What’s your story?

*Author’s note: this was written and shared as part of an outreach effort intended to help women in crisis earlier this year.

Have you ever asked God for something…and then weren’t sure you really liked it? Maybe it didn’t come packaged quite like you thought it would. Yeah, me, too. It’s part of who we are as humans.

Many years ago, I noticed that quite a few of the people around me were talking about their “life verse.” They all seemed to have really “great” ones like Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Or like my husband’s life verse, 2 Timothy 1:7, which says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I didn’t have one, so I asked God to give me one. I read and read. I searched and searched—because, of course, it’s always up to me to fulfill my own prayer requests, right?! (HA!)

Funny thing, though?  I naturally assumed that it would God would give me something really great and important sounding that everyone else would recognize and be familiar with, as well, but He didn’t. He kept bringing me back to a verse that even I hadn’t paid attention to before. I kept coming back to the tiny book of Titus. I was drawn to it over and over…and I kept coming back to this one tiny little verse…

Titus 1:2 “…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began…”

Did you notice anything strange about that? It’s not even a complete sentence. God gave me something my English teachers had always stressed I was to avoid: a sentence fragment. Really, God? I don’t even get a complete sentence?! And then I began to study on it, and I noticed something special about it…this verse is my life in a sentence fragment. This is the capsule version of what God wants for each of us—this piece of knowledge that can get us through life. Everyone has one. This is mine…and God’s …and it can be yours, as well. Let me explain…

I live “in hope.” Some days that’s a lot easier than others. We all have good days and bad days. On the good ones I celebrate hope and on the bad days, I cling to it.

  • When we were told that my husband had cancer, with little chance of survival,
  • when they said he lost the job and we had to leave the place we loved,
  • when we God sent us to live somewhere I didn’t want to be…and kept us there for over 15 years,
  • when they said we couldn’t have children,
  • when they said we couldn’t even adopt
  • when people acted in hurtful ways
  • when they told us about his heart issues (and we ALL have one of those!)
  • when they said, “we’ve decided to go a different direction” after almost 17 years with a company and our way of life was threatened again–and it took almost 7 months before God provided a new one…

Hope was what we held on to; it was what kept us going through all of this and a million other things that didn’t turn out exactly like I would have planned.

Hope is only as strong or as fragile as the object of that hope. My hope is strong because it is in HIM. To get to know Him, I have to know HIS story.

This small sentence fragment tells me quite a bit of it. This verse tells me that there is hope of eternal LIFE. We are human and our lives have to start somewhere/sometime. God is eternal and He starts His written story (the Bible) by telling us just that: Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God…” He was there before our beginning and He created us on purpose. He thought this through. He made decisions—and He knew all the consequences of them—and He STILL CHOSE to make us anyway. He chose to make us knowing that we could—and WOULD—reject Him and He chose to give us a way NOT to do that, too.

John 3:16 says, “For God SO LOVED the world that He sent His only Son, that whosoever (that’s US!) believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

God values our choices. He made HIS choice in spite of all He knew would happen and He gives us that same option! Why would he do that? Hebrews 12:1 tells us the reason—“for the joy that was set before Him.” God wants us to choose Him for the joy to come and so we can spend our eternal lives with him!

We can choose to have a life here in this world with Him or without Him. Either way, we are made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27), so we were created to be eternal beings. Our choices here in this fragment of our eternal lives have consequences in the next portion of it.

Here’s my favorite part of this sentence fragment:  “…God, who cannot lie,” Oh, I love this part!! It has become my absolute favorite thing about God!! If God can’t lie, then all He says is true! It means that He really was there at our beginning, and that He made us in His image, and that we will now have no end. It means that hope and joy are really possible. It means that he really does love us. It means that He is good. It means that ALL of the other things He has promised to us and said He will be for us will come true! It means that He is our Protector and our Provider. It means that He has provided a way to spend our eternity with Him—it means HE is our hope. It means that HIS story can become OUR story and that can’t be changed by where we live or whatever else happens to us in THIS portion of our eternal lives because the One who cannot lie promised before time began.

Now that we know a little of God’s story, I have to ask:  how will that affect YOUR story?

Will you choose hope when it looks hopeless?

Will you choose God when the world feels and acts God-less?

Will you choose eternal life over eternal death?

Tonight as you leave here, know this: no matter what fragment of your eternity you find yourself in right now (good, bad, easy, hard, painful or comfortable), God loves you. He created you with great care and for a great purpose. He wants to spend the rest of your eternity with us so much that He’s done all He can to take care of our most important need–He sent His Son. Will we choose eternal life or eternal death? The choice is ours to make…and that choice will determine the REST of our story…and it just might make the difference in someone else’s eternity, as well.

