All of my life I have been a go-er! My family was one to quickly pack a bag and go on an adventure. Whether it was a Sunday afternoon drive where we explored different cities or if it was a fast weekend trip to Key West to watch the Cuba Boatlift in 1980. In college, many evenings my friends and I just into my Firebird and headed up I-75 to see what trouble we could get into in Atlanta. And in all of these goings my thought was to do it quickly! Earlier this year, I felt impressed of the Lord to slow it down – not quit going but just do it slower. The word I sensed Him saying was to stroll…the 1828 Webster dictionary defines strolling as to ramble idly or leisurely. Jesus walked the earth at 3 mph…I do nothing at 3 mph! But knowing that my life was taking some significant turns, I decide I would give this strolling thing a try and the first time I really did it was on a trip back from Charlotte.

My mentality when on an interstate is a bit like NASCAR – I either need to be passing the car in front of me or drafting. So, if I was to stroll home on this trip, the interstate was not the solution. So, thanks to the Maps app I was able to plot a course home with using any interstate. Was it a longer distance? Yes, but not much about 20 miles. Did it take longer timewise? For sure, almost 2 hours. Was it worth it? Every mile and every minute.

Three ways it was worth it…#1: there was no stress in driving. A lot of the trip was two lane roads and so there was no place for me to pass. Just set it on intelligent cruise and enjoyed the journey. #2: it brought back great memories of other trips I have taken that where off the beaten path and showed me that LOTS of people don’t live the fast-paced lifestyle. #3: find this great hole in the wall diner.

When dinner time drew near, I began looking for a spot to enjoy a nice meal. McD’s or Burger King really aren’t appropriate for a strolling trip. While I approached Comer, GA (pop. 1,159), I saw six cars turn in a row turn down a side street. As I passed the corner, I looked back and saw the street lined with cars in front of Maggie’s Café. I had found my spot!Inside it was bustling with activity and lots of friendly faces. I chose the dinner special which was fried pork chops, hash brown and CA blend veggies. It was yummy!! I did avoid the wonderful dessert case!

As I pulled into my driveway at 7 pm rather than 4 pm, I was a bit disappointed the trip was over, but I knew that this wasn’t going to be the last strolling trip I would take.

Further Freedom from Shame

Previously, shame was a real issue in my life. How it was manifested was in statements (some said out loud while sometimes only in my mind) like:

  • I am not good enough.
  • If they knew me they wouldn’t like me.
  • I have to earn my love from others.

I am so grateful that these lies don’t have free reign in my head any more. However, they will sometimes still crop up but now I pair them with the Truth.

  • I am not good enough but Christ in me makes me righteous.
  • If they knew me they wouldn’t like me…but really if they don’t like me after getting to know the real me do I even want them in my life?
  • I serve out of love not to earn their love.

In Hebrews 12, the Bible says that Jesus despised the shame and sat down at the right hand of the Father. He experienced shame but instead of taking the feeling and embracing it He despised it. Hated it. Repelled it. Rejected it. Gave it no value in His life. And then He just sat down.

One of the definitions of despise is a feeling of contempt for something. I, of course, had to look up contempt – and I am so glad I did. It means “the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn.” Do you see the connection…if I am to be like Jesus, I will despise the shame, consider it worthless, not even consider shame deserving of my time. It is like I am shaming the shame!

Back in 2013, I wrote about the beginning of the freedom that I experienced from the impact of  shame in my life…of unworthiness in my thoughts. But I think this recent revelation of Jesus despising the shame takes it to another level of freedom.

Shame is always from the enemy and not how God brings about sanctification in our lives so when shame comes I don’t need to analyze it, bow to it or even acknowledge it. I just need to scorn it and sit down at the right hand of the Father and maybe even crawl into His lap.

Powerful or Full of Power?

Each year Forbes magazine ranks the world’s most powerful people. In 2016, this list included rulers of nations such as Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump; business moguls like Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos and even the Pope. These people control billions if not trillions of dollars (Bill Gates alone has a net worth of almost $90B.) They have the fate of millions of people in their hands. They tend to be authoritative, controlling, strong and even intimidating –don’t you have to be to be powerful? A few Sundays back, I was worshiping at Lifeway Church where my friend, William Deagle was preaching. Something he said, which for the life of me I can’t remember, prompted me to write this question: Am I powerful or am I full of Power?

