Sunday, March 20, 2011

What a wreck!


Did that really just happen?

Minding my own business, in transit from one work location to the other as I am wrapping up the long work week.  Sitting still in a line of cars at a stop light.  Out of nowhere...crash...and the car rocks back and forth.

In the physical realm of wrecks, this one was thankfully very minimal.

In the realm of the mind, this one was a booger.

I put the car in park, put the hazard lights on, then step out of my vehicle to survey the damage and meet the offender.

Very minimal damage to both vehicles, though slightly more to his.

Nervous, smiling gentleman offers his insurance papers.

My mind is reeling.  This came out of nowhere.  Unexpected.  Unplanned.  What do I do now?  How do I handle this?

I am okay.  He is okay.  Neither of us have passengers.  Thank the Lord.

Do I call the police? Does the insurance company require an accident report?  It's been so long since I've been in an accident that I can't remember this clearly.

The friendly gentleman clearly does not want me to call the police.  He calls his insurance agent and hands me the phone.  I discuss the situation with the agent as I am still struggling to figure it out myself.

As the agent suggests, I call the claim reporting number and begin the process of reporting a claim while asking them whether or not to call the police.

While waiting for someone to answer the line, the kind offender is showing me pictures of what he does at work, revealing that he is a person who works hard and takes pride in what he does.  Along with his kindness, I see meekness, humility, and even fear.

Finally, an answer on the line.  The lady on the other end informs me that she is merely an employee at the answering service, therefore she cannot answer my question either.  She then suggests I call---the man with whom I already spoke.  Ugh!

So I do.

He gives me another number to the main company office which he says will get me directly to an underwriter who can further advise me.

The woman with whom I speak says it is technically up to me and the other driver but her advice---get the accident report in case the man later tries to change the story and claim the accident is my fault, thereby claiming damage for which my insurance will have to pay and such.

The nervous offender asks me what the lady suggested.

I tell him she says I should call the police and get an accident report.

Though it is a bit humid outside, as I notice this quiet man wipe under his eye, I realize that he is not wiping sweat away.

My mind is still undecided. 

Throughout this whole process, I have been praying for God to guide me in what to do.  Whether or not to call the police.

My thoughts:
  • What if he does change the story and claim something false against me?
  • What if the right thing to do is involve the police in this?
  • What if involving the police causes his world to shatter as he knows it?
  • What if...what if...what if?
  • What to do...what to do...what to do?
Again he calls "Mr. Philip" (his direct agent) and asks me to speak to him one more time.

I do.  Mr. Philip quite reluctantly tells me that his best advice is to take the advice of the underwriter.

Again, I inform the tearful offender of his agent's advice.

Still I remain undecided and reeling with what if's.

Other things going through my mind:
  • Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. - James 2:12-13 

  • “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” - Matthew 18:32-35 
  • For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. - Romans 12:3
  • There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? - James 4:12
  • Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. - Jude 1:22-23
  • Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. - Colossians 3:12-13
  • “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - Luke 6:37

    Finally, my mind is made up.

    I walk up to the now overtly tearful, humble, afraid man and shake his hand.

    I tell him that God told me to give him grace.

    As we are being rushed out of the private parking lot by the business owner, we have little time for any further words.  His countenance thanks me even more than the words, "Thank you," which come from his mouth.  I bid him to drive safely and have a good day.

    As I drive away, mind still questioning if I did the right thing or was just played for the fool, I clearly sense that this was more than just a lesson in paying forward a tiny bit of the enormous undeserved grace I have received from my Lord.

    I realize the tremendous step of faith involved in trusting my God to protect me and my family from any possible future harm that my decision could facilitate.  Trusting that, if false claims do come my way, even then He will protect, uphold and guide me.

    You may disagree with my decision, especially if you knew more details which I deliberately omitted.  

    You may think me naive.

    You may be right in many ways, if you think as such.

    However, the only One I answer to---the only One I ultimately live to please---the only One I ultimately trust and depend on above all---He is my judge---and He is the judge of my offender.

    Who is your judge?  

    Whom are you living to please?  

    Who are you brandishing with a guilty verdict?