No matter what fragment of your eternity you find yourself in right now (good, bad, easy, hard, painful or comfortable), God has a purpose for you in it and people are watching you. They need to know He loves them, too. Will you tell them? Will you show them? They might never hear or see it if you aren’t there to do just that.

Will you share His story? Will you make it your story, too? This fragment has meaning. It has hope. It has life.

Titus 1:2 “…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began…”

On those days when nothing goes right…

On the days when nothing goes right…

You still get to choose your response, be it physical, verbal or silent.
You still get to choose your words.
You still get to decide which voices to listen to.
You still get to choose how your voice will be used.
You still get to decide IF your voice should be used.
You still get to vent to trusted friends and loved ones–and you can choose to accept their comfort.
You still get to choose, to act responsibly, to take time out to be healthy and make good choices for yourself, SONY DSCand most importantly, to praise God ANYWAY!

See! You have more control than you thought. You just have to choose. I was reminded of that today, so I thought I ought to share.

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.”
Isaiah 30: 20-21

Kicking off the heels…

I used to love wearing high heels. I can close my eyes and still smell the brand new leather as I opened the box…oh my…wow…yes, moment of silence for that. And, since we have LONG since established my little bit of OCD-ness, I can admit that opening closet doors to see all the boxes lined up with their labels facing outward…

(Ok, I got a little lost there for a moment. Suffice it to say that I loved that image.)

Image. That says something to me about the heels, as well. As a teenager, they said I was growing up. As a college student, they said it was time to dance. As a young professional, they said I was making it on my own. Quite the talkative things, my shoes…and they always came with a lot of attitude–some of it good and some of it not so much.

After I got married, my husband was surprised to learn that he had to move a whole refrigerator box full of shoes to our new home. Work, church, and in between, I had at least several pair to choose from and I couldn’t imagine life any other way. I had other styles, too, of course, but the heels always made me feel special…almost like social armor, which really isn’t often necessary when you’re almost 6′ tall and know who you are. (grin) Well, maybe I just thought I knew some things back then.

I pared down over time. Styles changed. Life changed. I bought more flats, wedges, tennis shoes, and fewer heels, though I always kept a few in the back of my closet. In fact, I’ve had three pair that have survived the multiple purges over the past several years as I’ve gone from acquisition mode to the search for space and the peace of “less.” At first, I stopped wearing heels after I took a tumble down some stairs and needed some recovery time. After that, I just never went back to them. I found other options that suited me…and weren’t as perilous.

That’s not all that’s changed over the years. You know, Saul’s armor didn’t fit David…and not because it was too large, but because they had different battle styles. That’s true of me, as well, now. I’m still me, of course, but my life is different and my current battles aren’t the same ones I used to fight. That means some wardrobe changes are in order. I’ve decided I no longer need to hold on to things that don’t fit the life I’m living now, so I’m finally letting go of those last three pair of heels…and a whole lot of other things like attitudes and life strategies that haven’t always served me well. I’m a lot less rigid these days, a lot less judgmental, and I’m a lot more at peace. I find I laugh more–mostly at myself!–and I like me a whole lot better, too–and that is really saying something. (Ha!) I’m free to be ME: the one GOD knows and loves, and I can rest in that a lot more than I used to. I find I’m less concerned about any images that might be held in other places when I focus on HIS image of who I am. I’m more grateful for little things and I’m more aware of my gifts and limitations without being hampered by either thought. God is good and I am His. It is enough.

Oh, by the way, I tried those 3 pair of shoes on and I loved the way they looked. I almost put them right back in the closet! They felt ok on my feet and I found I could still walk in them just fine…for a little while. Then I tried on a few other styles–and my back gave an almost audible sigh of relief and my feet did, too. There are better things out there for me than the things I once held onto “just in case”, you know…so I’m making room for the now and finding that memories take up less room in the closet. So, out go the heels–gorgeous as they are –along with a pair of Keds and 2 pair of flats! Today, you’re more likely to find me in tennis shoes and they suit me just fine…in fact, it’s a lot easier to kick up my heels than ever before.

Question of the day:  What are YOU holding onto that you need to let go? Make room for the life GOD wants for you now. You just might be amazed at how great it can be!



The Today Blessing

I’m cleaning out again. Still. This time it’s the table top beside my chair. Old cards, magazines, photos, pens, paints, sticky notes with prayers and verses on them, books and Bible study materials…yes, I’ve managed to amass quite the collection of treasures here.


