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Tamales or hotdogs? I wondered to myself as I got in the car after church today. I wasn't sure if I had enough hotdogs to feed everybody who would be at our house so I called our middle kid, Hallie, who'd already had time to get home with our thirteen year old, Rylie.

I asked,

Would you look and see how many hotdogs are in the package in the fridge?

I can't, she explained. We're at a raid.

I smiled and told her to carry on and text me when she got home.

Had you told me before this year that my kids would be out loitering, admittedly at a raid, I'd likely be upset, or at least confused. These days when they're running the streets together I know they're playing Pokémon Go, and I'm perfectly happy with it.

In case you're not hip to Pokémon Go, here's how lifehacker.com describes it.

In Pokémon, monsters roam the lands, and your job is to find, capture, and train them. Then you put them in battle against other players...The game works by using your phone’s GPS for your real-world location and augmented reality to bring up those cool-looking Pokémon on your screen, overlaid on top of what you see in front of you.

...me, that time I caught a bulbasaur...

I haven't always been grateful for Pokémon. Thirteen years ago our oldest, Hayden found a Pokémon trading card (the original card game that started the Pokémon craze) at my grandmas house. There were several cards lying on the ground where an older cousin had left them. An older teenager, this cousin was moving on to bigger and better things and told Hayden to take those cards (and several others he had tucked away somewhere.)

It's more than a decade later. Pokémon has made the move with us to three different houses. It's provided all three kids with hours of entertainment and plenty of questions to bug me with. Mama, who do you think is more powerful, a charmander or eevee?

I still have no idea how to play, but I'll throw some terms to show you, and my kids, that I'm at least superficially aware of what they've been playing: •trainer •points •trade •water/fire/plant •energy •attacks •Pikachu, Jigglypuff (Jigglypuff just so happened to be a Pokémon name I heard no less than a thousand times on a worn out Pokémon episode.)

There were cartoons, stuffed animals and DS games and an entire aisle in Target where you could buy trading cards in a foil pack or in bulk with a specially priced anniversary tin. I was glad when Hayden and Hallie were both in the phase at the same time and could occupy each other. The downside would be that upon graduating from the Pokémon obsession, he'd passed the love for all things Pokémon on to Hallie.

Rather than delighting in unicorns or barbies, birthday requests during those preteen years included the Pokémon Ruby version for her Nintendo DS.

Now we have Pokémon Go. And my girls go on raids where they temporarily ditch life's worries and demands, and in childlike innocence escape to a world where life plays by simple rules.

They cruise to fast food parking lots and the Masonic Lodge. They go to the park and take walks while on the lookout for monsters they can battle...together.

I don't know how much longer this phase will last. I don't know if I'll ever understand Pokémon and it's rules of training, and playing and winning. They don't choose to include me in it anymore. I'm just glad that it's been a part of my children's growing (most importantly alongside one another). It's a game that exceeds my understanding, but has earned my delight.



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Why is it that I always have the most to say when I have the least opportunity to say it? I'm smack in the middle of a dozen projects on the cusp of a new year.

2019 is about to roll in and I think I'm ready for it. I've a host of things I'm happily waving goodbye to. I've a big collection of beautiful things (some of them hard things) that go in life's treasure box. In it are hard fought battles and lessons learned.

Because I'm pressed for time here are three thoughts that are duking it out in my head, this last day of December.

Find a new dream.

I found this jewel yesterday in my youngest' room. I found a lot of stuff in there. More to come on that. But how ironic is this? Never give up on a dream just... And then she quits!

Seriously though, not every dream will be realized. Do dream. Just keep in mind...Not every dream should come to fruition. Some dreams are for tucking away; thankful that they came and danced over you for a while.

Consult the dream maker. His plans are wilder and far better than anything we could come up with. Stick with obedience and faith. The results will win out over any dream we can think up.

You never know what's under someone's bed.

I spent hours cleaning out my youngest' room yesterday. I mean we cleaned out the calf-high pile of junk in her closet. We cleaned off shelves and went through drawers. I sat near her with a garbage bag as she pulled out old water bottles and dusty divorced socks from the abyss under her bed. I consoled her as she parted with a number of her stuffed animals that had stitching where she'd cut them to practice her sewing skills...Maybe a future doctor?