Unfortunately, very often and in so many different ways, I want to be powerful as the world sees it. I want to be in control. I want to tell people what to do. I want it my way. And if they just did it my way I wouldn’t have to be so bossy.

But the Lord gently reminded me that the first will be the last. If you want to be great, you must be a servant to all. I must be filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit and not my power. When I am filled with the Holy Spirit, I am approachable. I am meek (strength under control.) I am clothed with dignity and can laugh at the future. I am more concerned about the mission than I am about my position.

I am able to walk in all the fruit of the Spirit.

  • To love the unlovely.
  • To find joy in hard times.
  • To have peace in the chaos.
  • To be patient when things are not going my way.
  • To be kind to the cruel.
  • To be good when my flesh desires to be bad.
  • To be faithful in the midst of disloyalty.
  • To be gentle despite the pain.
  • To be self-controlled with my mouth.

Will these things that put me on Forbes most powerful person list? Probably not, but it is not man’s list that I am looking to be on.

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:21 (ESV)



It is Well With My Soul

How many times have I sung that wonderful hymn, It is Well with My Soul? Dozens? Hundreds? And to know the story behind adds even more meaning and depth to it. (Check out the story here.) Many of those times I sang because I knew that it was true mentally but I was not “feeling” it. I was following the advice of one of my favorite motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar, “You can never feel you way into acting but you can act your way into feeling.”

So, by faith I just sang it and most of the time the feelings did follow and it was well with my soul. My soul. My mind, my will, my emotions were all rightly aligned with God and there was peace and even joy.

Other times I sang and life was going great. All the ducks I wanted/owned/loved were in a row. My soul was at peace because my circumstances were right.

However, lately, through the amazing work of the Never Changing God Who is ever changing me (thank you, Jennifer K. Dean), I can sing that song with truth and clarity despite my circumstances and not in a “fake it until you make it mode.” But, deeply knowing that all is well with my soul not because of “good” circumstances or despite “bad” circumstances. It is well because God is on the throne and He calls me His own.

Are there people close to me that are not walking in the abundancy Christ died on the cross to give them? Yes, they are but it is still well with my soul.

Is my dad struggling after the loss of his wife of almost 30 years? Yes, he is but it is still well with my soul.

Is my schedule still full and sometimes overwhelming? Yes, it is but it is still well with my soul.

Is God continuing to reveal to me my deep need for a Savior? Yes, He is but it is still well with my soul.

Am I still walking in singleness? Yes, I am but it is still well with my soul.

What about you? Do your circumstances control your soul? Does bad stuff cause you to make poor choices in your thought life, your eating, your relationships, etc.? Do challenges cause you to worry and fret and not trust? How are things with your soul?

Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 5

As I have asked before, (and will again for a few more times) do you have peace and contentment in your life? Are you living a John 10:10 kind of life? Do you believe Ephesians 3:20 can be a reality for you? Are you experiencing the transforming growth described in 2 Corinthians 3:18? As I have shared, living this type of life can be found in this verse:

So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 Amplified)

We have already unpacked the following concepts, uncleanness, wickedness and humble. Today we will look at the concept of receive. Some of the synonyms for receive are to get, obtain, accept or to collect. With a humble spirit, we should pursue this Word of God. It is a not a passive activity but one that requires action. I have given this example in the past but I think in bears repeating as we learn what it means to “receive” the Word of God.

Suppose I told you that in your back yard about 50 - 75 feet down there was a treasure chest filled with gold and silver and rubies and pearls.  It was filled with more than you could desire or even count. It is deep down but if you can get to it, it is yours!!

However, there are a few, little caveats in this cannot use anything mechanical and the only time you can dig is from 4 - 8 each morning.  Now you do not have to dig the whole time but you can only dig for four hours per day.  You can use a shovel or a pick but you must do it yourself.  No one else can dig for you but, again, once you reach the treasure, it is yours and nobody can take it away from you and you can freely give it to others around you.

