Monday, September 26, 2011


I grew up in a home in which there was at least one Bible, if not more, in almost every room. My daddy was a preacher, and he had more than a few translations of the Bible from which he studied in our home. In addition, every member of my family had at least one Bible, if not a few. I took all those Bibles for granted, and assumed that every home was abundantly accessorized with a plethora of Bibles.

When I became an adult and married, I purchased an adult-style Bible for women. When I became a parent, I purchased one for mothers and one for fathers. When my children were little, I purchased children's Bibles and Bible storybooks. As they got a little older, I purchased devotional Bibles for them. I'm not quite sure how many Bibles I'd currently find in my home if I were to start searching for them all, but I'm guessing there'd be at least twenty.

Even though I'd often read the Bible throughout my life, I was confused by it. I often thought it contradicted itself. But a couple of months ago, I begged God to give me a greater understanding of grace. Over a few weeks, the Bible came alive to me in ways I never imagined. And through His Word, God transformed my life and my concept of Him. He sunk the truth of His unending, unchanging, unconditional love into my heart.

I now count it a privilege to own even one Bible. I treasure God's Word in written form. I can't imagine not having a single copy of the Bible in my language in my possession. Yet that's exactly the case for approximately 340 million people around the world. That's a stunning statistic to those of us who for so long have taken our Bibles for granted!

OneVerse, a program of The Seed Company, is working to make the Bible available to people in their language. OneVerse understands the transforming power God's Word can have on a reader's life. You and I have the opportunity to partner with OneVerse by giving a one-time gift of $26 which will ensure the translation of one {life-changing} verse into the language of our choosing. Won't you join me today in spreading the Good News?

To learn more about OneVerse, and to donate, visit:

This post is my entry into OneVerse's contest for a ticket to the Relevant Conference '11.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I used to:

  • be adamantly what used to matter to me no longer does

  • be a I won't vote based on party

  • believe in the death I'm not so sure

  • judge people who don't go to I sometimes wonder why I go

  • think people at church were as sinless as they I know better

  • think grace was too easy, too I know its transforming power

  • not know a thing about real I'm learning

And that's the short list...

My Blue Journal

I keep a little, blue journal that my husband bought me several years ago. In that journal is a list of names that only God, Mark and I know. The names included are of those who God has brought into my life over the past several years who have experienced situations with which I can relate. Lately the list seems to be growing almost daily.

While it's a privilege to write down a name and begin to pray for these, my heart aches with sadness with every pen stroke because I know the pain that must come before healing. I'm familiar with the uncontrollable tears and the feeling that nothing will ever be the same again. But I also know the power of a great God who heals the deepest hurts.

So today I'm honored to pray for my friends. I encourage you to seek out those who need to hear your story, who need you to love them, and who need you to pray on their behalf. It's a joy to watch God work in the lives of friends.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

POTSC: What We Have In Common With Mel Gibson

There have been more than a few moments in my life that if an audio or video recorder had been taping, I'd be horribly ashamed to watch or listen. It would be even more humiliating for those moments to be publicly released. I've yelled at my kids, I've said awful things to my husband...I've acted out in a way that didn't represent what I truly believe. Those moments often stem from my own needs and hurts, and usually have nothing to do with the targets of my actions.

We all have those moments when we do things that don't represent who we are or what we deep-down believe, and those are the moments we usually regret the most. They're the moments that come back to haunt us in the dead of night.

Why would someone famous be any different? Specifically, why would Mel Gibson be any different?

Unfortunately, Gibson's irrational, drunken, angry moments have been released to the public. And we, the public, seem to base his reputation on those moments. But is a reputation the totality of a person? Not likely. Unfortunately, instead of throwing out the bad, and choosing to focus on the good, we often allow a few ugly moments in time to define a person.

It's as though we don't have enough to deal with in our own lives, so we gossip based on what we think is true about others. Whether it's the neighbor down the street, a co-worker, or a public persona, we talk about others to deflect the attention from our own needs and hurts.

