Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Shards. Brokenness. Hurt. Heartache. Pain. Grief. Anger. Self-doubt. Unworthy. Despairing. Physical ailments. Broken-heart. Divorced. Lonely. Unemployed.

What are the shards that you carry?
Jesus collected broken people just like you and me. He wants to make something beautiful of your broken pieces. He longs to make you whole.

Matthew 11:28 says, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me---watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."  (the Message)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Searching for Perfection

Last month I stuck my toes in the sand. Florida beach sand. I dug them in both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. Just me, two friends and Florida sunshine.

The lyrics for Zac Brown's song, "Toes" comes to mind when I'm at the beach. Really...sing it with me- I got my toes in water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand. Life is good today. Life is good today. Well, I may have had my toes in the water, my a*# in the sand and although there wasn't a cold beer in my hand, life was certainly good. It was an epic trip.

My friends and I spent hours combing the beaches for shark's teeth and shells. Girlfriend Yvonne is a virtual shark tooth "whisperer" if you will. She spots them so quickly and differentiates between mere black grains of sand to pick out the gray/black sheen of a tooth. It's a skill I do not possess.

Me, my quest is different. I search and collect perfect seashells...and I quickly discard the broken ones, the ones with perceived deformities, even the ones whose color does not impress me enough. I will pick up a shell, turn it over but toss it if there is a hole on its underside. Over and over I repeat this process. And yet, God has littered beaches with millions of tiny shards of light and beauty for me to witness. His majesty is on display in every minute fragment of sand, silica, glass, stone and shell. With foot or hand I reject more than I keep, ignoring the lesser in order to find perfection.

Again in my life, I find this never ending search for perfection. It seems to overtake me in the strangest of times and places. On a beach, my favorite place in the whole world. Never quite satisfied even in a seashell? How does this happen I wonder?

That I am walking on the beach, talking to God, his beauty surrounds me, overwhelms me in the lapping of the waves, the sunlight on my face, my toes in sand!! I am rejecting part of His beauty. Am I saying, "Just show me the perfect shells so that I can take them home with me to put them on display?" I value these shells to fill my pretty, decorative bowl. Ouch. I didn't want to take home shards of shells, but the lesson was there for me to learn.

What if God sees me or you as the not so quite perfect specimen and rejects us flat out, based on our appearance or performance? What chance would we have to experience his love? I think this day spent on the beach was to remind me that God loves me & his creation in spite of brokenness. I think he specifically chooses us in our broken state and does not reject us no matter how flawed we are.

My friend Robin reminded me that God requires brokenness. He loves you and me as broken, flawed people and uses us for his purposes. He requires a broken and contrite heart. Really, we're all just shards of a shell that will never be perfect this side of eternity. We are shards.

So do we search for perfection because we know we are so flawed? He is the only perfection we will ever find. The broken/flawed shells I brought home are a better representation of us and our humanity. It seems the Lord requires brokenness in exchange for beauty. If we only give Him the shards of our lives, He in turn gives us something beautiful...the only true beauty we will ever know.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Naming the graces of today

Name the Graces...seashells that my husband I have collected from many beaches over the years.
First cup of coffee in the morning (in Bethany's red mug)!!
Stillness of the water reminding me that God is creator of all things beautiful.
Candles illuminating
A new day of life
Robert's Visa - provisions from Jehovah Jireh
Pictures of time spent in Kenya displayed throughout

Thursday, April 26, 2012


A stranger beside me utters words to God on my behalf. Words that only she and her master understand. Words that she hopes will have some impact on my life in a positive way. Why she chose to pray over me is a mystery for there are easily hundreds of other women and teens seated around us in this place. I too am praying silently, fervently  this evening, tears flowing like rivulets that I cannot control. Oh but there is no mastering this salty water, that escapes my eyes faster than I can wipe it away. Yet even this is good because it is a soul-cleansing cry I so desperately need. My spirit is aching and I am hungry for more. 

Tonight is about being in the presence of his glory and calling out to Jesus. It is the right time to surrender many things which have held me captive for so long. 

Moments pass between two strangers, how many moments I cannot say. And then a word of encouragement forms on her lips, this woman decades younger than myself. I am straining to hear, partly excited for the word or words she will bring me, and partly fearful that I am unable to receive a blessing. I lean in close, and hear the echo of my own individual prayer --"purpose," she says. "That is the word, the prayer, the utterance God gave me for you. Take it, receive it and may the Lord give you new purpose."  My purpose in this life is ever changing, but his words that nourish the soul come in the most unexpected & delightful ways.

"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."  Jeremiah 29:12-14 (the Message)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quote of the Day

The discipline of thanks only comes with practice.
When we practice giving thanks, we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always the eyes, and a practice of the eyes.

We don't have to change what we see, only the way we see.
Why is it so hard to re-tune the impaired senses to sense the spirit I wonder? To see the grace before us in every circumstance? Why is it so hard? Practice. Practice. Practice.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fish Tanks or Flash?

What is the most expensive build you have ever completed and what made it so expensive?
A $4.7 million arch aquarium that we built for IBOC (Inspiring Body of Christ) church in Dallas, TX…..70,000 gallons of magnificence.
Flabbergasted is the word I want to use in this moment. A church in Dallas Texas felt it was necessary to install a $4.7 million dollar aquarium in their sanctuary.