If this were all true, what do you think tomorrow morning would look like at your house (and it would look the same at my house if the treasure chest was in my backyard)?  At 3:59 am, you would be standing at your back door with your hand on the knob.  You would have probably slept in your clothes and I doubt you would have needed an alarm.  All the shovels and picks you purchased today at the Home Depot would be lined up just outside the door.  And when it is the top of the hour, you would start digging and would not stop until 8!

No one would complain that they are not a morning person.  Clothes would have been laid out the night before.  Breakfast would have been planned.  Emails and social media ignored. Car pools arranged and appointments deferred because nothing was going to stop you from getting your treasure.

The Bible says in Proverbs 8:10-11 and 18-19 that His wisdom - His word - is choice gold and better than precious stones.  Do we really believe this? If so, we do all we could to receive this treasure.

Next time we will look at the concept, implant.

Longing for a Fulfilling Life: Part 1

Do you have peace and contentment in your life? Are you living a John 10:10 kind of life? Do you believe Ephesians 3:20 can be a reality for you? Are longing-for-a-fulfulling-lifeyou experiencing the transforming growth described in 2 Corinthians 3:18? I am blessed to travel the nation and serve alongside some amazing Christ followers. Men and women who have a heart to see God’s Kingdom advanced and the world impacted by the Gospel. But I also see many Christ followers, who live lives of depression, defeat, brokenness and bitterness. Why do I spot this type of Christ followers? Because I was once one of them!! I was saved, sealed and heading to heaven at my death but the promises of John 10:10, Ephesians 3:20 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 were not a reality in my daily existence.

However, praise the Lord, they are today!!! And I long for others to walk in that life as well. If I could give you a pill or a formula or a 4 step action plan to make it happen, I would do it in a heartbeat. Yet, this abundant, contented, fulfilling life does not come without some diligence (work out your salvation) and it does not come in the same manner and process for all (only one burning bush) but it can come.

So then the key question has to be, “How does it come?” For me, the answer to this question is held in this verse from the Bible: So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 Amplified) Over the next couple of blogs I am going to unpack this verse a bit and look at some key words: uncleanness, wickedness, humble, receive, implanted, save and souls. I pray you join me as we experience all that God wants for us and live a fulfilling life.

Be the Best You

As a coach in The Master’s Program for Women, we talk about the ceiling of complexity and when we learn and for most of us there is a significant drop off after college. According to Pew Research,  71% of all adults read less than 10 books in 2014. I want to go totally counter cultural to that stat. I want to be a lifelong learner with a curriculum for my life that will help me become the most impactful, loving and gracious self I can be.Best YOu This learning and personal development is not so that I can live a life that is better but it is so that I can serve the world better. My desire is to leave a legacy of hope, grace, power and influence. To do this I have to continue to be better…to set higher standards and expectations for my life…to dream BIG and believe that living an abundant, contented, joyful life is possible.

There are lots of areas to consider for lifelong curriculum but the first area needs to be over the only thing you can control in life – yourself. I want to be the best I can be physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Because of this desire, I chose (most of the time) to eat well and exercise. I read books and listen to podcasts that make me smarter as a leader, as an influencer, as a follower of Christ. I spend time practicing the spiritual disciplines and investing time and resources in the relationships around me that matter the most. By definition, that also means that I have to limit my relationships. I cannot be available and present for everyone. I have to say no to wonderful people so that I can say yes to those closest to me.

What about you? Do you have a curriculum? What legacy are you leaving? What can you do today to become the best you?

