Color Should Just Be an Adjective: Praying to See Others as Jesus Sees and Teaching our Children to Do the Same

The past few weeks have taken a toll on my heart. Starting with the death of Ahmaud Arbery and now George Floyd and all that has happened since then. It’s painful to watch the news and see the destruction that is taking place in cities across our country. Hate bringing more hate. Destruction bringing more destruction. And I can’t imagine how it grieves God’s heart to see His people in this place.

Three years ago, I wrote this blog, and I wanted to share again. But with some revisions. At the time, I said, “Color is just an adjective.” But in reality, I should have said, “Color should just be an adjective.” I think it’s very clear that today, it has still not come to fruition. I still believe the change we want to see can come in our children’s generation, but what I didn’t state enough in this piece was that it MUST start with us. And that requires all of us to do some real soul-searching through fervent prayer. For the hidden to be revealed. For us to face our own depravity. And for Truth to win. This is not a battle against flesh and blood, but against the Enemy to us all who wants nothing more than to divide and destroy. I am praying and will continue teaching my children to love and see people like Jesus the best I can. 

I hope this will be an encouragement, my sweet friends:

When my son was four, he came home from Pre-K one day and asked, “Mama, what color am I?” I asked what he thought, and he said, “Well, Derek is dark brown and Josh is light brown and Bo is really white…and I guess I’m kinda pink?” I told him that looked right to me! Why was he asking? Because he wasn’t sure what crayon to use in his self-portrait. 

Today I asked my 5th grade daughter to describe herself. She said she has long brown hair, is smart, likes to tumble, and is responsible. I asked her to describe another good friend in her class. She said she has pierced ears, is smart, always wears cute earrings, and is sweet. That particular friend happens to be black. But you didn’t know that, did you?

That’s because skin color is not the first attribute my children think about. 
Color is just an adjective to them. Like tall, short, old, young, kind, or mean. 
It does not define who a person is. 

My heart hurts when I see the news. It hurts when I see others choosing death over life, in their words and actions. It hurts to think of my children growing up in a world that puts the most importance on outward appearance and not the heart. But how can we change it?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

Our children’s hearts are the key to changing the culture. The culture of hate. The culture of comparison and prejudice. The culture of never enough. The culture of “I want.” The culture of “I deserve this.” The culture of “It’s someone else’s fault.” The culture of selfishness and pride that exists in all of us. But our hearts must be right first.

Talk about the Lord and why He came. Talk about His love for everyone.  Talk about His forgiveness for all who call on His name. Talk about obedience to Him. Talk about the sinner that you are and the amazing grace that saved you. And tell them that in Christ we are all one! 

Then walk the walk that you’ve been talking.

Invite friends of other races over to play. Have conversations with your black friends about how you can help them. Make an effort to understand others points of view and really listen. Speak up and do the right thing, even if it’s hard. And make your actions match your words.

Matthew 22:36-40 says:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The Lord has given us the amazing responsibility of teaching our children to love God and love others. Not just white others. Not just black others. Not just the ones like us. All others. And in order to do that, we must honestly look at our own hearts. 

Many times our children get it right before we do. Watch your children. Listen to them. And learn from them as well. (Matt.18:3)

Describe people by who they are on the inside.
Believe the best about them.
Truly try to see them as the Lord sees them. 
And shine His light with your love.
His saving grace defines all of us.

Color should just be an adjective.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height…The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
Dear Jesus,
We need you so desperately. Draw us closer to you as we seek your face. Help us to love others like you do and teach our children to do the same. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see like you would. Fill our hearts with a longing to have more of you and less of ourselves. Give us courage to truly look at our own hearts and the prejudices that may have taken root. Then help us speak and act boldly as representatives for you to help bring healing to our communities.
In Your Mighty Name,


Encouragement for Walking Through Hard Times

Y’all, these past few weeks have been tough as I’ve asked the Lord to help guide me on a number of issues. For family, friends, kids, work, quarantine wisdom. To help me shine a light and for all to see, by the way I am loving and kind and patient. And I can honestly tell you…that I’ve failed miserably on a number of occasions. My stubbornness and frustrations and anger have gotten the best of me at times. But it doesn’t mean the Lord has left me in those places.

Thankfully, he is merciful and gracious and has given me sweet reminders of how to walk through hard weeks, hard days, and even hard minutes.