I invited my my husband, Jason to come see the progress today. He'll eventually go peek in the room, but he won't understand. If I showed him the eight garbage bags in the garage he might get a better idea. Still, he'll never appreciate the magnitude of work that was done on that room. Neither would you. Onlookers hardly ever know, much less fully appreciate, the blood, sweat, and tears that a person sheds to get through a mess.

We do best to keep that in mind with those we come into contact, and those we pass up on our street and in the grocery store.

Everybody's got a mess somewhere that's out of sight to you. They're living with it, either doing their best to ignore its unhealthy presence or else fighting it with all they've got, seemingly alone and maybe even ashamed. We're all busy, but we could all spend a little more time in contact with those around us. Maybe they'll let us see their mess and we'll be able to celebrate with them when it's overcome. Maybe we can even help them unite a sock duo in the cleanup.

Tell your story.

I know. I harp on this subject, but I can't help myself. God writes the BEST stories. The past week I was able to travel down memory lane. My Granny, who is in glory, was there in this old painting I found. Years ago it hung in a cheap frame in her bathroom above the tabloids that were stacked on the back of her toilet.

I never knew she painted it. I honestly didn't give it much attention. It was just there. How many hours did she put into it? Why did she paint it? I wish I'd known to ask. For now, I'll reframe her painting and hang it up in my house. Maybe if I listen hard enough it will talk.

I visited with my 93 year old Grandad on Wednesday. Man, does he have stories to tell! These days few of them are true. He told of traveling to every country on the globe and about being born in Paloduro Canyon.

He told us as we were leaving that he was getting ready to travel again with the five star general. I listened intently because his story proved that there's still a twinkling personality (a sense of adventure) in that frail body covered up by a flannel blanket. And I partly listened out of regret that I let so many years pass without taking the time to really listen to all the things he had to say.

So tell stories in 2019. And maybe more important, listen. Ask questions. God speaks to us through others and to others through us.

More than anything, don't neglect to talk to Jesus and to listen to Him too. He takes what seems senseless and makes a new and beautiful song that makes our days a little more merry and bright, even though Christmas is tucked away.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

Happy 2019



There were 300 miles left to go. We'd already driven through a few towns. We were practically the only ones on the usually crowded highway. It was still dark and the fog was thick.

Every few minutes headlights were visible. Christmas lights, the large bulb kind, were strung across two poles towering over a fireworks stand on the side of the road. Beside the stand was a small marquis advertising Roman Candles for New Year festivities. Restaurant signs in town added blurs of color in the otherwise fuzzy night palette.

It was early Christmas morning. Most everyone was still in bed; any visions of sugarplums had quit dancing hours ago. But we were wide awake; moving ahead, our sight sorely limited. We trudged on though darkness surrounded us.

Darkness. It's a word that we're unlikely to talk much about but at Christmas, but darkness was, in fact, the setting for the first Christmas. Darkness can become our Christmas setting too. Fires claim houses. The news of a car accident taking three young lives (and forever changing the lives of others) seizes the whole town. Cancer steals the life of one who brought so much light into this world. Loneliness makes its presence known.

It's not that such tragedy and heartache isn't so difficult in July. It's the fact that Christmas brings about merrymaking, and merrymaking and bright colored packages stand in stark contrast to unbearable loss.

"It makes me feel split in two." I told my friend. Even when safe in our own boat we're surrounded by a world of sorrow. We're still tender from a battle we recently fought. We're crushed at the hurt around us. Darkness and light battle it out.

"How does anyone live their days without hope?", we wonder.

Hope is what keeps us afloat. There are dotted blurs of light placed on our path reminding us that there's something out there beyond the abyss. It won't be dark forever.

The sun is sure. We trust in its presence even when it's warm rays aren't felt, or seen. The coming of Christ is something we can trust in too.

He entered the darkness. And as the choir sang at candlelight service, darkness fell. Sure a degree of darkness visits us with each twenty-four hour rotation of this temporary globe. It invades our heart as it takes from us those things we love. But the darkness has been overcome. Someday it will be gone for good. There's singing under my breath this morning.

All is well all is well 
Angels and men rejoice 
For tonight darkness fell 
Into the dawn of love's light

We're offered an eternity without darkness. Until then there are flickers of light all around us.

 



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I, at least briefly, think about the shepherds every Christmas season. Usually it’s either when I’m putting out my dollar store nativity or else when I’m putting a certain ornament on the tree. My friend and fellow kid's choir leader, Lisa, gave me the shepherd ornament to remember the Christmas play we did one year. Hayden was the shepherd for our children’s Christmas musical when he was four.

