Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weed B-Gone

I came upon an interesting site the other day. I thought the county was falling down on its road beautification job because of a weed crawling up a road sign. Then I noticed the weed was coming out from the inside of the sign post.

That's a pretty smart weed. It's basically wearing armor. No weed-whacker I know could cut through a steel sign post. The weed was thriving and getting pretty bold with its tendrils grasping for more leverage.
If you look closely you can see it here.

I would imagine after a while it could overtake the sign and people would miss the caution sign.

I talked to my husband about it and wondered aloud how you could rid the sign post of the adventurous weed. He said it would have to be killed at the root.

“But, it would leave a bunch of dead vines and leaves hanging from the post.” I complained.

It would be a tedious job, yanking and cutting. A little like getting bubble gum out of a shag carpet.
If it had just been taken care of when it started to grow in the pole.

Many times God tries to show me something about life in picture puzzles like that.

And I saw it. Sin is like a weed. And if you don’t catch it early or pull it out by the root, time only makes it a bigger problem to eradicate.

It’s easy to overlook sin too. Some days it is pretty obvious, but most of the time it starts with a small misstep: a sharp word planted in someone’s conversation, a seed of gossip…a casual flirtation that becomes habitual…a hidden seed of bigotry left to grow out of sight. And the next thing you know its as obvious as a large weed growing inside a road sign pole.

The words are recorded, habit is entrenched, prejudice brings fists and the seed grows and bears fruit that tastes of death.

Did you forget a weed by the road you’ve walked? Has it grown up tall and green, inside a protective cover of apathy or deception?

You can let it grow and bear that bitter fruit and taint your own caution sign, your testimony. Or, you can get to work with a confession saws all and pull it up by the roots.

As my pastor likes to say, "Do it now!" And I agree.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 (ESV)

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah  Psalm 32:5 (ESV)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

See Glass

Sometimes when I am collecting shells on the beach, I find small treasures of broken glass. They aren't sharp shards that cut. The ocean has tumbled them into nuggets of what looks like frozen gelatin. The pieces have lost their slicing ability and have a soft beauty.

The colors can range from browns (beer bottles) to greens (soda pop or wine bottles) to blues (medicine bottles). It's interesting how there can be beauty in a broken object. The use is long gone, because the object is in pieces--never to be glued together again. The labels are long gone, the color whispers of a possible past the bottle had.

I like to collect them and keep with my shells, like frozen water droplets. Others create mobiles or wind chimes out of driftwood and fishing line. Still others make one-of-a-kind jewelry.

What has been broken in your life dear reader? How many out there have shattered dreams, lost loved ones or fragmented lives all jumbled together and cutting deep? No matter how you try to carry it, a sliver works it's way into your heart.

Some days I will visit the ocean at sunrise. I pour out my broken heart to God and my tears mingle with the salt spray. And He takes my fragile pieces and tumbles them in the waves and washes my soul.

I still have the broken pieces, but the edges are worn soft and the labels are washed away. He creates something new out of them. Something to share with others. The beauty of healing shines through and I can move forward and know that a new purpose has come out of that pain...

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
Psalm 56:8

Saturday, May 09, 2015


We have deep ditches on both sides of the road into our neighborhood. During the hurricane season, these can be full and overflowing. While driving one evening, I came upon a stopped car with it's warning lights blink-blinking. When I stopped to wait to drive around, I looked at the ditch beside the car and noticed the top of a man's head. (Did I mention these are deep ditches?) I immediately thought the car had knocked some cyclist in the ditch.

I got out to help and called, "Sir are you OK?" I heard a muffled reply.

I calmed my squeamish nerves and prepared to help an accident victim. I followed the tracks of small wheels to where his head was bobbing. They seemed too small and numerous for bicycle tracks. Then I realized with even more squeamishness it was not a bicycle in the ditch but a riding lawnmower.

The man was OK--he had all his appendages and there was no blood. But his mower, his zero-turn- large-deck-expensive looking-riding lawnmower was sinking into the muck of the ditch. He was knee deep in water, trying to tie a rope on the frame to haul it out.