Psalm 37 is where He has taken me, and I want to share with you these four things He continues to remind me of, in hopes that they will encourage you too:

1.”Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent…” Psalm 37:18

According to Mirriam-Webster, “day by day” means in small amounts every day. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes want God to just give me a big whopping helping of whatever He’s got for me: peace, joy, patience, goodness, etc. I just want Him to pour it over me so much that I’m drenched and good to go for awhile. But that’s not how He works, y’all. Day. by. Day. In small amounts, He gives us our daily provision. What we need for those 24 hours. It can seem frustrating, but the truth is that if He didn’t, we would not see our need for Him or feel it necessary to call on Him as often. Trust Him and pray for Him to meet your needs…for each day alone.

2.”The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23

I remember having a fever blister many years ago and praying for the Lord to please make it go away before I had to take pictures for something. I had a friend who laughed at my request, but y’all, I don’t doubt that God understood how much that little detail meant to me. I don’t think He ever looks down on our earnest requests and thinks we don’t matter. He delights…in every detail. And as we talk to Him about the concerns of our hearts, little or big, I believe He listens intently and helps direct our steps down His path for our good. It doesn’t mean He always answers like we want Him to, or when we want Him to. But these verses are written reminders of the actions we have seen Him take and can trust that He will do again.

3.”Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:24

Oh, y’all, I have made so many mistakes in my life. And a large amount in the past two months for sure. From a worldly standpoint, my kids have had way too much screen time, way too much junk food, and have seen their mama react, rather than respond, on one or two occasions. Being confined with those I love most can be a recipe for disaster waiting to happen. I’m not afraid to show my true feelings. I let my guard down and my frustrations can be directed at those I love most. But when I have stumbled, when I have fallen away from being the woman the Lord wants me to be, He has always picked me back up. He has given me a number of  “sacred echoes,” or reminders, of Him holding my hand, over the past few weeks, and I continue to reach out for Him over and over. We are going to make mistakes, some big and some little, but don’t stop reaching out and allowing the Lord to hold your hand through hard times. He won’t let go. (Ps.73:23, Is.41:13)

4.”Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along His path.” Psalm 37:34

Steadily: in a controlled or unwavering manner. This one is hard for me. It is so easy to want to jump ahead and see what’s up the road…or fall behind because of fear or anxiety over what’s to come. But the truth is that we are always traveling, y’all. Down our path or His. One or the other. And when I look to see which road I’m on, it usually is dependent on where my hope is. If I’ve gotten frustrated or tired of waiting on the Lord to come through, it’s amazing how that inner need for control can come out, and sometimes unknowingly, my hope shifts to being in myself. In my own skills or desires. But generally, if this happens, I find myself at a dead end or stuck with a flat tire on the side of the road, pretty quickly. When I’m on His road, though I may not be moving at the pace I’d like, I have no fear or concern for my safety. I see His light and His “footprints” ahead of me as needs are met and doors are opened. But it is as I take each step, one by one, following His, that this happens. Don’t waver in the hope you have in the Lord, y’all. He will guide us, steadily along, in His time.

Our God is a good God. He can be trusted. And He will continue to be with us, y’all.

Day by day. In every detail. Holding our hands. As we travel steadily with our hope in Him.


For Those Who Wonder if God Will Be Faithful…To Them

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with a sweet girl’s bible study group about the word “faithfulness.” We talked about faithfulness as a Fruit of the Spirit and what that looks like in our own lives. We talked about God’s faithfulness to His people, and we talked about faithfulness as a quality we would look for in friends.

Now let me say, I believe every word I shared with those girls wholeheartedly. I find joy in telling others about the amazing gift of God’s faithfulness to Joseph and Ruth and so many other heroes of the Bible. I have no problem sharing how God will be faithful to them in their own lives. But can I be honest? In the past few weeks it has been hard, and there may have been days I have started to wonder if God would be faithful to me, personally, in spite of what I know to be Truth.

It doesn’t make sense, does it? That I could tell others over and over that God will take care of them, stay by their side, love them, provide for them, protect them, and bring them comfort and peace. Yet still feel uncertain in my own heart for myself?

But here’s why it does. Because Satan, the ultimate liar and deceiver is alive and well. He knows our weaknesses and would love nothing more than to silence those who know the Lord and are willing to share His goodness. The little doubts, the little whispers that tell us we’re not enough, that we have failed, that we are insignificant, and that our hearts don’t matter as much as others are straight up lies, my sweet friends. And I rebuke them in Jesus’ name. For all of us. For you. And for me.