    Consider the passages I have provided here, then reconsider your life and how you view the lives of those around you.
    Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. - Proverbs 16:18
    When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. - Proverbs 11:2

Monday, March 14, 2011

Love can build a boardwalk

Love can build a boardwalk...

...straight through the Alligator Marsh.

That's where I was this weekend with my family---walking through the swampy marsh of South Louisiana LOOKING FOR alligators!  Are you kidding me?  What were we thinking?  Yes, that is exactly what we were doing.  Very near dark, too.  As you can tell, we made it back safely to our humble abode just a few short miles from the nature trail in Fontainebleu State Park.

As we ambled along this fine structure of a boardwalk through the swamp, I of course had many thoughts.

"Son, don't fall in.  Please!"

"Will the light of a cell phone be enough to see the path on both the boardwalk and along the muddy trail through the woods to get us back to our car?  It is about to be dark, after all, and we didn't plan this jaunt, therefore we did not quite come prepared.  Are my Sunday dress shoes evidence of that?  Thank the Lord I wore flats."

"Is that really an alligator peaking his head out of the water right there?  What is stopping him from swimming right over here and joining us for dinner on the boardwalk?  How could he resist?"

"Oh, look at that beautiful, serene sunset over the marsh as the birds are flying off into it.  Wait---sunset---so how are we going to see our way back the whole one and a half miles through all of this?"

Yes, these were merely a few of my calm, cool, and collected thoughts on that unplanned jaunt into the Louisiana swamps.

Don't get me wrong.  I did enjoy the precious time with my family in such a beautiful setting our God created.  It truly was serene and inspiring.  Even as I struggled against my mother-thoughts, some of which managed to slip out of my mouth making me sound like a worrisome mother, I'm sure.

Amidst all of these musings, one stood out the most.

If you've ever heard of The Judds (a country music mother-daughter duo), then you probably are hearing one of their songs in your head right now, as I am.

Love can build a bridge...

Well, I realized that day that not only did our Father's love for us build a bridge to span the chasm that is between us and Him because of our sin and His holiness... (by the way, that bridge is His Son, Jesus)

...but often His love builds a boardwalk for us.

Typically, bridges allow us to go over something.

Boardwalks, especially like the one in the marsh the other day, take you right into the heart of the place

Rather than going over or around some of the things we face in life, oftentimes the way of our Lord for us is straight into it and through it.

In those times, His love builds us a boardwalk.

If we recognize His path so carefully prepared for us, and chose to step our feet of faith upon it, then we can avoid sloshing through the waist-deep muck and mire surrounded by swamp grass that smothers us in height.  Instead, we can walk boldly and sure-footedly right into and through the midst of some pretty dangerous surroundings.  We can observe and learn from what we see occurring around us without fear of being pulled under, stuck, or harmed by the many creatures lurking beneath the murky surface. 

Are you facing or already in the midst of 
some ominous swamp of life right now?  

Are you ill-prepared?  Without a flash-light?  
In your Sunday best but staring at the Monday worst?

Have you met The Bridge, Jesus?

If so, have you found the boardwalk your Father has prepared for you 
to help you into, through, and out of this murky marsh?

Does it seem as if there is not and never will be a boardwalk
in your situation to help you through and out of it?

Take heart!  We have been promised it is there...and it is.  

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. - 1 Corinthians 10:13
The key is to recognize it and then to take that way He has provided.  
No matter how deep into the mess you already are, take the way out.  

Humble yourself.  
Admit your faults and your weakness.  
Admit your need for Him and His strength, hope, and guidance.  
Take the help He offers.

And for those who are feeling fairly on top of the world with no need for a boardwalk in sight... 
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!- 1 Corinthians 10:12
This is the verse that immediately precedes the first one I quoted---and for good reason it is placed where it is in scripture by God.  Just after this warning, we are told about temptation and one of the words used to describe it is "when" you are tempted...not just "if."  We will all be tempted, and you could even use the word tested here. 

Testing, trial, and temptation WILL come.  
It's a matter of WHEN, not IF.

Heed the words of our Lord through His servant Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.  Be careful that you don't fall.  Know that your tempting and testing and trials are not as unique to you as they may feel like they are.  Jesus knows your pain, confusion, struggle, weakness.  Others on this earth may even relate to your current swamp of life in ways you can never imagine. 

