

"Asking amiss"?

"Outside of God's will"?

These are the questions that have run through my head. Along with "Is He mad at me?" or "Does He care?"

Silence is hard to weather.

It's a great temptation in those times and seasons to get really focused on the prayer and it's answer, or lack thereof. It's easy to get tempted to transition from questioning God to accusing Him.

And that my friends, is a dangerous place to be.

I have heard people preach the mini-sermon, and I am sure you have too, "God always answers our prayers, but sometimes the answer is 'no' or 'wait.'" Well, I don't know about you, but I have found that to be cold comfort in those days of wondering and waiting. It's a really tough place to be. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick," says the book of Proverbs. Unanswered prayer, surely is a deference of hope.

It's in those times when our hope feels put off that we have to take our eyes off of the hope, and put them on the One we have placed our hope in.

It's in those times when we have to remember it isn't about the opportunity to ask, but in the relationship that offers the privilege of asking.

It isn't about the need, it's about the One who has promised to meet us in all our needs.

It isn't about the desire, it's about the One who longs to be the Greatest Desire of our hearts.

It's about look past circumstance and focusing fully on the character of the One we have asked.

It's about remembering we were told, to ask, seek, knock... keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Not because God gets some great joy out of keeping us in limbo, but I think rather He takes great pleasure in receiving more of us, and is blessed by the faith that doesn't give up on Him, even when we don't see Him move.

Because the fact is, if we belong to the Lord, we know He hears us. There's nothing wrong with His reception, there's no malfunction between our heart and heaven, but God is all about the process, and far less concerned with the end result. Whereas we see only point A and point B, the Father is found in the process between them.

So perhaps we should consider those quiet wandering days differently. Have you ever sat comfortably in silence with someone you love? Have you felt the intimacy of sitting beside someone that you know loves and cares for you, and not felt the need to speak? A relationship like that is a special one, the comfort of an intimate silence.

We must realize God is with us sitting in the silence as we wait. He is not afar off, He is near. He longs for us to rest in His presence, trusting in Who He is, more than just what He does. He longs for us to wait confidently, knowing His love, even in the silence.