Safe Places

“…maybe on the days we want out of our lives — it isn’t so much that we want to die from shame, but *hide* from shame. But let’s remember: shame gets unspeakable power only if it’s unspeakable. Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.
You know what? Your scars are proof that you’re a kind of bulletproof — because living through the hardest battles proves you can live through any battle. You can trace those scars and let it feed your courage and feel no shame for the wars you’ve come through, no shame for any of your broken.
And tonight we’re just going to take heart — take His heart
and pour a brave and willing love like His
over all the open wounds…
that we may even now
take hope” (Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way). 
#TheBrokenWay #StrengethingPrayers

Normally, I like to share my own thoughts, but this one practically begged me to share it. I’m positive that someone out there needs this tonight, someone who’s battled shame for a long time and needs to know that there’s hope and freedom just around the corner in one of those safe places.

You’ll never know the freedom over the power of shame until you can find your brave and share your stories– even the hardest and most shameful ones. As my pastor said, healing takes place when the worst moment of your life that you never thought you’d ever share with another living soul becomes the first line of your testimony of God’s deliverance.

My prayer is that you’ll find someone and somewhere safe to tell your shameful secrets so that they no longer hold you captive. Then perhaps your story will encourage someone else to tell his or her story. Someone will her their own story in your words and find their own healing.


An Attitude of Gratitude

I found out that a friend of the family is currently walking through his own valley of the shadow of death in dealing with incurable cancer. To hear the word “cancer” coming out of the mouth of a doctor is scary enough, but to hear it preceded by “terminal” has to be frightening to an almost paralyzing degree.

Yet this friend of mine has faced this diagnosis with dignity and peace and an unswerving faith in the God who is still in the miracle business. While the odds seem insurmountable, I’m reminded yet again that what seems impossible to us isn’t even remotely difficult for God. Just ask any of the blind or lame men that Jesus healed. Or the lepers. Or Lazarus.

My friend said that it all starts with an attitude of gratitude. I truly believe that. A positive mental outlook is half the battle when dealing with a grim medical diagnosis.

Yet it’s more than that. This attitude of gratitude comes from the same place that allowed the Apostle Paul to pen the words that to live is Christ and to die is gain. It’s literally a win-win with Jesus.

Either my friend gets healed here and becomes a witness of God’s healing power or he is resurrected and finds ultimate healing and stands in front of Jesus to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

When you think about it, we’re all terminal. After sin entered the world, death followed close behind and that proverbial hourglass started on each one of us. Unless Jesus comes back soon, all of you reading this will come to the place where you breathe your last.

Thanks to Jesus death will not have the final word. The grave is only temporary. The resurrection truly does mean that the worst thing is never the last thing and Jesus will have the final word in your story.

I’m praying for my friend for healing here and now knowing that no matter what happens, God is always good and we are always loved and that grace still wins in the end.


I’m Sick Part Two: The Diagnosis

I finally broke down and went to a walk-in clinic. As it turns out, I have pneumonia.

Let that sink in. That is one scary word right there. I mean, people die from pneumonia, right?

In my case, what I have is nowhere near that bad. I got a shot in the butt (which was awkward) and a prescription for an inhaler and some pills. I should be as good as new in about a week or so.

At least now I know why I’ve had the on-again, off-again fever and fatigue. The condition has a name and a cure.

I have a lot more sympathy now for those who struggle with health issues and undiagnosed ailments. It’s hard to continue feeling bad and not know why you feel that bad. If it looks like there’s no end in sight to the illness, it’s much harder to endure on a day to day basis.

God, be with all those whose ailments have not yet been given a name and give them strength to bear under this season of suffering. Grant to the doctors wisdom and understanding to be able to diagnose and give hope to those who are weary with waiting for answers.

Most of all, bring healing in Your own way and in Your own time to those who need it most.




“True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude toward that person or circumstance. People describe intercession by saying, ‘It is putting yourself in someone else’s place.’ That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective” (Oswald Chambers).

I heard someone say recently that intercession is being with God for someone else. I have to give credit where credit is due, so most of what follows is based on what I heard from Mary Lou Redding in a prayer talk she gave recently.

It’s not necessarily me praying what I think that person needs. It’s not even sometimes me praying for that person for what they need.

Sometimes the best kind of intercession is the kind where I am silent before God as I visualize bringing that person into the light of God’s presence and letting God decide how best to meet that person’s need.

I do believe we are to pray specifically for others and their needs and we should always pray for people for what they ask us to pray for. I also think that sometimes the best kinds of prayers for others don’t involve words at all.

It’s not like God will do less than what we ask. Oftentimes, He will do more. If you look at the four friends who brought in their paralyzed friend for physical healing, what they got was not only the physical healing but salvation for their friend as well.