Hurt people sometimes hurt others. Whether it's Gibson's behavior or our gossip, both stem from a place of hurt. We could all benefit from a little more grace and forgiveness from one another. Forgiven people should forgive others.

Who do you know that might benefit from your grace and forgiveness today?

Other POTSC Never Beyond posts:
Casey Anothony
Mike Tyson

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Auburn vs. Clemson And Recovery

I watch my favorite college football team most Saturdays. I admit that I sometimes fall asleep during the games. (I know, I know...that's close to sinning in the south.) But this past Saturday I managed to stay awake for most of the game. And I saw my team make an error that could've and should've been easily avoided.

Clemson punted the ball to Auburn, and sent the ball sailing down to the end zone. Even I know that a player shouldn't catch the ball in the end zone because if the ball hits the ground, the team will automatically advance to the 20-yard line. But as my husband was yelling, Let it go! Let it go!, I watched a player catch the ball and try to run. Much to our chagrin, he didn't make it very far before the Clemson players had him on the ground. My husband was muttering something about a mental error costing Auburn. It took several plays before Auburn made it to the 20-yard line, where they should've been in the first place.

Sometimes we make errors, and we have to work hard to recover and get to where we should've easily been in the first place. But instead of beating ourselves up over our mistakes, it is important to start get to the place where we should've been so we can move forward from there.

Yes, recovery is a hard road. It's a road that's only taken because of mistakes. It's the brave who decide to journey down that humbling road. It requires forgiving ourselves, and sometimes forgiving others, neither of which is easy to do.

And as for those who would come along and knock you down, trying to stall your recovery by making condescending comments or by not believing in you: move right on past them. Keep doing what it takes to make progress.

Mistakes and errors are often costly, and might mean the game is more challenging, but they don't have to mean that the game is over. It's your choice: call it quits, or start recovering with humility what you've lost. Restoration awaits you.

Loosely based on Luke 15:11-32

Friday, September 16, 2011

Loads of Groceries and Seeking Help

No one else was home as I unloaded the groceries, bag by plastic bag. {Sorry, I'm not a re-usable bag kind of girl.} There seemed to be a hundred heavy bags. You know how when you're tired, just a few heavy bags seems like a million? Yeah, I thought I'd never get all those groceries upstairs to the kitchen. About the fifth time of trudging up the steps I thought, If only Mark were home to help me carry these bags, it sure would lighten my load.


When we're tired and weary, and the heavy load seems never-ending, it helps to have someone come alongside and share the load with us. The weight lifts and the burden eases when we allow someone to help us carry our "groceries." And you know those "groceries" have to be dealt with; you can't just leave them in the car to spoil.

You may be facing

job loss
financial devastation
an unwelcome diagnosis
marital turmoil

You must deal with your circumstances. Ignoring them can lead to bitterness, anger, and depression {just to name a few}. But while you deal with them, allow someone to encourage and comfort you, to help you.

So whether it's a trusted friend or a counselor, make the call! Seek help. Let someone help you carry your load.

Above all, seek the ultimate comforter:

Give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who gives tender love. All comfort comes from him. He comforts us in all our troubles... (2 Cor. 1: 3-4a, NIV) 

Thursday, September 15, 2011


She stepped up to the plate, raised the bat over her right shoulder, shimmied her feet steady into the red dirt, and waited for the ball. In that moment I thought, My eleven year old has more confidence in her pinky than I've ever had. When I was her age, I wouldn't go near a ball. I was too scared.

Last Christmas I sat on pins and needles as the pianist began to play the intro for the song in which my daughter sang a solo. Standing on ready in the red shirt I'd bought her, she stepped forward to the microphone, face a little flushed from nerves, and opened her mouth to sing with the voice of an angel. At that moment I thought, She's got more confidence than I had at that age. At ten years old, I wouldn't sing a solo in front of 50 people, much less a packed sanctuary of 1500-plus.