I called again, "Sir, I didn't hear you--are you OK?"

"Yeah I'm fine." Not even turning his head, he wrestled with a sturdy knot.

"Can I call someone?"

"No, I'm good. Don't need help." His tone was short and I decided the only injury was to his pride.

As I got into my car to leave, his wife got out of the vehicle with the blinking warning lights and gave me a sheepish wave. I wondered how many had stopped to offer him help and he waved them off? We live in redneck country and must've been a truck with a good winch on it within a couple blocks.

Sometimes people don't want help with their messes. It's true in life too. You have a friend who suddenly is quiet--they don't text or call. You haven't seen them around for a couple weeks and you check in on them. You can tell in their eyes they are struggling with something.

You ask, "Are you OK?" and they answer, "Fine".

For me that word "fine" is a four letter word. "Feeling Inadequate Need Encouragement" is more like what's really going on.

They have hit a ditch and they are struggling to get out. They took a wrong turn or made a bad choice and they are off road emotionally. Their wheels are deep in the muck or up a tree. They are convinced they can get themselves out of the predicament by their own power. The problem is their pride. They figure if people will just drive around them and leave them to their own struggle, they will get back on the road...eventually.

That's a hard life. Sure they can say they "won" several battles. But did they really? How many times have they seen that same ditch?

The Bible says it's better to have friends who will help you out of those emotional or spiritual ditches.

By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (MSG)

I want to encourage you to find some friends who will hold you up during your F.I.N.E. moments. People who don't gossip and have known your quirks and weaknesses for a while. My prayer is that they just show up with their tools. And remember to reciprocate. There is nothing like a friend who has been down that same road.

The man finally got his mower out of the ditch. Car and mower were gone by the time I was back down the road to home. But I wondered, will his pride be enough to get him through the next time something like this happens? And will he be able to laugh about it later? I hope so...I hope it wasn't his wife that planted the mower in the ditch.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Got rhythm?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a drummer. I wanted to be the one in the background of the song that kept it moving forward, the one who would set the pace and add an exclamation point to the tune with a cymbal crash. I loved the softer rhythm as well, the swish of the drumbrush that sounded more like a broom gathering up all the notes and dumping them into my lap. The bass drum was like a heart beat...sometimes I could feel it in my chest.

Drummers were used in battle as a kind of communication. The enemy could hear the drums coming way before the soldiers arrived. They could announce the charge or retreat. They could round up the soldiers for a march. The drummer could encourage the war weary who needed to take one more hill. Or, they could induce a solemn feeling as a flag was raised and lowered to half-staff.

I love to see a military drummer or a historical reenactment that bring the sound of the past to life. Even a high school band with their drummers make the dust bounce on the ground as they march by. I think my favorite thing to watch is a competition between two school drum lines. They face off in the middle of a football field instead of a battle field and make those drums talk.

I like to think of the Holy spirit as my own personal drummer. I try to let Him set the tone of my day in the early morning by reading scripture. I find a few verses that I can meditate on all day and the drum in my spirit gets louder.

The cadence gets my feet moving and sometimes bids me to be still. The bass drum is there with a thud, and I feel it in my chest. As long as I have breath, I know the Spirit's rhythm is there. And the enemy won't beat me, because my heart is already engaged in the drum roll of heaven.

“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.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


This week I had a couple friends that were caught in anxiety. I was trying to come up with some encouragement and a bible verse came to mind:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Immediately a picture of a man, knee deep in water, tossing a cast net into the waves came to mind.

I thought that was a nice picture. Just throw your anxiety out into the water and be done with it. But no, God was showing me something else. Anxiety is the net.

Anxiety is like a net, and we are the not-so-bright fish that are caught in the trap. We are swimming along in the shallow water of life and then we aren't. We are wrapped in a tangled grip of nylon and lead weights...and the more we struggle, the tighter the net wraps around us.