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes the way I pray for family and friends is to visualize a chapel with Jesus standing at the front. I see myself bringing that person to Jesus and I see Jesus enveloping that person in a big bear hug. I envision healing washing over that person I am praying for as Jesus wraps His arms around them.

That said, I think all of us who claim the name of Jesus need to do better at praying for others. Not so much in saying, “I”ll pray for you,” and never following through but actually praying for people and letting them know we are praying for them. I know I need to do better.

Maybe today’s a good day to start.


Hymns in the Dark

“Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.

 Startled from sleep, the jailer saw all the doors swinging loose on their hinges. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, he pulled out his sword and was about to do himself in, figuring he was as good as dead anyway, when Paul stopped him: “Don’t do that! We’re all still here! Nobody’s run away!”

The jailer got a torch and ran inside. Badly shaken, he collapsed in front of Paul and Silas. He led them out of the jail and asked, ‘Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved, to really live?’ They said, ‘Put your entire trust in the Master Jesus. Then you’ll live as you were meant to live—and everyone in your house included!'” (Acts 16:25-35).

Today at The Church at Avenue South, Matthew Page preached on the passage where Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison. I wonder if I could do that, especially if I were behind bars for something I didn’t do.

Matthew spoke about how they lived a questionable life, as in a life that led people to ask questions about what kind of men they were and why they lived the way they did.

The most powerful part of their witness was being able to sing praise songs in a prison cell. That more than anything captured the attention of not only the fellow prisoners but of the prison guard as well.

I wonder if the earthquake would have happened if Paul and Silas has remained silent. Or if they had chosen instead to make a laundry list of all the wrongs and injustices inflicted upon them. Maybe. Maybe not.

The result was that a prison guard and his entire family came to faith in the Jesus that Paul and Silas sang about. Some scholars think that the other prisoners converted to Christianity as well.

Matthew went on to talk about being in the ER with a family whose daughter was near death. The prognosis was grim but some of those there with the family broke out singing hymns.

Do you sing as loud during the dark as well as during daylight? Do you praise God during the hard times when life doesn’t make sense? Does your speech reflect gratitude and thanksgiving in the midst of extreme trials and tribulations?

There was a doctor in that ER that eventually chose to follow Jesus because he saw what he couldn’t understand. He had probably seen people rage and curse at God but he had most likely never seen people worshipping through tears in the midst of tragedy.

By the way, the girl miraculously survived.

I won’t say that every time you praise Jesus, everything will automatically turn out the way you want it to, but I will say worship will change the way you see your circumstances.

It was convicting. Maybe I need a little more praise and a little less anxious analysing.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.


300 Words


My goal every time I sit down to write one of these posts is 300 words.

I don’t always have a defined topic when I start typing. Sometimes, I’ll be halfway through a blog before an idea will hit me. Sometimes, I end up with a very stream-of-consciousness, vague-and-shadowy type of blog.

I’ve decided that not every blog I write has to reinvent the genre. Not every single post will be a literary classic. Some will stink like my cat’s week-old kitty litter. But for me, the joy is sitting down in front of my trusty laptop (or iPad) and clicking away on the keys to produce something that wasn’t there before.

Honestly, there are times when I get discouraged by the fact that less people are reading these than were a year ago. I’m just keeping it real. But then I have to remind myself that this is for me and if I only have an audience of one, I’m okay with that.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m repeating myself and essentially saying a lot of the same things over and over. Maybe some of you are like me and it takes you way more than once before a truth sinks in. For me, it’s more like five or six times.

For me, it’s about the discipline of writing something down every single day. Plus, it’s always fun to look back at some older posts and remember what was going on in my life and what I was thinking and feeling at the time. It’s a good indicator of how far God has brought me along the road of healing and wholeness.

So there’s a little more insight into what goes on in my little ol’ noggin. In case you were wondering. And that, my friends, brings us to 300 words.





The Suffering Servant Part I

Thorn again … Jim Caviezel as Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004).

Indeed, who would ever believe it?
    Who would possibly accept what we’ve been told?[a]
    Who has witnessed the awesome power and plan of the Eternal in action?[b]
Out of emptiness he came, like a tender shoot from rock-hard ground.
He didn’t look like anything or anyone of consequence—
    he had no physical beauty to attract our attention.
So he was despised and forsaken by men,
    this man of suffering, grief’s patient friend.
As if he was a person to avoid, we looked the other way;
    he was despised, forsaken, and we took no notice of him.
Yet it was our suffering he carried,
    our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness.
We just figured that God had rejected him,
    that God was the reason he hurt so badly.
But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so.
    Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole.
    The injuries he suffered became our healing.
We all have wandered off, like shepherdless sheep,
    scattered by our aimless striving and endless pursuits;
The Eternal One laid on him, this silent sufferer,
    the sins of us all” (Isaiah 53:1-6).