I guess she gets her confidence genes from her dad. He was Mr. Sports growing up, and to this day, is quite confident of his abilities and talents. I admire my daughter, and I often draw strength from my husband. But when it comes to self-confidence, I have little.

It's the reason why:

  • I write raw, honest blog posts and never click Publish
  • My knees quiver when I sing a solo
  • When another adult criticizes my children, I question my parenting skills for days
  • I dig deep for weeks when my beliefs are challenged
  • You'll rarely get an invitation into my cluttered, lived-in house
  • I stand on the scales and shake my head in disgust every morning
  • I let friendships slip away instead of pursuing them

Really, self-confidence is an ugly thing. It's focusing on

In the moments I turn my eyes on Jesus and place my confidence in Him, my world flips upside down. Suddenly, I'm focused on what He wants to accomplish through me, on what He created me to be and do, on His plans.

Maybe it's not so much a gene-thing. Maybe it's just that my girl understands her purpose for being better than I understand mine. She's aware of the talents and gifts God has given her, and she puts them in action.

Shouldn't we all be so bold?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

POTSC: A White Alabama Girl and The KKK

The Heart of Dixie. Where neighbors lounge in rocking chairs on front porches, sipping sweet iced tea on hot summer evenings, chatting about all the other neighbors and solving the world's problems, one sip at a time.

My home.

Alabama the beautiful...with an ugly past.

Alabama: The 1960's battleground for civil rights. The home of the infamous Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. The state whose capital name is synonymous with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as George Wallace, Jr. A state once divided on the basis of skin color.

A white girl, I was born in the 1970s when the fight for civil rights was still pretty fresh on adults' minds. Alabama was adjusting to a new {and better} normal. Laws had changed, but the undercurrent of racism was still strong. In fact, most of what I knew as a child about Martin Luther King, Jr., was negative {and false}. Nigger was a commonly used word by white people {including me}, and attitudes of white supremacy were not uncommon.

And, sadly, the reputation of the KKK was somewhat that of heroic.

It was not rare to hear jokes about the KKK. Stories of burning crosses and roadside murders were passed down to my generation with little compassion or concern.

Looking back, even the church didn't seem to take a hard stance against the KKK. In fact, the church seemed somewhat netural, even if they weren't condoning. Maybe the blame was to be placed at the feet of ignorance. I certainly didn't have a full understanding at a young age that racism and prejudices were wrong and to be avoided. And even though I didn't participate in KKK activity, my attitude probably wasn't much different from those of KKK members.

It wasn't until I gave birth to my first child that I realized that racism and prejudice lied just beneath my surface. I was quick to give up the use of the n-word. With time I began to see beyond skin color, to understand that we were all created equal and in God's image.

So when I ask you to forgive the KKK and extend grace, I am asking you to include my past prejudices because there's only a fine line separating attitude and action. And whether or not ignorance may have been {and still be} the cause for most people who were involved with the KKK, hate runs deep, and your forgiveness could be their healing balm.

If you can't find it in your heart to forgive the doers of such despicable deeds, remember what Jesus had to say as he hung on the cross: Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34 NASB)

Other POTSC: Never Beyond posts:
Casey Anthony
Mike Tyson

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Will Not Forget

Ten years ago today I awakened with my oldest daughter, then a year-and-a-half old, started her breakfast and strewed a load of laundry to fold across my living room floor. I turned on the tv and switched it to the Today show just in time to see a plane crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Within just a few seconds I understood that the land of the free and the home of the brave was under attack by faceless and nameless killers. I grabbed the phone and called my best friend. Turn on the news! Planes have crashed into the World Trade Center buildings! We're under attack! I don't remember much more of the conversation as I'd begun to see people falling from the top floors. Then came the news of the Pentagon crash, followed closely by the tragedy of United Flight 93.