This tank was built by the 2 guys from the reality TV show, "TANKED." Brett Raymer is the COO of Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM). 
I'd say this is definitely a tank of beauty. Seeing God's creation in the form of fish and all manner of sea life is awe-inspiring; it's gorgeous but I struggle with the reason behind putting an aquarium inside of a church structure.
70,000 gallons of water could have been used to provide clean drinking water to the poverty-stricken inhabitants living in the horn of Africa, or India, or any other number of countries. Clean water is a necessity, but a fish tank, even though it's full of salt water? Drinking water! Wells, Bibles translated in native languages for indigenous people. Yeah, that means something to me. As does paying for uniforms and education for those who cannot afford something so valuable.
Have I missed something? Is attracting people to a church with a "wow factor" somehow more relevant than giving them bread and water and the gospel message and a safe haven? Is ministry falling by the wayside as churches become bigger and more extravagant?
The twelve met in homes. They distributed any money that came in and fed people, clothed people. They also had day jobs as I recall, but I digress.
I was equally aghast after watching an interview with Joel Osteen in which he said he was thrilled to have spent approximately 25 million on the children's ministry section of his mega-church Lakewood. Now bear with me, I may have not have the exact figures correct here, but I did watch the interview Joel did on Oprah's Next Chapter. His children's ministry had been designed to resemble a Disney theme park so that the children would love coming to church on Sundays & Wednesday nights. So now we need theme parks and fish tanks.
And Joel makes a valid point in his interview about reaching people. I'll give him that because I'm not writing to bash the man. Again, I question the issue of spending millions to be attractional.
Lakewood is an operation… getting people their to the church, getting people there with their children, etc.
  • If we don’t take care of children people won’t come.
  • If we make the space for the children that’s great, they will want their parents to bring them.
  • It takes nearly 5,000 volunteers to make a weekend happen at Lakewood.

I think we need the Bible, a whole lot of love, and simplicity. Really, I'd probably love to interview the pastor of IBOC about his fish tank idea and Mr. Osteen. I'd like to ask how these ideas became so important in light of community or ekklesia.
Until next time, breathe.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My New Journal

Amber showed me her sweet journal last night!! I mean it was so nice, all leather bound, full size, with lined pages. Therefore, I did what any girlfriend would do and blurted out, "where did you get that?" I must have one for myself asap! I coveted her journal, for its beauty. Good old T*J* Maxx.
I mean I literally just blogged yesterday about needing a new notebook so that I could indeed begin putting down on paper how I learn to see the grace & goodness in everyday life.
I no longer want to wake to the discontent of life in my skin. It's a poor substitute for joy and being grateful for all of life's gifts...It's a really poor way to live, bogged down by anxiety, fear, self-hatred, neglect, complaining my way through another year. Here's to A Dare To Live Fully Right Where I am.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Random Thoughts about 2011

Resolutions rarely stick, if anything I am a frustrated mess by January 10th because I've already failed miserably. Having time to reflect on some amazing things I was privileged to experience 2011 is by far a better way to start 2012.

I'm currently reading a book my daughter slyly recommended to me. I admit I read the first chapters on my Amazon Kindle and put the book down sometime last fall because I felt it was too "christiany" for me at the time. I didn't get it perhaps and was not ready to hear someone, the author Ann Voskamp, tell me how to be grateful for everything, good and bad, in my life. I was so not there. So here's the official title of this book, "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully."

December 2011 was I think a life changing month for me for many reasons, certainly too many to express in a blog post, but I will attempt to share a few of them.

  1. Prayer became real. Some days like breathing, other days not so much, but I was consciously aware of my need to pray for those battling cancer, health scares, persecution, religious freedom, marriages and prodigal children,
  2. In Kenya we met Erin's mom Debbie and dad Larry for the first time. Joyous! We fed and loved on babies whose mothers were incarcerated. We wanted to adopt those babies but all we could do was cry.
  3. In Kenya, Erin & Robert said, "I Do!" It was the most fun and spirit-filled wedding I think we've ever been to. And the rain stopped days before the wedding and God brought out the sunshine. 
  4. Baby Girl finished her work with CMF & MOHI and came back to SC for 3 weeks. We celebrated Christmas with a simple tree, some cookies and lots of deep spiritual reflection. We were and are thankful that God watched over her for 21 months and brought her safely home.
  5. Rafael Rivera! Now a son and part of the family. We look forward to seeing how God uses him as a minister, husband and family man. Welcome.
  6. Meals on Wheels. I hope you're not sick of hearing me talk about it, but honestly I love my clients and the conversations that we have. I'm blessed by these kind folk who have let me be a part of their life. 
  7. I'm ready to start a new journal. I just this morning put the ending of my "Kenya" journal down on paper. It's there, finally finished with a strong ending. It's my tale of angst, and letting go of things that I held on to for selfish reasons; it's now my journal of joy in the journey. You don't want to read it, but trust me when I say that God had to work on my hardened, crusty, selfish heart in 2011. Letting go and finishing the journal feels right.
  8. New Journal will be based on "One Thousand Gifts," where I write down a few things each day I am grateful for. The fog rolling over the lake this morning, health, breath, a computer to write on. A family that loves Jesus. Grace. You get it. Awkward conversations that I cannot control? Yes, even those.