You are not alone.  

You Father has gone before you and made a way.  

Once you have discovered and accepted His Way, The Bridge, Jesus---always know that He has gone before you and prepared many boardwalks and highways through life for you. 

Look for the boardwalks.  

Ask Him to reveal them to you and to give you the strength and wisdom and humility to step onto them and follow them along His way for you. 

Trust Him.

Tell me...
  • What murky marsh is swamping your life right now?  
  • Do you know The Bridge?  
  • Have you discovered His boardwalks for you?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tell me more...Tell me more...about LeadHer

So, if you have been reading my posts for the past couple of days, maybe your appetite is whetted a bit for more details about this whole LeadHer ministry thing.

I am privileged, honored, and excited to be able to share with you some breaking news about how this not-yet-launched ministry is being developed and how it will be structured.

Soooo exciting!

I was part of a question and answer phone call the other day with Christie Love and surprise guest Susan Lawrence in which they answered any and all questions we who were on the call had about the upcoming LeadHer ministry.

Here are some specifics for you from what they shared with us:

1. The purpose of LeadHer is to encourage, educate, equip, and exemplify biblical leadership for women so they can have a stronger impact within their spheres of influence. 
  • LeadHer is a non-denominational, kingdom-minded ministry.
2.  LeadHer is comprised currently of sixteen women throughout the United States.

3.  LeadHer is going to reach out to women everywhere by way of a three-platform ministry they are launching.

  • The first platform is a program they call LeadHer Local.  This is a chapter-based program that women can start in their city to connect local women.  These chapters will be asked to meet twice a month and will follow a video-based curriculum and be based around a mentoring program.   
    • These chapters will begin as a pilot program in which even now in March there are ten or eleven midwest cities who have begun chapters.  In April, there will be ten more pilot chapters launched.  Finally, the full scale LeadHer Local program will be fully launched on May 1st in which it will be open to chapters being started anywhere at anytime throughout the country.
      • Promotional packets will be provided by LeadHer to the anyone who is interested in starting a chapter and becoming a chapter coordinator.
        • Training for coordinators will be done by online instructional videos, phone calls for questions as necessary, and even monthly calls with the LeadHer Local Director, Angela Bickford.
    • These will be open to young women as young as sixteen years old and upwards of any age that may be drawn into participating.
    • The chapters will have a small annual fee per participant of $24/year of which $12 stays with the local chapter and the other $12 goes to LeadHer National in order to fund printing and distribution of material and other necessary operating costs.
  •  The second platform is LeadHer Live and will be UNIQUE conferences and workshops all over the nation.  These events will be like nothing you have attended in the past--- much more hands on and geared to practically and tactically equip women so they leave with ideas to put into place ASAP.  These events will range from major three to four day events down to smaller scale, more customizable one-day events in which the host decides more about the structure based on the needs of their expected audience.  
  • The third platform is LeadHer Library and will consist of books, bible studies, and materials to continue to reach out to women at home on a daily basis.   
    • Their first annual devotional book will launch in December of this year!   
      • Again, this too will be formatted very uniquely and will give the reader much more of a daily hands-on, challenge-yourself experience as they use it daily. 
    •  LeadHer will have a fully functional, highly interactive and resourceful website as of the ministry's May 1st launch date.
    • Additionally, as the LeadHer ministry develops further, the website will offer but will not be limited to the following:
      • A LeadHer blog, with opportunities for guests to post
      • Online writing and blog training courses and resources
      • Devotional writing contests
      • Featured bloggers - some of which will even be featured in the annual devotional book
As you can see, Christie and all of these other wonderful LeadHer ladies have been working diligently and prayerfully to plan, prepare for, and implement this amazing ministry being birthed by God through the vision He gave Christie.

Please go check out the LeadHer Facebook page and "like" it so that you can be in on their latest updates and such.

If you have any questions, suggestions for locations for LeadHer Live events as well as LeadHer Local chapters, or anything else at all, please feel free to contact the LeadHer staff via email at info (at) leadher (dot) org.

Let's get out there and LEAD, ladies!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Are you a leader?

Do you want to be a leader?

Is the thought of any kind of leadership foreign to you or even a bit intimidating?