When those times come, the only thing left to do, the thing we MUST do, is remind ourselves of Truth. So, here are the three things I shared with those sweet girls (that we should all remember) when we doubt God’s faithfulness in your own lives. Post them. Claim them. Memorize them. And share them with someone else who may need your encouragement as well:

1.God has been faithful in the past, and He will be in the future.

Faithfulness is defined as “true to one’s word” or “consistent with trust.” My definition is “when you can believe someone is going to do what they say they’re going to do.” And y’all, God lives up to these definitions. Time and time again, in the Bible, in my friend’s lives, and in my own life, I have seen God be faithful. It wasn’t always in my timing. Or in the way I would have chosen. But He has never abandoned or forsaken me or those I love. And because I have seen His goodness in the past and believe His Word…I am assured it will continue in the future.

“Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Deut.7:9

“God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says…” 1 Cor.1:9

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

2. Actions speak louder than words, and our God is a God of action.

Y’all, we can trust that God’s words are true because He is God. But if you need even more confirmation of God’s faithfulness, just look to what He does. I don’t know that there is any passage in the Bible that doesn’t include some sort of verb-action word-to describe the Lord at work. Next time you read, try to underline/highlight the action words for assurance that the Lord is not absently standing by, but is actively working in your life. In Psalm 23 alone, it says “He leads, renews strength, guides, protects, comforts, and prepares the way.” I challenge you to make lists of all the action words you find in relation to what the Lord is doing in your life, even when you can’t see it, and pray for Him to make those things real to you.

“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33:4

“But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” John 5:17

3. The faithlessness of people does not affect the faithfulness of God.

Oh, y’all. This one is hard because so many of us relate what we know about people to what we think we know about God. But let me tell you this. People will disappoint you. People will hurt you. People will be unfaithful to their word. Because people are imperfect and sinful. But God is not people.

The actions and words of “mere mortals” on this Earth should not and cannot be compared to the actions and words of Almighty God. For all of those who hurt…whose pain and uncertainty has turned to fear of ever trusting anyone again…including God, please give Him a chance to heal your broken hearts.

Read His word, ask Him to come near, and remember that when others are faithless…He will always be faithful.

“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? Certainly not!…” Romans 3:3-4

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19


My sweet friends, when life is uncertain like it is right now, we may wonder if God will be faithful. Not necessarily to the world at large or our state or our church because it’s usually easier to speak boldly in general terms. But we may wonder if He will be faithful to us, individually.

In our own little homes, in our own little corner of the world, where we feel unseen and very small in the grand scheme of things. But I tell you now, don’t fear. Don’t turn away. And don’t doubt how very loved you are. He will be faithful…to you.


Maggie’s Article Links from Other Websites

Hey guys! These are some of the articles I have had published in the last few months! I hope they are a blessing.

Following Jesus in 2020: Is It Worth It?:

Is God Trying to Stir Your Heart?:

3 Ways to Be A Peacemaker:

The ‘Rite’ Person:

The Most Powerful Choice:

The Most Powerful Choice

When Our Children Face Rejection and Failure:

What to Do When You Feel Depleted:

Dear Mama, I Have Seen that Look Before:

Is God Really Big Enough?:

For Those in the Waiting:

Hope For Every Generation:

The Crooked Tree

When I was a little girl, there was a tree in the curve of the road that I looked for with wide eyes each time we went to see a friend of mine. It was a young pine tree, mixed in with others that were much larger, but it wasn’t just any old tree. Its’ trunk had grown in the shape of an S…and we lovingly referred to it as our “crooked tree.” I had not been able to find it in many years, but not long ago, my sister went for a run and sent me a picture…of our crooked tree, all grown up.

You see, I couldn’t locate it because I had been looking for it as I remembered it. But as the years have gone by, our tree has grown with a straightened trunk and now stands above the others around it. I didn’t recognize it and couldn’t help but wonder how the base of the trunk straightened itself out, so I decided to do some research.

As it turns out, I found this on a blog by CLC Tree Services:
“…sometimes a tree gets a little crooked, not because of people or natural disasters, but because it is searching for the best place to grow. It’s called phototropism and it is when a tree grows towards the light…”

And it hit me. That crooked tree is a lot like me, y’all. And maybe, a lot like you.