This is what Easter is all about. That the promised Messiah would suffer and die was something almost no one would have anticipated, even though the prophets clearly foretold it. Many were expecting a military savior to drive out the Romans and restore Israel as a nation.

But here we see God with a much larger purpose in mind. Not only did Jesus come to Earth to save those children of Israel, but He also had in mind peoples from every part of the world. People of every tongue, tribe, and nation.

This Easter, I remember that it was for my wrongdoing that Jesus was crushed. It was for my healing that He suffered grievous injuries. By His stripes, I am made whole and healed and complete.

I love that Jesus didn’t give 10% for me. Or even 20%. He gave 100%. He gave absolutely all of Himself for me.

May you and I remember that this Easter.


More Beautiful Words


“Some of us tend to do away with things that are slightly damaged. Instead of repairing them we say: “Well, I don’t have time to fix it, I might as well throw it in the garbage can and buy a new one.” Often we also treat people this way. We say: “Well, he has a problem with drinking; well, she is quite depressed; well, they have mismanaged their business…we’d better not take the risk of working with them.” When we dismiss people out of hand because of their apparent woundedness, we stunt their lives by ignoring their gifts, which are often buried in their wounds.

We all are bruised reeds, whether our bruises are visible or not. The compassionate life is the life in which we believe that strength is hidden in weakness and that true community is a fellowship of the weak” (Henri Nouwen).

I’ve done that before– dismissing people because of their apparent woundedness. I’ve also had it done to me a few times.

I can say with all sincerity that these words are true. You and I may have every right to dismiss these people, but we do lose something– those untapped gifts lying hidden in those very wounds.

Maybe next time I can see those people and their wounds with a different set of eyes next time– eyes of grace. Maybe next time I can remember Who saw my wounds and sought me out anyway. I can remember that He gained His own scars for the healing of mine.

Just a thought.

Those Times

I’ve been living my miracle. I’ve been counting my blessings and finding joy in the everyday minutiae of life. But sometimes . . . .

You know the feeling. It happens when you’re tired or hungry or by yourself– or all three. 

You feel like your friends will all eventually abandon you. Little things, like someone not responding to a text or someone else who usually liked and commented on your posts not having done so for a few days, seem like proof that you’re not really wanted or desired.

You find it’s much easier to wallow in that old mire of self-pity and entitlement than to fight for the joy and to consciously bring to mind the blessings. Sometimes it does feel good (but not in a good way) to feel sorry for yourself and believe that no one truly understands or cares about you. Lies are sometimes easier to believe and more comforting than the truth. Well, most of the time.

It’s at those times when you want to lean on what you’re feeling as a gauge for how you’re doing. It’s times when you want to use your understanding as a crutch for figuring out your life at that particular moment.

But just remember this familiar verse:


“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding [or feelings]. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6. Amplified)

I added that part about feelings, in case you wondered. But it’s implied in the Hebrew. 

Trust God, not in how you feel or what you think. Those things (thoughts and feelings) aren’t always trustworthy. But God is.

And I know from experience your friends aren’t nearly as ready to abandon you as you think they are. Sometimes, they just get caught up in life, their own pain, crazy work or school, etc. They haven’t forgotten or left you.

Remember even if one or two has left you, God never will. He’s promised with an oath as sure as Himself to be with you, no matter what, not only up to the end, but beyond.

That should help you get past those times.


That’s How You Know

bacon bandaids

“When you wake up one morning surprised to see the world exists
And your eyes ain’t full of tears
Your heart ain’t full of bitterness

That’s how you know, that’s how you know
That’s how you know, that’s how you know

When you’re thankful that you ever knew a love this strong
When you finally find the courage to write this song

That’s how you know
That’s how you know
That’s how you know
You’re moving on………” (Lori McKenna)

Growth is hard to detect on a daily basis. That wound may not look like it’s healing on an hour-to-hour basis. But here is some of the evidence that I’ve started growing and healing:

1) When a friend seems to so silent on me, i.e. doesn’t comment on my posts nearly as much or quits responding to texts, I don’t freak out and assume the worst. I don’t automatically go to defcon-4 and wonder how I’ve horribly offended the person. I breathe deeply a few times and let it go and choose to believe the best.

2) Rejection doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it did even last year. I’ve learned to let it go and move on and appreciate the people who do want me around. It’s less tiring that way.

3) I don’t get caught up in rehearsing what I will say to this person or that person if I see them. I don’t obsess over what somebody meant by a throwaway phrase or something that hit me wrong. I try to focus on the present and all the blessings there.

4) I don’t feel the need to be appreciated or noticed all the time. I can simply enjoy the moment quietly. Also, I’ve decided that since I’ve stopped trying so hard to be witty and humorous, I’m a lot funnier. At least in my own head.

I heard something I like a lot: time doesn’t heal all wounds; only Jesus does that. Remember that the next time, but also remember He’s still the best Physician when it comes to broken hearts and lives.