Making Room for Peace to Your Life

Despite my schedule which includes 40 flights the first six months of 2016, my life is pretty simply. My intentions were never to live a simple life but it PEacejust sort of happened that way. My good friend, Anthony Kober, used to shake his head at me because of how little I decorated my house. I am grateful for his skill to make into a home and feel warm and inviting and yet still be simple. Recently I was listening to Joyce Meyer and realized her practical suggestions to live a simple life were already actions I have implemented in my life. Here are a few of her suggestions:

  1. Get rid of clutter. Books and newspapers have boundaries. Rooms, calendars, counter tops should have boundaries too. They give us balance.
  2. Be yourself and stop trying to impress others.
  3. Don’t be easily offended and be quick to forgive.
  4. When you sin, admit it, receive forgiveness and move on.
  5. Give people mercy instead of trying to get revenge.
  6. When you need help ask for it.
  7. Make decisions as fast as possible.
  8. Don’t be over committed.

Applying any of these suggestions to your life will bring additional peace. Some of it will be mentally, some of it will be physical and some of it will be emotional. For some of us, applying these suggestions will take hard work and the opportunity to learn a new trait – the ability to say, “No.”

Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (NIV) Do you have peace? Do you have trouble in your heart? Are you afraid? If so, take some time, review the suggestions above and go about making room in your life for the peace of God.

Peace be with you!


What can Happen in 90 days?

It is often said that we over estimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. Have you found this to be true as well? runningMy to-do list is usually longer than my day but when I think about what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months my list is not much longer. This reality came true to me so well in the past 90 days. At the end of 2015, I started a Couch (read – potato couch) to 5K training program. It is an app on my phone that I can use while exercising that will help me go from sitting on the couch not running at all to running a 5K (3.1 miles.) Each week you have different walking/running assignments that gradually increasing to running 30 minutes straight.

For example, week 1 is made of 3 “runs” in which I walked 90 seconds than jogged 60 seconds and repeat for a total of 20 minutes per run. Week 2 the regime was 3 “runs” of 90 seconds of walking then 2 minutes of walking and repeat for a total of 20 minutes per run. Week 5 was jog for 5 minutes then walk for 3 minutes and repeat for a total of 21 minutes. Lastly, week 8 was jog of 28 minutes after a 5 minute warm up.

On December 28th, when I started, I really struggled to jog the 60 seconds. Everything hurt, I couldn’t breathe, I barely picked up my feet. It was pretty pitiful. I thought that there was no way I could ever run for 3+ miles! But I didn’t quit. I did what the app told me to do and I did it when it was cold, when it rained or when I was tired. However, before I knew it I had done it!! I had run a 5K and then I got really crazy and have started to Couch to 10K app.

The first of week of the third quarter is coming. The sun will set and the sun will rise 90 times and there is nothing we can do to stop that. However, we can be different people at this year’s 4th of July party. We can choose a goal, make a plan and then execute on that plan. You have the power to change you. Will you do it or will you be the same?

Please reach out to me if you need help with a plan or just to tell me what you plan to change in these next 90 days. See a change, make a plan and then do it!

If you write it down, there is power!

Write it DownFor many years now, I have written down my goals – personal and professional. Goals that were short term (less than a year and sometimes a week) and goals that were much longer (right now I have two goals that have “my lifetime” deadline on them.) I started this practice in the early 90s when I grasp the concepts by Hyrum Smith in 10 Natural Laws of Time and Life Management. What I have found to be amazing is sometimes just the process of writing them down brings them to completion. What I mean is that I have goals that I wrote down and then never intentionally worked on them and in some cases simply forgot about and later on I would stumble across the list and realize they had been completed. I think that is why in Habakkuk, God encourages us to write it down. “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 (ESV) Last summer, my coach, Steve Knox, encouraged me to take some time during vacation to write out some more goals and add the component of accountability by telling three people that goal and when I was going to accomplish it. One of the goals I wrote down was to be the National Managing Partner for The Barnabas Group (TBG) by 2020. The reason I wanted this role is because it would fulfill three of my values:

  • I love Christ and desire for Him to be glorified.
  • I strive for excellence.
  • I influence others.

And when I told the three people, they all encouraged me that I was on the right path.

Well, despite my time frame of 2020, God’s time frame was a bit earlier. On March 1st, Bob Shank, chairman of TBG-National, called and asked if I would be interested in considering taking over this role. As the Lord would have it, I was already schedule to be in Orange County, CA on the 2nd so we had breakfast along with Steve Esser, board member of TBG-National, and discussed what is the vision for TBG. There was an obvious alignment and I officially accepted the position on March 3rd and started immediately.