He was given a few instructions for his minor part. He was told where to stand. He was reminded to sing. And he was encouraged to smile. His biggest part was one line that he was supposed to say when “the angels came to visit.”

“Let us go to Bethlehem and see this child.”

Eighteen years later I still distinctly hear him saying those words in his tiny hick voice. (Probably because we'd rehearsed them a hundred times.)

Did he really know what he was saying? In the midst of practices and our arranging the cattle and sheep, and the angels, and Mary and Joseph, did I give much thought to why sheep herders were the first to hear the news?

Luke 2 tells us about the shepherds. We're not given their names or their genealogy. We're not told how many of them there were. All we're really told is that the field they were in was in the vicinity of where Mary and Joseph and newborn Jesus were.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Luke 2:8

The shepherds hold a special place in the Christmas story, but here's what I'm thinking.

1. The shepherds likely didn't recognize they had a calling an hour before the angel visit. (I doubt they found themselves saying, "Jethro, something feels different about tonight." or "Do you ever wonder if you're meant for something more than sheep watching?"

2. They might not have been nobility, but they had responsibilities; responsibilities that took a backseat to worshiping Christ's coming (Luke 2:16 says, "They hurried."). They dropped what they thought had mattered (in their case, their livelihood) to take part in the important event. They also spread the the word (when they had seen him) in such a way that all who heard were amazed. Were they eloquent or gifted storytellers or was it just such a good story?

3. Did they even comprehend who He was? Using a parent/teacher tactic the angel took great care to describe in three ways who it was that had been born in that manger (for those who didn't get it the first time.) Born to you is the:

  • Savior
  • Messiah
  • Lord

I wonder about the names of the shepherds. Did they know much about the prophecy? Were they good shepherds? Were they good men?! Were they worthy of being chosen to be the first visitors and then heralds of the best news ever, short of the empty tomb news?

I'm not sure any of that matters as much as the simple fact that there in Bethlehem a savior was born...and to no credit of their own... the shepherds were nearby.

Because of his coming, we all have a nearby Jesus. That, in and of itself lands us a calling that takes priority over any other purpose we might think we have. Who He is exceeds our comprehension, but we have an inkling.

What will we do with His presence?

What will we do with what we know of Him?



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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness... it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope...

-A Tale of Two Cities

2018 was a good year. If you're connected to our family you might be interested to know (or be reminded) that:

  • Hayden graduated from LIT and now makes enough to not only buy milk for himself but also is making enough to have bought himself a new(ish) truck and is putting back good savings. He found a sweet girl who will (most of the time) laugh when he's picking on her and seems to like him enough to stick around even for the jokes she doesn't like.
  • Hallie is a senior and has been accepted to Texas Tech, (though we're rooting for Lamar). She's getting some great work experience getting and giving quotes at a local insurance company. She has wonderful friends (something I prayed long and hard for) and a nice boyfriend. She's my beauty consultant and I sneak in her room and use her makeup when she's gone.
  • Rylie, the baby, is a teenager now. She involves herself in just about every school and church club and activity that she can. Throughout the years, and especially this year, she's suffered not making the team a few times, but in typical Rylie fashion she laments and then picks herself up by the bootstraps and tries the next thing (This is probably one of my favorite things about her-even though it causes me some serious grief and stress.) Band, Bullpup Believers and church youth activities have been a source of real joy and success for her.

  • The siblings are starting to go beyond loving each other. I noticed this year that they're really starting to like each other and seem to prefer to hang out with each other versus hanging out with me. It feels slightly injurious, but hey, if this continues maybe I'll have time to take up knitting next year. Nah, but maybe I'll have time to read a book.
  • I'm still crazy about Jason and I think he still likes me even though I'm kind of crazy. He stays busy, but I believe in the purposefulness of his long hours. He gets paid for doing kingdom work. How awesome is that? He loves God and loves people and I love watching him do what he's good at.
  • I'm still trying to write when I get the opportunity. I started a book this past January about letting go of control. Ironically, no book yet, I'm still gripping the pen. (I need some more work.)

Like every family there are jagged pieces to our puzzle. Sharing just the good stuff, quite frankly, doesn't do justice to the work of Jesus in our lives, particularly in the hard things.

This year has had plenty of trials that honestly had me pleading for mercy.  Do you write in a Christmas card that in the past twelve months the family spent too many nights without eating supper together and suffered a hard diagnosis (beyond our ordinary ills)? There were friendships that went by the wayside, losses, several fender benders and car trouble, kid trouble, silly disappointments and tough, valid disappointments too.