When we start to grow up, we are surrounded by the voices and opinions and invitations of others, many older than us, to do things that might not be best. We may take a crooked path as we make mistakes and try to find our way. But above us, and around us, without fail, is the Light, Jesus, who is always trying to draw us to Himself. If we continue to seek Him, even though we get turned around and twisted up along the way, we will find Him. Just like my crooked tree.

But here’s the coolest thing. The S shape is still there. Just because my tree straightened up eventually, the bends that had been made over the years did not go away. They remain as a reminder of the growth journey that tree has had.

So, if you are in a crooked place right now…don’t stop looking for Jesus. Don’t stop trying to grow! On this weekend, thousands of years ago, Jesus came for the crooked. For those trying to find their way. For those who have made mistakes…and need the Light to straighten them out. He didn’t die for nothing, and His sacrifice must not be forgotten. He died for you…and for me. For all of us who so desperately need a Savior to straighten us out.

If you are “straightened out” to some degree right now (please know, we will still make mistakes). Don’t forget where you’ve been. Don’t take for granted the One who forgives and saves you over and over again. And don’t keep His gift to yourself. Share what Jesus has done for you, and don’t be afraid to stand boldly above the others as you show them the Light of this world.

And for all of us, Lord please open our eyes to really see others around us. I didn’t recognize my old tree because I was looking for something that was still small and bent. But plants grow. People grow. And by the Lord’s grace and mercy, many of us get straightened out.

Love Jesus. Love others. Be thankful for the crooked places in your life, and use them to grow toward the Light.

Happy Easter season, y’all.
Jer.29:13, 2 Cor.4:7


Who Are You Listening To?

Ok, y’all. So something has been on my heart. We are mostly isolated right now. Social distancing…sheltering in place…quarantining…whatever buzz words you choose. And in doing that, we are separated from those who would normally be our voices of reason. Our sounding boards. Our reminders of Truth when a conversation turns south and fear or anxiety starts to win.

And in their places, we find the voices of the media, politicians, and a plethera of “experts” who leave us finding it hard to know who to trust. The news stream offers a consistent dialogue of uncertainty and doom on every front, with very little to lift our spirits. And I can’t help but feel that many are left wondering who will rescue them from this uncertain time.

I am reading a Psalm a day right now, and as I studied Psalm 3, I found that not much has changed when it comes to people searching for deliverance…and doubting the One who is the ultimate Deliverer:

So many are saying, “God will never rescue Him.” Psalm 3:2

Psalm 3 was written by David when his son, Absalom, was pursuing him, and he was literally running for his life. In verse 2, the people around him…the “so many”… proclaimed that God would never rescue him. And I imagine, his heart and mind were close to despair as fear, anxiety, and heartbreak threatened to overtake him.

But David knew the Lord. And he not only knew Him, but He believed that God would do what He said He would. And so immediately in verse 3, David replied, “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.”

I’m sure that many of you have heard the Lord called our shield before, and in the past, I have always loved that image because I imagined him as a strong wall, protecting me and covering me in times of trial…almost like a shelter. But this time, I realized something I hadn’t before.

In verses 7-8 of Psalm 3, David exclaims, “Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O Lord…” Wow! A little harsh there, right? That didn’t match the image I had in my mind of the Lord as a shield, until I studied a little more and found that a shield was used for offensive AND defensive purposes. It could be used to knock an opponent back when needed…just as the Lord can be fierce as well. He is more than capable of handling the most fearsome adversaries, whether a person or a virus or an economic crash.

Y’all, the Lord has us covered on all sides as he fights AND defends. 

Not only that, but these are what the Lord does for us WHILE we are hidden behind His shield: He lifts our heads (v.3), He answers our cries (v.4), He watches over us and allows us to rest (v.5), He eliminates fear (v.6), and He fights for us and rescues us (v.7).

What an amazing picture, ya’ll! He is working on center stage and behind the scenes…even when others can’t see. Like the song says, even when we don’t feel it, He’s working. Even when we don’t see it, He’s working.

Y’all, I don’t know what the next few weeks, or months, hold for our nation, but I do know that as we “shelter in place”…our focus should not be so much on the action of sheltering…as on the type of Shelter we choose.

I don’t believe David doubted that God would rescue Him. That He would be his strength and shield. But the people around Him did. And the voices of fear and uncertainty and doom and gloom can be so very loud.