What is interesting is that of the 14 goals I wrote down in June of 2015, four of them have already been accomplished and I am on track with three others to be finished by June of 2016. Writing it down gives focus and clarity and in a strange way I think God thinks we really mean it when we do and His sovereignty is made evident as we work out these goals.

I would love to hear from you about any goals you have written down. Are you seeing them come to completion?

Christ with Me, Christ with You, Christ with Us

0106_ChristInUsOn Good Friday, I was blessed to sit a in a family’s media room with a small group of close friends to experience Secret Church 2014. David Platt (author of Radical and Radical Together) started the first Secret Church experience at his church. It is basically a  "house church" where we meet periodically for an intense time of Bible study—lasting 6+ hours—including a time of prayer for our brothers and sisters across the globe who are facing persecution and for those who have still not heard the Gospel. Platt started off his messages with this prayer and I think it is well worth an entire blog post:
As I arise today,
May the strength of God pilot me,
The power of God uphold me,
The wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
The ear of God hear me,
The word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
The way of God lie before me,
The shield of God defend me,
The host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.


My prayer is that you will realize that Christ, through the indwelling Holy Spirit is ALWAYS, with you. And with Him all things are possible!

The Seeds that We Sow

LadyBirdJohnson-Forever-pane-BGv1In 1965, the first lady of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson, was instrumental in the passing of the Beautification Act. This act called for a control of outdoor advertising as well as scenic enhancement and roadside development along the interstates of America. We experience the beauty of wildflowers along the interstates because of seeds that were planted decades ago! This morning in my quiet time I read this verse:

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)

The Apostle Paul in this verse is specifically talking about finances but the principle applies to all that we sow. The seed sown could be time, talent, influence, etc. – anything that we possess that we can give away. In this sowing not only will those we sown into be blessed but we also have an increase in the “seed.” Personally, I have experienced this with my time as well as my skills and most recently I experienced this with my finances.

I was blessed to be able to purchase a major appliance for a friend and it was $750. Of course, she gave thanks to me but also to our God for the provision. But what is so cool in that in the next 10 days, the following happened:

  • Received an unplanned for bonus check
  • Signed another contract
  • Invited to speak at an event
  • Did NOT have to pay for a plane ticket
  • Had entered my mortgage payment in twice in check register
  • Unexpected reimbursement for items purchased in 9/2013

Total increase? $4,423!!!

Now I am giving thanks to God for His faithfulness! As verse 12 promises, the results will be thanksgiving to God.

What can you sow today – not to get the increase – but so that God will be glorified and thanked?

The Best Fixing

Hopeless.  Helpless. Wanting to fix. Desiring change.GirlFixingBike These feelings are swirling around me these past few weeks. In my close circle of friends there are so many crises and struggles that I sense I can do nothing about. Fixing a marriage that is not only on the rocks but is beaten by the waves is not in my power. Stopping the ravages of cancer that are destroying two of my friends is not in my skill set. Providing the money to meet significant financial needs is not in my bank account.  Relieving the stress of a huge workload that appears to only grow larger by the moment is not in my ability. And then when the eight character text, pls pray, comes across my iPhone screen my heart is gripped and my stomach is in knots because I feel so helpless because prayer is all I can do.

So with reluctance and not much faith, I cry out to my God. I don’t know what to say…I can’t give Him a plan to fix I pray in the Spirit. I beg for relief. I intercede and slowly God does a work on my heart. It is true I can’t fix, stop, provide or relieve but He can.

He is the Restorer of broken walls.

He is the Healer of our bodies.

He is the Provision for all our needs.

He is the Way Maker when there seems no way.

So my helplessness is really a gift to my friends and to myself. In my helplessness, I turn to the only One who can make a difference. I lean into the One who is made strong in my weaknesses. I cry out to the One whose ears are inclined to me.

And then the peace comes, the Prince of Peace, and I realize the best “fixing” I can do for my friends is praying.