As I’ve sifted through all of the detritus of many yesterdays, I unearthed this poem. I’ve had it for so long that I can’t remember where I found it, so I can’t give credit where its due, but it’s too good to keep myself, so here it is, just for you in case you need reminding, too…

Living in the Present (by Helen Mallicoat, 1977)

I was regretting the past and fearing the future.

Suddenly my Teacher was speaking:

“My name is I AM.” He paused, I waited.

He continued, “When you live in the past

with its mistakes and regrets,

it is hard. I am not there.

My name is not I WAS.

When you live in the future

with its problems and fears, it is hard.

I am not there. My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment,

it is not hard. I am HERE.

My name is I AM.”

Grace and Peace…and as Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there!”…because that’s where God is, too.

Away with friends…

Right now I’m away with friends. This is the “mumble-something-th” year” we’ve done this since our college graduation from our beloved Mississippi University for Women.

There are just seven of us on the retreat this time due to jobs/moving and family health concerns. We miss those who aren’t here, but we are valiantly “retreating” just the same. (…and hoping they can come to one in the fall…if we can manage another quick one…in the fall? We’ll talk…)

The food is abundant. The laughter near constant. The joy of being together deeper than we’ll ever be able to vocalize or write. All these years together mean there are few silences and even fewer topics off limits (are there limits?) in our fellowship. We’re here to see, to shower with love, to lift up and empower.  We’re here to be reminded of who we REALLY are in a world where we each wear many hats…and, though we’re grateful for each hat, when we’re together, the hats come off and years fade…and we are just US.

Us-ness in a world seemingly committed to uniformed individuality. Celebrating our uniqueness and also our chosen togetherness is a marvelous gift we give to each other. No pressure to conform, but encouraged to be who we were created to be by the One Who loves us best…the One who has a way with friends who are away with friends.

Grace and Peace!

Shared dreams

I started out my morning drinking hot apple cider just to spite this Georgia heat while I read THIS and decided it just sounded too beautiful not to share! I hope you’ll click on the link below and enjoy it as much as I did…

Grace and Peace!

The Extravagant Invitation We’ve All Been Waiting For


Heroic faithfulness?

Our Sunday School class is in 1 Samuel right now and the lesson this week is on David and Goliath. Almost everybody knows this ancient story. Its part of our cultural lexicon and used even by people who aren’t believers in the Word. We refer to it when we face difficult situations with impossible-looking tasks or to significant victories where the little guy comes out on top even today. As I read through the material in preparation to teach, this quote made quite the impression on me, so I thought I’d share it with you today:

“Heroes do in times of crisis what they’ve faithfully done in times of calm.” *

I read that sentence, grabbed my highlighter, and then I read it again and headed to the computer. Those words speak to me. In this world of political and social upheaval, we’ve seen policemen, firemen, and other emergency personnel run toward the danger almost every day. They go because they’re trained to do so. They’ve worked hard to be ready at a moment’s notice. They go because they care. Despite the actions of a few, the majority hold the line and perform admirably every day whether they’re caught on camera or not.

“Heroes do in times of crisis what they’ve faithfully done in times of calm.” 

You don’t have to be a public servant for these words to apply. The same can be said of those who are faithful to prepare and perform any task. Not so sure about that?

  • Ask the child with the scraped knee when the parent shows up with a hug and a band-aid.
  • Ask the patient in need of pain management or just a friendly face.
  • Ask the employer who can’t get product out the door or make a living without the people who show up on time and as scheduled…and who actually work while they’re there.
  • Ask the friend in need of a listening ear and some sound advice.
  • Ask the husband or wife trading sleep to comfort and encourage–or do the dishes and laundry!– after a difficult day.
  • Ask the school without enough qualified teachers or coaches.

We may not automatically think about people performing mundane tasks as preparing to be heroes, but perhaps we should. Heroes-in-the-making are everywhere, quietly going about the business of living faithful lives. We need to be reminded to say “THANK YOU!”–BEFORE the need is great and the response is required. We need to show appreciation for those around us who do their job and show up consistently to make our lives better.

You know what this means, right? It means you need to be reminded that someone is counting on you today, too. They may not call you heroic and they might not throw a parade, but you matter more than you think you do. Your work ethic matters. Your attitude matters. Your presence matters. Your faithfulness matters.

Yes, your faithfulness matters…and so do you.

Thank you.

Grace & Peace!


*Explore the Bible Leader Guide HCSB, Summer, 2016. Eric Geiger, General Editor. Lifeway, One Lifeway Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234.