Decide today who you are going to listen to, my sweet friends. Be informed. Seek wise counsel here on Earth from those you trust. But don’t allow the background noise of your heart and mind to be those who promote anxious thoughts. Don’t listen to those who doubt the power and the might and the goodness of God.

David chose to trust his Lord. He chose the ultimate Shelter and Shield. And he ultimately, chose faith over fear. And we can too.


3 Blessings in the Midst of Coronavirus Uncertainty

Y’all, this has been a week full of uncertainty. Fear for our health and those we love, anxiety over daily provision for small business owners, disappointment over cancellations of sporting events, and so many decisions being made that are out of our control. It can be scary and lead us to question what the Lord is doing in all of this, if anything.

So yesterday I just started reading the Word…no rhyme or reason…but just turning and flipping and soaking up all of the beautiful reminders of God’s goodness and faithfulness. I went through Psalms and Ecclesiastes and then went back to Job. As I read the pages, I came to a verse I studied recently that jumped back off the page:

“By means of their suffering, He rescues those who suffer. For He gets their attention through adversity.” Job 36:15

For He gets their attention through adversity…

Y’all, if I’m honest, our country’s attention needs to be gotten. There is so much political strife and disregard for Truth. I think we’ve been “majoring on the minors” as my Pastor Steve used to say, and need so desperately to focus on what really matters most.

In Deuteronomy 8 and 9, we are reminded of our great need for the Lord and advised to never forget all of the ways He has taken care of us (I recommend reading yourself because they are loaded passages!) But more than that, they point out three ways the Lord gets our attention and blesses us in times of so much uncertainty. I pray these three areas will help you keep your focus on the majors in the coming weeks.

1.We lose the illusion of self-sustaining power and get to witness God’s provision.

My husband and my father, who I work for, own small businesses. As orders are cancelled and people don’t come in, it can be a scary time. And it brings the realization that we cannot provide for our families in our own strength. We must rely on the Lord for our daily bread and trust that He is the good, faithful Father we know Him to be…even when times are hard. He has provided in the past…and He will in the days to come.

“He did all this so you would never say to yourself, “I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.” Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…” Deut.8:17-18

“Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what He has made crooked? Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.” Ecc.7:13-14

“When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn…” Psalm 142:3

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matt.6:26

2.We gain time to refocus on the Lord and our families as our schedules are cleared.

I like control of my own little universe. And it is full. I don’t know that there’s one date on my calendar without something on it. But do you know what else? I can’t tell you how many times I pass my Bible on the coffee table and want to sit down and spend time with the Lord, but something else has taken precedence as more urgent at the time. I am guilty of putting last things first and first things last, and I have a hunch I’m not alone. 

The Israelites were known for doing the same thing, as they chose one thing after the other over the Lord. I’d like to think I’m different, but the truth is, I’m not. Sometimes the Lord forces us into uncomfortable places when we won’t follow His lead to begin with. Sometimes He pushes us out of our comfort zones into slower paces and spaces so we can see Who matters most. And sometimes He opens our eyes to the precious blessings that are right in front of us when we don’t recognize them for ourselves because of the hustle and bustle of life. 

Take time to enjoy your loved ones during this time, y’all. Calm your little one’s fears with reminders of God’s goodness and how He has been faithful before. Use these days to point them to Him and refill your own hearts and minds with Truth. And show them the One to cling to when uncertain times come.

“Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn.” Deut.10:16

“Then I pray to you, O Lord, I say, “You are my place of refuge, You are all I really want in life.” Psalm 142:5

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish…Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in His ways and holding tightly to Him.” Deut.11:18-22

3. We have the opportunity to make a stand and claim faith over fear.

There are people who are in panic mode about what is to come. They are afraid of sickness, economic downfall, and death. But y’all, as believers in Jesus, we know that this world is not all there is. We know that ultimately, there is only One who is in control. He knows what has been and what is to come. He goes behind and before. And He is not one bit surprised by the circumstances we find ourselves in now. 