Tears streamed down my face, and I held my daughter tightly. I was no different than anyone else that day as fear gripped our nation. Of course, I lived in small-town Alabama, and the threat of an attack was almost non-existent. But my country, without warning, had been almost paralyzed with fear. There was almost nothing on tv except news coverage for days. Even some of my daughter's favorite tv stations had gone off air. The entire nation was in shock. And we mourned for the lives of fellow citizens we didn't even know.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been watching shows recounting the events of that dreadful day. I've cried as survivors shared their stories. A lump has formed in my throat every time I've remembered people falling and jumping to avoid death by fire. I never get used to watching the collapse of two monstrosities that were never supposed to collapse. Every time I've seen a replay of the towers falling, I've been instantly transported back to the spot where I stood amongst laundry on my living room floor. The feeling of horror is the same every time.

Today, ten years later, the bravery of the 9/11 firefighters and rescue workers amazes me just as much as it did back then. Today the stories of human kindness told of that day still make me proud of my fellow Americans. Today I will remember the courage of ordinary, extraordinary people. Today I will take time to remember what my country endured. Today I will thank God for the bravery of men and women who continue to fight for freedom. Today I will hope for a better future for my children. Today I will love a little more intentionally. Today, and for the remainder of my days, I will not forget.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Storm Damage

Tropical Depression Lee made its way through Alabama on Labor Day. We weren't able to spend the day at the lake as originally planned, and actually, didn't accomplish much of anything that day. We spent the evening lounging on our sofas in our pjs, listening to the howling winds and intermittent downpours of rain. Little Hannah huddled close beside me, fearful that the winds were much like those of a tornado. Truthfully, I was a little scared too because the top of the huge tree in our front yard kept looking as though it might crash right through our palladium window. However, by bedtime the rain had calmed, and the winds had somewhat diminished.

As I ventured out to run errands on Tuesday morning, only gray clouds and a few showers remained. As I drove, I saw the debris Lee left behind as it began to move on to the east. Granted, there was no comparison to the damage left behind from the tornadoes Alabama experienced back in April, but there were some downed trees and fallen limbs. Leaves and small branches were scattered across the streets. And flooding was an issue in many surrounding cities and towns.

By Wednesday morning, a few leaves were still strewn across my yard, and I saw a branch or two on the streets. But mostly, it was a beautiful morning! An unfamiliar crispness in the air and sunny skies made up the weather. And that's when it dawned on me...

Storms enter our lives, usually quickly and unexpectedly, changing our plans:

the death of a loved one
an unexpected diagnosis
the admission of an affair by a spouse
hospitalization of a loved one due to drug use
unexpected termination from your job
financial crisis

With little or no warning, we find ourselves in survival mode. We watch as the storm crashes in on us and hope it doesn't leave damage beyond repair. We're scared, but there's little we can do until the storm settles.

When the initial brunt of the storm is over, we look around to survey the damage. And while the damage may be plenty, we find that we're still standing. We're still surviving. We're still alive! And so it's time to start the process of sifting through the damage and ridding ourselves of the debris:


Before long we find ourselves amidst a "Wednesday morning"...the day the sun shines, and signs of the storm are minimal. We remember the storm, but the damage and debris are mostly gone. Signs of a new day, a time of rejoicing, are clear. We can finally enjoy a fresh start, and we are a little more aware of how to make it through the next storm.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Gift My Mother Gave Me

My mother gave me the gift of loving music. As far back as I can remember, my mother would sing or hum. I remember having a particularly hard time in school my fourth grade year. One morning as I was getting ready for school, dreading the day ahead, my mother shared a trick with me. She said, Whenever I'm sad, I hum or sing. I remember replying, I can't sing at school. She went on to tell me that I could sing in my head or hum very softly.

That day as my class was standing up against a hallway wall, waiting our turn to enter the cafeteria, dread and anxiety weighed on me. My mother's words echoed in my mind, and I began to sing Jesus Loves Me in my head. Within seconds, the weight lifted. Her trick had worked for me. And so began my need to sing about Jesus. I applied that little trick in many circumstances throughout my elementary and middle school days.