We find ourselves on shore in the hot sun, gasping like we ran a marathon and the fisherman standing over us...pulling out his scaling tool and fish knife.

I know that sounds a bit over dramatic, but if you've ever had a real anxiety's as if your heart is being wrenched from your chest and you can't breathe. It is debilitating and frightening.

So what is the solution? Anxiety is triggered by things we believe are true, whether its our job security, bills or family situation...we are very sure that the thing we dread is going to come true and our body reacts with the fight or flight response. Our breathing gets faster, our mind starts trying out all kinds of possibilities, our heart rate picks up and still there seems no way out of the situation.

So what if we introduced into our mind what is true about God?

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25

What if we started to look up His promises to us about being our provider, our healer and our concerned Father? What if we started thanking Him for the little things as well as the big things?

I have found that the enemy always starts with our heads. If he can get us to believe we are what he says we are, then we stop believing what God says we are. And once we start doubting what God says, we are back in the Garden with Adam and Eve...staring into the eyes of that serpent that hissed, "Did God really say..." (Genesis 3:1)

Could it be that simple? It could be. Maybe it's time to start swimming in the deeper water of study. Pick up your Bible, find a passage that speaks to you and dive in. There are no nets there.

It's when we go swimming in shallow worry that we find ourselves already caught.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dumpster Diving

There were these two people, standing in a dumpster. (No, it's not a joke unfolding.) Were they private investigators, looking for evidence of a crime? No. Were they blackmailers looking for stuff to hold over their neighbors? No. Maybe they were hungry? No. They were two desperate people, looking for a money order that was accidently thrown away.

In their flurry of taking out the trash the night before, a scrap of paper was tossed in the white bag, tied up and tossed in the dumpster. Mercifully, it was not the day the truck was supposed to come. If it had, I would imagine those two friends would've been more frantic and maybe even chained themselves to the dumpster...well maybe not that, it's only money.

So they stood with gloves on and the lovely aroma of other people's trash in their nostrils, looking at probably 30 or more identical garbage bags. The treasure hunt ended successfully. They found it, a little wet and a little smelly. They were very thankful it was not the dead heat of summer or a crazy rainstorm.

I would imagine their neighbors thought they had lost their mind. But these friends knew there was buried treasure there. They knew the price of it and were willing to get dirty to dig it out.

Jesus is like that. He knows the value of people and was willing to go into "the dumpster" to be with them and lead them out.

While traveling, He went out of His way and walked to Samaria. (Samaria was avoided by all upstanding Jews.) He sat at a Samaritan well in the heat of the day, to speak to a woman who had a questionable reputation. (John 4:1-30)

When He was in the midst of ministry, there was a desperate leper who came to Him for healing. Walking near this man would've been out of the question, much less touching him. But Jesus did touch him, and healed him.

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” Mark 1:40-41 (ESV)

Even during dinner, He was approached by an obvious woman of ill repute and allowed her to touch His feet. Even with the party host fuming at the invasion, Jesus took the time to show her love.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner. Luke 7:39 (ESV)

Have you ever gone out of your comfort zone for Jesus? Have you ever visited someone in prison, gone to the bedside of the dying or said a kind word to the stumbling drunk in the parking lot?

Jesus didn't promise following Him would be soft pews, stained glass and pretty music. He said to leave the 99 sheep and go after the one that is lost.

Expect brambles and mud outside. Expect to be judged by your peers or strangers. You may even have to take a trip into places you never would've thought you would go like a distant land that is hostile to Christians. Because the lost sometimes find the most obnoxious places to run away to. Jesus wants us to go after them, because He did. If you're worried about the smell or the dirt, it will wash off. But the treasure you will find is priceless!

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20 (ESV)

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44 (ESV)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Sometimes the way out is the way inside...

We were heading down the hall out of the movies one evening and saw an obvious couple coming in the EXIT by way of a group of people. The door is usually locked and no entrance is allowed to the theater except by way of the lobby after you pay for your tickets. I remembered kids doing that when I was a teen (eons ago). Sometimes they were caught-but other times they weren't.