What about you? Are you turning to Him? Are you leaning in to Him? Are you crying out? May we not think that prayer is the last resort but know that it is the first and only resort.

The Wonder of Technology!

Social MediaThe wonder of technology! Or is it? I see the post that she exercised for the fourth time this week and I feel guilty.

I see the photo about her girl’s trip to the beach and I feel alone.

I see the text “read receipt” is an hour old and feel angry because they haven’t answered my question.

I see that he has checked out my profile (yes, I have been known to do online dating) but never replied and I feel rejected.

I see the new sofa pinned on her board and I feel covetous.

Maybe it is just me that reacts that why and if so, please send in the biblical counselors!!  But if not help me work out the balance in all of this.  You see, as I considered this post, I was reminded of a comment from David Platt’s book, Radical.  As he was sharing his concern about all the money the Church spends on buildings he was sitting in a multi-million dollar facility.  He saw the problem but he don’t know all the solutions.

I have accounts on multiple (5 just off the top of my head) social media sites.  I have an iPhone, iPad mini and MacBook Air.  I have wifi at all of my homes and offices and if I am on the road, the iPhone has a hotspot and the mini has cellular connectivity.  Talk about being plugged in!!  Now, my excuse can be my job as a self-employed consultant who travels a lot.  And I can also use the excuse that because I am single I need multiple lines of connectivity.

But there has to be boundaries in there somewhere, right?  My problem is that I am an all or nothing girl!  My boundaries usually include deactivating my accounts and getting a stupid phone.  Is this really the solution?

Would welcome your thoughts on this situation and you now that you can always find me plugged in somewhere!


imsis047-078"All my life I have been called unworthy..." Oh my goodness, can I just be real with y'all?  This so describes me!  Not that this describes who I was or used to be a long time ago but this often describes me on any given day!  Well, actually until I heard Big Daddy Weaver's song, Redeemed, two weeks ago it was my daily mantra.

With that kind of daily mantra, I would do some crazy things to earn my worth.  Before Christ it included lots of immoral stuff, trying to feel worthy.  Then after Christ, despite knowledge of the Word and great counseling, I would often believe I was unworthy and so then I had to earn my worthiness.  Work harder, faster.  Produce more.  Please everyone around you.  Manipulate here.  Exaggerate there.  Anything to silence that voice...

Then a friend who knows me so well, sent me Redeemed (now that is a true friend!)  And when I heard this line in the middle of the song, the lightbulb - no, it was a flood light - went off.  Here is the entire line:

"All my life I have been called unworthy...named by the voice of my shame and regret."

It wasn't a parent or a teacher or a coach or a friend who had called me unworthy but it came from the voice of my shame and regret!!  I could silence the voice not by performing better or pleasing more people.  I could silence the voice by walking in the fact that I am redeemed and that my shame was paid for on the cross and my regrets can be released to Him who cares for me.

Is the voice always silent?  No...I am still living in a fallen world and in a body of flesh that is so prone to sin. However, when the voice calls out, "Unworthy! Unworthy!"  I can respond, "Redeemed!!  Redeemed!!" and the voice goes silent.

How about you?  What's your daily mantra?  Do you hear the voice?  Can you cry out, "Redeemed!"?

AutoZone Encounter

There I was…just minding my own business at the AutoZone on Election Day 2012 when I heard the man at the register next to me say to the cashier, “You know if Romney wins he won’t let you have an abortion if you get raped.”  “Oh Lord,” I thought, “I only have a few minutes before my next appointment and I just wanted to get this wiper.  Surely he will not turn to me and tell me that, will he?” “Ma’am, can I ask you a question?  Do you know that if Romney wins…”  I think you get the picture.  Despite what might be racing through your mind if you know me well it was a VERY good experience.  We were both vocal (read loud) but civil.  We were passionate but appropriate.  We were discussing but not arguing.  We didn’t interrupt and we listened to both sides.

Here are just a few snippets of the debate:

Me:  Well, sir, it doesn’t matter to me what Romney does…if I am raped, I would not have an abortion.  Just because a baby’s daddy is a jerk doesn’t mean he or she shouldn’t live.”