Do you have no interest whatsoever in being in any leadership role, big or small?

Regardless of your answer to any or all of the above...guess what!

You are a leader!

Like it or not, someone is influenced by you.

Deserve it or not, someone is watching you, following you, and even imitating you.

Regardless of past or present mistakes, regardless of lack of desire for the lime light, we must all face the fact that we are often oblivious to the influence we have on others in our path.

So, now that we've cleared that up, what is a person to do who does not know how to be nor feel worthy or equipped to be a leader?

Well, I am glad you asked!

Coming very soon to a location near you will be a new, exciting ministry geared at helping us all do what it is that so intimidates us and makes us feel unworthy.

(Yes, men, this one is geared toward women, but you can surely help get the word out to women in your sphere who need to hear about this.  Additionally, you can support the women involved in this with your prayers.)

Christie Love went through some tough times in her life a few short years ago, and since then had been given a burden and a vision to reach out to other women who for some reason felt no longer able to be used by God.  She has had the dream of this ministry burning in her heart since she was emerging from a place of suddenly being divorced and a single mom who no longer felt qualified to lead again.  Through her own experience with these heavy feelings of inadequacy, she realized how so many more women must feel the same.  She recognized that we women are very hard on ourselves in so many ways.

God began to work in Christie's heart an undeniable need to help encourage us as women to see ourselves as uniquely equipped to stand up and speak the good news, baggage and all.  After all, without that baggage, we would not so well empathize with our fellow life traveler who happens to be carrying a very similar piece of luggage to the one with which we have become so familiar.  Hence, the uniquely equipped part.

As Christie tells it, she has avoided going full-force into this tugging from God to start this ministry until it was no longer possible to avoid what He was telling her to do---now---not later anymore.

So now is that now!

And LeadHer is that ministry.

And once she fully, completely submitted to His call about three months ago, He has taken her full-blast into this much quicker and deeper and more amazingly than she could have possibly planned for herself.

She finally took hold of the fact that 
"God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called."

Are you the one who feels unqualified?

He is most likely calling you, too.  

Someway, somehow---He wants to use you, and has plans for you.

He will work out His plans in and through you, whether you think it is possible or not.

Stay tuned this week to find out more specifics of this exciting new ministry known as LeadHer.
You should also go check out their Facebook page and "like" it so you will see their updates.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Could you be a LeadHer?

Could you be a LeadHer?

No, I didn't misspell that.

Okay, what about a leader?  Are you one?  Could you be?

I know many answers are going through your mind right now about that.
  • Yes, I am a leader.  It is the nature of my daily job and/or role in ministry.
  • Sure I could be a leader.  I am in training as we speak.
  • No way!  Me?  Never.  I am a to stay in the background.
  • I used to be a leader, but I am no longer worthy of leading anyone.  I have disappointed many people in my life including myself and most importantly God.  No one would ever trust my leadership again...not if they knew what I have done and who I have been.  God would not allow His perfect name to be represented by a failure and/or rebel like me.  
So, which one fits you?  Maybe all of them have at some point in your life.  They have me.

The one I want to speak to the most (though all are included in this discussion) is the last one.  The one who has been through or is even currently in the midst of some really tough, bad times.

You are my ministry.  You are who I started this blog for not so very long ago.  You are who I was not very long before that.  You, my dear friend, are not alone.  You are not too far gone to be renewed and used by God.  People need you.  People need to know the convicting and healing God is doing in you right now.  Our God is bigger than your huge mess-ups.

Former pastors/pastors' wives, former Sunday school teachers/ministry leaders, former good kids who participated whole-heartedly in youth group or children's Bible class, former married and faithful spouse, former devoted parent, former friend to the hurting and confused...

All of you who once were someone else and now no longer recognize the person in the mirror nor the thoughts in your mind...

All who are hurting and confused, doubting and angry, disillusioned and out of energy, strength, and hope...


Wake up!  Now is the time.  Today is the day.

Yes, you can be a leader...even those who are timid and afraid...

No matter who you are, where you've been even today...

Like it or not, whether you realize it or not...

YOU are a leader!  

Someone is following you...someone is watching you.