At our church we are getting ready to do an outside facelift. We have been entering via an exit door on the parking lot side. It's a little confusing to new visitors, especially if it's closed or locked. That is, until a smiling face opens it from the inside and assures them that's the way inside.

I was a little wistful at the thought of the sign on the door possibly changing or being removed. When I see that exit sign, I feel like I am exiting the World for a couple of hours to meet with God and His people. I can totally focus on music, prayer and scripture and it fills me. Leaving the World and it's worries outside on the hot parking lot asphalt, I welcome the Living Water that refreshes my soul.

There is a gate in Jerusalem that has been sealed. No one can enter or exit through this gate. It's called the Eastern Gate or the Beautiful Gate. Ezekiel 44:1-3 speaks of it staying closed until the return of the Messiah. Once before it was open and this is how God's glory came in to fill the temple. Another time it was when Jesus rode into the city on a donkey and was received as a king. They say when Jesus returns the final time, the Eastern Gate will open to receive Him.

Some think that the door to heaven is sealed shut for them; locked tight and entry is forbidden. Others think this door is wide open for anyone to stroll through--whether they believe in God or not.

Can I tell you something? Heaven's door is like an EXIT door. It's the way God came down to be with us. He exited heaven and became a baby, lived with humans for 30 something years and returned after His resurrection from a horrible death.

And Jesus promises something. He said "I am the Door". So it's not like we have to murmur a special password to St. Peter or do a certain number of good deeds to get in. We simply have to understand Jesus is The Door, the only way inside...the One who exited heaven and stands waiting for us...holding it open to all who want to come by way of Him. Unlike the movie theater,  your ticket to Eternity is already paid. 

There is one more door I'd like you to think is the door of your heart. Many have answered that door when Jesus came knocking. There are several that have sealed that door as tightly as the gate in Jerusalem. There is no entrance for a Messiah there. But when you think about it, there is no exit either.

There is no way for the guilt and pain to leave your life.

Not allowing Jesus entry into your life traps the dark, it bottlenecks within. There are sleepless nights that swirl with the dust of regret. There are outbursts just waiting for agitation to scratch the surface and explode like an over-filled balloon. There are numerous ways to try to forget all the junk, but in reality they only magnify the dark.

The Bible says that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Time to throw open that rusty lock, slide back the chain and remove the chair you tucked under the doorknob. You will find you had only taken yourself hostage.

Dear reader, the way out is the way inside. It's not an escape, it's entering in to where God is waiting for his children to return from their awkward exits. He doesn't lock and bar that door. He has provided a way for you to return through His son Jesus Christ.

I pray your exit strategy includes The Door that is always open to receive. And one day I hope we both get to see the fear-filled beauty of His return...when He blows through the doors of that Jerusalem gate at His Second coming.

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:9 (ESV)

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Present Joy

I cleaned up Christmas today and tucked it away in boxes for another season. Some of the wrapping was worth recycling, boxes were stowed and the more ragged stuff was tossed.

If you like to recycle like me, your family has experienced the fun of second guess gifts. Some people know exactly what the gift is by the box size, shape and weight. They get their face all ready to "act surprised" until they open the box...and what they thought was inside is not there. So the surprise is as real as the gift that unfolds before them.

Another year is here and it seems to be wrapped up in questions and anticipation. It seems to be the same 12 months, 365 days...Looking back at previous years you know pretty much what is coming. So you brace for the parade of days.

If 2014 was rough, you look for dark clouds on the horizon. The ribbons of fear are hard to break as you struggle through month by month.

Those that had an uneventful 2014 look forward to the year, but not with happy tension that should be peaking out from beneath the folds of the morning.

Have you considered time as a gift from God? When I think of the next day coming, I am tempted to assume I know exactly what the day holds. But God is the gift giver, and He is the best at surprises.

This new year, I challenge you to accept each day as a gift from God. And as you unwrap the day, expect to be surprised by Joy. Especially when you think you have the future already figured out.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 (ESV)