Because we know that, we can hold on to a peace and a hope and a faith that says, “I know my God is for me. He loves me and those I love more than I ever could. And He will never leave me.” And then, we can share that with the world. I encourage all of you to post scripture around your home and workplaces, so that when fear creeps in, when the “what ifs” seem to be winning, that you have visual reminders to cling to and claim and speak out loud in the name of Jesus. Here are a few favorites:

“He hems me in behind and before, He has laid His hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5

“He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” Col.1:17

“Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” Col.3:2

“The Lord will work out His plans for my life-for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.” Ps.138:8

“I look up to the mountains-does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the One who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as yoru protective shade…The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” Ps.121:1-5,8

“For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything He does.” Ps.33:4

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.” Ps. 37:7

“Why am I discouraged? Why am I so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise my Savior and my God!” Ps 42:5

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.” Ps.4:8

Sweet friends, times of adversity are never easy. There are more questions than answers right now. More inconveniences and frustrations and fears than we know what to do with. But there are blessings in the mess. There are lessons in the mess. And there is a Savior in the mess, who is always working for our good.

Pray for God’s provision in the coming weeks. Refocus on the Lord and your family. Claim faith over fear. And pray for those who don’t know the Lord to see Him in a very real way. 


What Really Matters

Y’all, last night, we had one of our favorite families over for dinner. Our kids are around the same age, we have common interests, and they are just fun people! The kind of friends that are easy and laid back and comfortable inviting into your own crazy, ya’ know what I mean? Well, as my friend and I were chatting it up in the kitchen, she stopped, turned her attention to my refrigerator, and said something to the effect of, “Oh look at you being such a great mom…I want to hear all about this!” 

It took a minute for me see what she was referring to, but once I did, I immediately responded, “Oh we don’t actually do that!” with a little laugh. I explained that it was a chore-chart-rotation-thingy that I attempted to copy from a more put-together mom the summer before, that only lasted for a few weeks on and off. I kept it up in hopes that we would get it together at some point and stick to it. But that hadn’t happened so far…

She laughed, and I couldn’t help but feel there was a little sigh of relief too. Because she was realizing I didn’t have it all together either. And it occurred to me that things in my home could give off the illusion of an organized life if people didn’t know any better.

Little do they know that the dry erase calendar posted in my den has only been updated this month after staying on November for quite some time. That the “What’s Cooking?” meals and days of the week written on my kitchen chalkboard are from four weeks ago. That the end table in the playroom is covering a nasty, sticky, gunky something  that my children spilled and left there to magically disappear on it’s own, and we haven’t gotten to it yet. That the Christmas card pile on our breakfast table has only had two cards pulled to pray over in the last two months. Y’all, everything isn’t always what it seems.

I am here to tell you that I get a number of things right…but I get more wrong. And let me clarify.

The things I am working to get right are not so much keeping the chalkboard up-to-date or staying on schedule with the chore chart. Those are admirable goals. But I’m talking about the things that matter most.

Paul said, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” Philippians 1:9-10

We can get so bogged down with keeping up appearances and running to activities and checking off our to-do lists, that we forget what matters most, y’all. Or at least I do many days.

So, as I try to keep my focus on the three things that really matter, I thought I’d post them here for you too. This isn’t anything new, y’all. Just a refresher for those of us who tend to major on the minors sometimes.

1.Love God.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, yes and no. It’s easy to say, “I love you God.” But do we show it? Do we live out that love like other relationships?

I recently heard Shelia Walsh speak, and one of the things that resonated most with me was a story about how the Lord feels when we come to see Him. She said that He squeals with delight, “She came!” because He loves spending time with us so much.

Psalm 27:8 says, “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” But y’all, there are many days I feel that calling…and I never make it. I choose other events or responsibilities over my time with Him. And when I am not as connected to Him, I am not as loving or peaceful or joyful or kind…because time with Him affects time with everyone else.

We have to nurture our relationship with Him the way we do others. He matters most, y’all.

2. Love people.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39

This could be a long one.:) So simple, and yet so complex. But at the heart of it, I think it really comes down to this:

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” Philippians 2:3-5

To love others well, we have to be attentive to their needs…and not our own. We have to realistically look at our faults and recognize our own depravity and humbly say, “Lord, I don’t know why you love me, but help me serve others in your name. Help me to love others with a real love. Help me to see people as you see them and listen and respond to their needs not for what I will get, but because I serve you.”

3. Tell everyone what He’s done.

Once we are striving to love God and love people well, the only thing left to do is spread the amazing “reason for the hope that we have” (1 Peter 3:15) with others.

“Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.” Psalm 105:1

Your “whole world” may be your husband and kids. It may be your co-workers and friends. It may be more widespread through social media or a blog. But y’all, people need to know that the Lord is real. That He is continually working and loving and providing and protecting and teaching and saving us over and over again.