AutoZone Customer:  Really.  But it is not a baby.

Me:  If it is not a baby, what is it?

AutoZone Customer:  Well, just not fully formed.

Me:  I am 47 years old and I am not fully formed – emotionally, mentally, physically – I will change.

AutoZone Customer:  Right, but it is still not really a human.

Me:  Really?  Unique DNA at conception.  Heartbeat detectable by 20 days.  At 10 weeks gestation all vital organs and systems have been created.  If it is not a baby, what is it?

AutoZone Customer:  Well, maybe it is a baby.  But I think a woman should have the choice.

Me:  The choice to end the life of her unborn baby?

AutoZone Customer:  But if my daughter was raped and she thinks she couldn’t handle the stress of carrying the baby, I think she should be allowed to have an abortion.

Me:  When the baby is 6 months old, there will be times she thinks she couldn’t handle the stress of being a mom. Is it okay then to kill the baby?

AutoZone Customer:  Of course not!

Me:  Because?

And the debate goes on!   What I loved about the entire time with my friend at AutoZone was that we were having a discussion about abortion.  We were not protesting…yelling..belittling..ridiculing.  He thanked me for the discussion and said, “You showed me some things I hadn’t thought about.  Still think I’d let my daughter have an abortion.”

Oh Lord, may I never be to quick to run from a situation – even an uncomfortable one – but stay and choose to speak in Love.

Discipline - Love/Hate Relationship

Discipline.  A word many of us both love and hate.  I love the discipline of the airline pilot as he goes through his pre-flight procedures….not to fond of it when the TSA agent is doing her job  and throws away a brand new can of hair spray.  Love the discipline of the civil engineers who designed the overpasses on Intestate 4…not excited about the discipline of the Florida Highway Patrolman and his radar gun.  Love watching the results of the discipline of premiere athletes…really hate the discipline of exercise. This weekend I was blessed to watch the discipline of 1,000s of people played out.  I participated in the Walt Disney World Half Marathon as a spectator – see last sentence in paragraph above.  Over 27,000 people ran, walked, jogged and/or slogged (slow jog) their way from Epcot Center, through the Magic Kingdom and back to Epcot – a distance of 13.1 miles.   And there were also quite a few wheelchair racers who blew through that course – several of them multi-amputees.  Still brings tears to my eyes and can cause me some level of shame! Check this out to “feel my pain.”

What is amazing is that 99% of the athletes did it just to do it.  Now they did get a medal – and since this is a Disney event it was a VERY nice medal….suitable for mounting, for sure.  And I would say 90% of these folks spent LOTS of time preparing for this single event.  It took much discipline to go from the couch to the treadmill or to the street and get moving.  Well, the first time it might have been based on some emotional decision but later as the going got rougher – whether that was rainy weather or achy knees or the finances to purchase new shoes – discipline is what kept them going.  Self-discipline.  I am reminded of the verse from I Corinthian 9:27 - I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (New Living Translation)

Discipline is setting your mind to doing something and then buffeting your body to do what your Spirit, soul or mind want to do.  And many ways, it is not punishment because we are WAY more than just flesh and blood.  We can believe, desire and think about doing something all we want but if our body doesn’t engage it is not happening.

So what is your “something?”  Run a half marathon – or a FULL?  Lose 20 pounds?  Clean out the garage?  Have a daily quiet time?  Get out of debt?  Write a book?

Over the next couple of days, I am going to spend time determining what my “somethings” are for 2012 and then I am going to go about disciplining my body to make it happen.

What about you?  Would love to hear what your somethings will be in 2012.  Let’s embrace what we LOVE about discipline – the results and not focus on the part we HATE – the pain of getting the results!


My Christmas and Blogging

Well, it is the new year and I have made a commitment (I am not calling it a new year’s resolution because those are easy to break) to blog more often.  That is not really too much of a stretch since I have not written anything since September 6!! Part of my reluctance to blog is often because I don’t think I have that much to say.  Who am I?  What do I have to write about that is worth anyone’s valuable time to read?  Nobody probably reads it any way, right?  Ok do you see the downward spiral I can talk myself into without much effort?