Years later, I spent hours singing in the car, driving the long commute to and from school and work. Late night classes left me weary, but singing made the drive home enjoyable. It wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I realized what I'd been doing all those years: worshipping and declaring my need for Jesus. And I was hooked. Worship through song was an essential part of my life.

A couple of years ago, I stopped singing. Like my mother, I'd been one to sing around the house, humming a tune while folding laundry, or belting out a song playing on the radio while I cooked supper. But I allowed circumstances to hinder and almost destroy the way I love to worship. Mark would sometimes come home and mention that he missed hearing me sing. I missed it too, but I'd given up.

My heart would ache and every fiber of my being wanted to scream when the church would sing a song I had so often sung as worship. Tears would slide down my face as I wondered if I'd ever dare to sing again.

Little by little, the flame of my passion began to flicker again. I went from standing silently during the music portion of church service to singing just above a whisper. I couldn't bear to sing much more than that.

Then one day while home alone, I gathered every cd of every song I'd ever sung and stood in front of the speakers, and sang for two solid hours. My voice was shot, but my spirit was soaring. Having sung so many songs declaring the name of Jesus couldn't do anything except lift my spirits. There's something about singing His name that humbles the heart and renews the mind.

There have been so many times that singing about Jesus has been my saving grace. These days I don't take for granted the gift my mother shared with me all those years ago. I count it a privilege to sing the name of Jesus and do so not only with my voice but also with my heart.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reacting, Responding, Grace and Wisdom

I've not written much lately. I've been unable...not necessarily because of circumstances and busyness, but because of a little whisper of attack:


I've written quite a bit recently about grace. And it seems that after almost every grace post, I'm confronted with a circumstance in which I must offer grace. And like I told someone recently, my first responses to unkindness, cruelty and challenges are almost never good. I tend to react instead of respond. Granted, most of my reactions are held secretly in my mind, or at least go no farther than my husband's ears. But sometimes, words and emotions slip right through my lips or from my fingertips and touch the eyes and ears of another. Those are moments I usually regret.

Grace usually enters the scene when I stop to think how I would want to be treated, or how God has showed me grace. If only that were always my first response.

I digress.

So after recent subtle attacks from other Christians about my newfound freedom in Christ, I found myself reacting. And grace was nowhere to be found. I questioned how I could offer grace to those who would rather see me bound in chains of moralism, subjecting myself to the religious status quo than to encourage me in this new, liberating journey. So the dilemma before me is how to offer grace and live in relationship with these when I refuse to be bound by the shackles they would put on me.

You see, I've struggled over the last several months with distinguishing between law and grace. I've begged God for clarification. And what He has shown me is that there's no middle ground. There's absolutely no mixture of the two. The Old Covenant (law) was put to death (dead as a doornail!) with Jesus' death and resurrection, i.e., the New Covenant, grace, redemption. And I refuse to try to live by the law while under such marvelous grace.

It's been so eye-opening for me that the other night I started reading through Romans, and for the first time ever, I understood what I was reading! I didn't have to take verses out of context; I didn't have to question why I thought it contradicted other parts of the Bible. I finally understood!

I digress again.

So what to do about the dilemma? Well, I thought about Jesus. He didn't terminate His gatherings with the Pharisees. He let them ask their questions, and He let them spout off their laws and traditions. But He answered them, whether with silence or words, He answered them...with grace. Either way, the Pharisees would walk away puzzled, more determined than ever to prove Him wrong.

Maybe it takes a huge dose of grace to maintain relationships with those who are bound to moralism and traditions and who would argue their point at every opportunity. Maybe there's a time to be silent and a time to defend, both being founded in grace. Now I just need the wisdom to know when to apply one or the other.

If you've experienced liberating grace, are you able to respond in grace to those who try to bind you in chains?