If the Lord has moved in your life, don’t allow fear or worry over what people will think hinder you from sharing. Tell someone, even if it’s one person. He can and will use you, no matter how small or insignificant you think your story might be, sweet friends.

Love God. Love people. And share what He is doing in your life, y’all. And if you come to my house anytime soon, the chore chart will probably still be on hold. Remember that I get some things right, and I get a lot wrong, but my heart is to love you well and show you Jesus. I’m working on majoring on the majors, and I pray you will too.

6 Questions to Help Our Kids Choose Friends Wisely

I recently read an article by Greg Trimble called “The Most Dangerous Temptation That Faces our Youth” and it was completely on point as it named that temptation as our children’s friends. Those friends, more than any other earthly influence, will help them determine their steps in the day to day.

As moms and dads who love the Lord, we share scripture, we try to plant seeds in their hearts for Jesus, we love and encourage. But then we pray, wait, watch, and hope for the best as they go out into the world each day. We do not have the privilege of making choices for our kids. We do not have the opportunity to help steer their steps as they approach each fork in the road. And we shouldn’t…even though it is so very hard to let them go.

But on many occasions at school, sporting events, social gatherings, and even church, our kids will not be making decisions alone. They will have friends whose opinion and direction they will seek. So how do we help them choose that inner circle of friends that we know will help them be men and women after God’s own heart and not the things of this world?

I have six things I pray out loud for my own children each morning on the way to school, and I believe they are some of the keys to look for in close friends as well. These are my go-to for thinking deeper about their own hearts…and their friends…when hard situations arise. So, here are six questions to help determine if a friend is one for their inner circle (and I would say that these apply to adults as well):

1. Do they speak life? So much of our influence comes through the words that we speak. Proverbs 18:21 says that “the tongue has the power of life and death…” and Luke 6:45 tells us that “what you say flows from what is in your heart.” When you are with a friend, are their words lifting people up, encouraging others, and bringing hope? Or are they tearing others down, gossiping, and making you feel bad about yourself? It’s very easy for us to say, “oh, I didn’t mean that” or “that came out wrong.” But as Paul David Tripp expressed, we should really be saying, “I’m sorry for saying what I really meant” even if it was hurtful and ugly. Listen carefully and take people’s words to heart because it tells you a lot about who they are on the inside.

2. Do they guard their hearts and minds from the things of this world? The Bible tells us that whatever goes into our heart and mind will eventually come out in our words and actions. Television, movies, music, apps, social media, YouTube…our world is bombarded with technology at our fingertips. And the things we watch and listen to can’t help but have an effect on the way we live and treat others. Kelly Knause shared a quote from a former pastor that said, “Big doors swing on small hinges of obedience,” and that’s so very true. Each little decision we make can have lasting consequences. When the choice is: rap song with cussing vs. one without, movie with intimate scenes vs. one without, YouTube star whose focus is outer beauty and material things vs. one who focuses on kindness…will there be a decision to go with the first because it’s “popular” or the last? Will they choose opportunities for obedience to God’s word…or acceptance from the world.

3. Do they do the right thing even when it’s hard or embarrassing? It’s so easy to bend to peer pressure. To take a step back and claim ignorance or lack of ability as an excuse for our inaction when we have an opportunity to help. If your best friend is making jokes about another kid, do you tell him to stop? If you have an embarrassing moment, does your friend laugh at you with the crowd or come to your aid? If your classmate sends ugly texts about a friend, do you just look away, or tell someone before it gets worse? In 2 Chronicles 34:2, it tells us about King Josiah and that, “He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.” Who will you please? Whose example will you follow? It doesn’t tell us that all of his people did what was right. It says he did. We have to be willing to be that one and choose friends who are too.

4. Do they listen to and obey authority figures? We live in a world where so many tell us to make ourselves happy, to put our own thoughts and opinions above others, and that no one has “the right” to tell us we are wrong. Where parents step in and rescue their children from the consequences of their actions and those same children, as a result, feel free to talk back to their teachers, policemen, and others in leadership. In Deuteronomy, it tells us in numerous places to obey the laws, honor your father and mother, and “do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight” so “all will go well with you.” Rules and boundaries are put in place for our safety and the safety of others. To guard us from things that are not good for us. Story after story in my own life and others, paints a picture of how rebellion from authority figures did not “go well.” We must have a heart of submission and choose friends who do as well to help with the next step.