You may not feel like it.  You may not feel nor be up to the task.  You may need a break from leadership for the moment, and for good reason.

But don't check out permanently.

It won't be long. 

Once you've come to the end of yourself and admitted who you are, who you are not, and Who He is...

He will impart His strength, hope, and unexplainable, undeserved, but undeniable peace and restoration to you.


His assignment will come knocking on the door of your heart.

Will you lead as He leads you?

Will you forget your inadequacies and remember His power, forgiveness, love and wisdom which is lavished on you when you need it most?

You can run, but you can't hide.

You are a leader---still.

Be watching this week for more on what is coming your way in the form of LeadHer.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. - 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Monday, March 7, 2011

Should have named him Jacob...better yet, Israel

"You rebels"

"You stubborn-hearted"

"You who are now far from my righteousness"

"For I knew how stubborn you were;
your neck muscles were iron,
your forehead was bronze."

"Well do I know how treacherous you are;
you were called a rebel from birth"
(Excerpts from Isaiah 46-48)

Five and a half years old...ugh!

I love my son dearly, but he has suddenly and unexpectedly hit this age and season where he is wearing my husband and me out.

Strong-willed, stubborn-hearted, rebellious.

Don't get me wrong, he isn't acting out in violence or anything...just testing his boundaries, I suppose.

Moreso, he is testing my strength and resolve.

Thankfully, I have a God who knows and understands how it is to have a child who is a bit testy - in His case, He has many testy children.

Additionally, my God imparts His strength and resolve and even His peace to me as I look to Him to be my Guide and Example through these difficult times.

I imagine my son doubts our motives for disciplining him at times, and even thinks my husband and I are mean when we do.

God knew the Israelites as well as all of us would do the same with Him---even doubting to the point of doubting His very existence.  Because He knew we would question Him and His power and His very nature, He planned and worked ahead in order to give us undeniable proof when those days of doubting come.  See for yourself, in His own words:
I foretold the former things long ago,
my mouth announced them and I made them known;
then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.
For I knew how stubborn you were;
your neck muscles were iron,
your forehead was bronze.
Therefore I told you these things long ago;
before they happened I announced them to you
so that you could not say,
‘My images brought them about;
my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’
You have heard these things; look at them all.
Will you not admit them?
- Isaiah 48:3-6
I have tried to tell my son things in advance so that he will be prepared when certain days come, but I in no way can begin to actually foretell as our God has done for us.  Wow!

And how else does our Father God, the Lord Almighty handle His stubborn, rebellious children?
“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
- Isaiah 46:3-4

What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.
Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
you who are now far from my righteousness.
I am bringing my righteousness near,
it is not far away;
and my salvation will not be delayed.
I will grant salvation to Zion,
my splendor to Israel.
- Isaiah 46:11-13

“From now on I will tell you of new things,
of hidden things unknown to you.
They are created now, and not long ago;
you have not heard of them before today.
- Isaiah 48:6-7

For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath;
for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,
so as not to destroy you completely.
See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another.
- Isaiah 48:9-11

This is what the LORD says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.
If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
your well-being like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants would have been like the sand,
your children like its numberless grains;
their name would never be blotted out
nor destroyed from before me.”
- Isaiah 48:17-19
Our Father redeems, rescues, loves, directs, and upholds his rebellious, doubting, self-centered children...always!

I pray I can be even the slightest reflection of Him as a parent to my precious son.

Moreso, I am ever more thankful for how my Father accepts me, even when I act like a five and a half year old.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wow! What an honor!

Last night, after a long, busy, tiring day and week, I received an email from Melissa Mashburn of Mel's World that she wanted to use a piece I submitted to her in her Godly Gals portion (which is a weekly posting on Thursdays by various people other than herself).

And she wants to post it TODAY!  Wow!  I am so honored.

So, head on over to Godly Gals at Mel's World and check out my devo for you today. 

So excited!  Hope you will leave a comment over there to let me (and her) know you dropped by.

Also, another thing I want to let you in on is that I will soon be giving you some breaking news and updates on a new, exciting, huge ministry that is about to be birthed in the very near future by a friend of mine, Christie Love.  Be watching for posts here with lots of intriguing info.  Can't wait!

Have a blessed day!