As has been my tradition for the past 7 years, I went to Andrea and Bowdie Jenkins home for Christmas.  This tradition started the first Christmas I was in Texas when Bowdie called and said, “I always want my boys to wake up with Aunt Beck on Christmas morning.  Will you come here?”  It still brings tears to my eyes and now he has three boys!  My time there was delightful and Andrea, the consummate gift giver (and a gifts lover herself), blessed me with many wonderful gifts one of which was a book by Renee Swope entitled A Confident Heart.

What does my Christmas and blogging have in common?  A lot, when you consider the subtitle of the book:  How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God’s Promises.  From the very first page, I was overwhelmed by how this book was speaking to me and how my doubts, insecurities, etc. have kept me from living out the promises God has for me.  Even the forword by Lysa TerKeurst, president of Proverbs 31 ministry, captured what is so true in my heart.  Let me quote a few lines:

I carried around a little heart-shaped cup and held it out to whatever or whomever I perceived might fill it.

I presented the cup to my education:  “Will you fill me?”

I offered it to my husband:  “Will you fill me?”

I held it out to my child:  “Will you fill me?”

I extended it to my material possessions:  “Will you fill me?”

I presented it to each of my jobs:  “Will you fill me?”

…The more I offered my emptiness, hoping something could fill it, the more inadequate I felt.

I have only gotten through a chapter and a half but I sense this will be a well worn book that I will refer to and re-do for many years to come.  If you get the chance, head to Amazon and check out A Confident Heart's “Click to Look Inside” and at least read the forword…if you are at all like me, you will be adding it to your cart in no time.

Let me know if you do….that is if anyone reads this.


He Sets the Solitary into Families

It was just a casual comment on Facebook...nothing profound, shocking or weighty.  Andrea had simply responded to the fact that I call her sons “my boys.”  She said, “Absolutely – we consider her blood kin now.”  Even as I write that my throat tightens and tears come to my eyes.  You see, the promise God makes in Psalm 68 is a reality in my life...He sets the solitary into families. Since becoming a Christ follower in 1992, I have the joy of being welcomed into many families as if I were their blood kin.  The first family was the Jones’ which then extended to their daughters’ families, the Jenkins’ and the Strickland’s.  The next family that really embraced me, and it happened at almost the same time, are the Riley’s and their daughters’ families, the Warbington’s, Deagle’s and Kirkland’s.  What fun memories come flashing through my mind as I think of the weddings of four of these five daughters!!  I was honored to serve the families at these events.

After moving to Houston, I really began to realize how true it was that I was a part of their family.  Many children have been born into these families since my move, I think six out of seventeen, but they all call me Aunt Beck.  While in Houston, God brought even more families to welcome me into their fold, the Smyth’s from Brandon, Manitoba, the Heath’s from Edisto Beach, SC and the Hulzebos’ from Lakeland, FL!

All of these families are my families.  I would not hesitate, regardless of the hour or the issue, to call any one of them and say I need your help.  I know that they would be there for me.  I could show up at their doorsteps unannounced and they would welcome me in and ask, “Can you stay a long time?”  They have prayed for me, counseled me, rebuked me, supported me and loved me.

During my time in the Middle East, I had much time to reflect on my life.  (Reading Who Are You and What Do you Want? has really helped in facilitating this reflection.)  While there, I missed several “now or never” moments with these families and I don’t want to do that again.  Also, living alone in a culture that is so familial and relational has only increased my resolve to do all I can to develop even deeper relationships with these folks as well as with my biological family.  Having the freedom to live in the Tampa Bay area is such a gift as I am able to spend quantity as well as quality time with my mom, dad, stepmom and brother.

Are you solitary?  Trust God and begin asking Him to settle you in with families.  And don’t be afraid to do life with them.  Are you a family?  Reach out to those who are solitary.  Extend invitations to welcome them into your home for dinner, for ballgame watching or just hanging out.  Be the tool God uses to settle the lonely into families.

To see my "family" as well as some friends, check out this photo album.