5. Do they apologize and ask for forgiveness when they’ve done something wrong? Nothing in our lives is more important than knowing how much we need Jesus. But to understand that, humility has to take root in our hearts. One way to know if someone has that is to see how they react and respond when they have messed up. Will they try to make things right…or allow their pride to have control? In friendship, in any relationship, we all mess up. We will all hurt feelings and let others down at some point. But to keep a relationship healthy, we must be able to admit our shortcomings and understand that Jesus is the only one who can help us make amends and do better next time…in His strength and not our won.

6. Do they help you understand how loved and valuable you are to the Lord? We were all created by the King of Kings because we were loved and valued and formed with a purpose in mind. And we all need reminding. We all need mercy and hope and faith and reminders of sustaining grace spoken into our lives from those closest to us. Their support just means more. Jeremiah 29:11 says that the Lord has plans for “good and not disaster, to give a future and a hope” for all of us. We need to know that we have cheerleaders rooting for us to succeed, reminding us of our strengths, and doing all of the things above so we can stand strong together.

Oh y’all, help your children navigate this crazy life by giving them support and encouragement to choose friends who will love them and stand by them like you would. They may not always take your advice. They may not always follow through like you hope. They may even break your heart through their choices, in spite of everything you have taught them. But know that every small seed you plant will not go to waste. One day, it may be watered and then harvested through others the Lord chooses (1Cor.3:6-9).

Keep praying, keep guiding, and keep modeling what true friendships look like. We are all in this together. Col.1:17

When You’re Stabbing at Tomatoes

Have you ever had a plan? Something you wanted so badly for your life? But it didn’t happen in your timing and under your conditions and as you so clearly arranged for it to fall into place? And then you ended up frustrated and ill and feeling like you would never attain that thing or place in life you long for? I have. And it’s a little like stabbing at tomatoes.

Not too long ago, I fixed a green salad for lunch. A little romaine, some cut-up baby carrots, a handful of croutons, a generous helping of Ranch dressing, and of course, some perfectly plump cherry tomatoes to top it off. I was in a hurry that day and decided to dig in so I could finish the salad and get on to the next thing. I quickly stabbed at the salad, trying to get one of those pretty tomatoes on my fork for that perfect bite, but that slippery little sucker shot to the left of the bowl. I stabbed again, and it shot to the right. I stabbed again, and it shot forward! I was feeling a little ridiculous at this point and praying no one was watching(ha!). At this rate, it would take me 30 minutes to finish eating! But then I slowed down, carefully placed the prongs, and was finally able to get that silly tomato to stay put on my fork. I was able to eat each of them, but slowly, one by one. And the Lord showed me that’s a little like life, y’all.

In Zechariah 4, an angel of the Lord is talking with him about plans to rebuild the temple. In verse 6, the Lord gives this message, “It is not by force or by strength, but by my Spirit…” Wow.

Not force. Not strength. By My Spirit.

Oh, y’all. So often we get up in the morning, force ourselves to muster up all of the strength we can in our own flesh, and attempt to go forward with the day. We speak harshly, not in love. We try to move quickly from one task to the next, as we wonder why it doesn’t feel like we’re getting anything meaningful accomplished. We work and push and think and control and direct…and don’t get where we are going.

Because when we have a vision, a goal for our lives, if it is not led by the Lord’s Spirit, it isn’t led at all. No amount of human effort or thought will move us closer to the ending we desire.

Our longings may be big ones. They may be small. but no matter the size, they all have a starting point. In verse 10, the Lord goes on to say, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”

I think so often, we have lofty goals, and in this world of growing instant gratification, we expect to achieve things right away. Want to play a song? Just say, “Alexa-play praise and worship music.” And whadoyaknow? There’s praise and worship music. Forget having to find your tape player, find your tape, fast forward then rewind then fast forward then rewind then fast forward then rewind to find the right song (anyone else been there?).

But y’all, the Lord tells us right here that the Lord rejoices in each tiny step. Each small beginning that is leading down the path He has for us should be celebrated. Isn’t that comforting to remember that though we want to finish the whole “salad” right away, the Lord is wanting us to slow down and just enjoy each perfect little tomato? To take our time, enjoying one bite at a time, instead of chasing tomatoes all over the bowl and eating nothing?

Not force. Not strength. But by His Spirit, y’all. Each small step at a time.

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