There's reason to share the tough stuff too.

Contrary to a good song, Christmas has never really been about our days being merry and bright. Christmas comes to remind us that life without true light is, well, so very dark... even with its annual brags of beautiful growing families, accomplishments and other graces.

So Merry Christmas to you if you've had a year without much trouble, but the wish goes out to you much more if in this season, you're reminded of loss and heartache.

The light shines in the darkness, (I say especially in darkness...) and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

We all have reason to celebrate, and more important, cause to worship.

May you see a great light this season.

Love,

The Burdens



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One of my favorite parts of teaching was reading my student's journals. I'd give them a prompt, What would you do with fifty dollars?, and then delight in their answers.

I'd find that Jenna would use fifty bucks to buy "a casel and a hors". Reading their writing revealed their skill and knowledge level. It also opened up the well inside their heart.

I loved getting a glimpse into what was important to them. I can clearly see my oldest (Hayden's) journal page one day when asked about what he would do over the weekend in his second grade class. He drew a pretty impressive jet cruising the globe. He still has an interest in geography and has an incredible knowledge of, and passion about, current world events.

We write down what's important to us...things that matter...the things we don't want to forget.

In our earlier years we might have scrawled Kristi loves Jason on our biology notebook. Now birthdays and appointments go on our calendars. We shoot a Hope your test goes well! text to a loved one.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that God saw to it that we have a whole book declaring we matter, but I landed on a particular verse while reading a Psalm that prompted me to grab my pen and start underlining. It's worth gaining our attention.

In Psalm 56, in response to having been a fugitive, David, passes along words I believe we would all do good to remember when we're overcome with sadness or pain or hopelessness or fear...

David cried out to God,

Record my misery;

List my tears on your scroll-

Are they not in your record? Psalm 56:8

A friend called me up yesterday right in the middle of her busyness. She'd known that I'd been struggling with some anxiety. She also knew I was carrying some sorrow for loved ones. As I shared my burden for suffering family members she had me wait while she searched for a notebook and a pen. And then she did something that was truly a balm for my tender soul.

She wrote down the names of those I was hurting for, and every concern that went alongside the corresponding name.

She was recording my misery; writing down my worries; the important, heavy things weighing down my heart. And just like when I tell my daughter to help me remember an orthodontist appointment she has on Thursday (because it's a sort of weight sharing), my dear friend lightened my heart because she took my concerns upon herself. Like those things we write down that we deem important, she wrote my sorrows down...

One chapter before David makes mention of the list of tears our God keeps on a scroll, he beckons us to wisdom.

Cast your cares upon the LORD and he will sustain you... Psalm 55:22

How good is a God who cares enough to make record of our deepest pains and puts friends in our lives who will do the same?



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Oh me of little faith...

Weekly, I ask Facebook a single question. Typically I post a short anonymous survey regarding Christian living. We discuss the results on Sunday in Bible Fellowship. When I run out of steam I just type a quick question like the one this past Sunday:

What prayer has God answered in your life, or in the life of someone you love? Did you get what you asked for?

And man! The responses...

The comments showed consistently that God's answer to prayer are

  • Specific
  • Miraculous
  • Timely
  • Trustworthy
  • Given in love

Of course you'd think that you have to ask (God) a question to get an answer (from Him).

I don't always ask him for things. I take a different approach when I'm really needing to hear from my Father.

Like Hezekiah and Job, I'm good at lamenting my circumstances.

I'm a whiner.

Though I can't remember, I think I might have been the kid that cried, "I'mmmm thirrrrsty," rather than asking for a drink.

I know I tend to be that way in prayer anyway. I have a perplexing philosophy.

God knows what I desire... and more importantly, I trust Him to bring about those things in my life which I need... So why ask?

That doesn't stop me from complaining to God while I'm waiting for him to respond to the thing (that in trust) I didn't ask for.

I've been working on my feeble, fussy faith. I had the perfect opportunity to do so today.

Shortly before Jason left town this morning our schnauzer vomited and diarrhea-ed both inside and outside the crate, as an omen (I believe) to a messy afternoon on the way.

Around 3:30 after getting a call about an evening meeting I needed to attend, I got a call from our oldest daughter, Hallie, who was stranded with a dead battery at the high school. I grabbed Hallie, then our youngest, Rylie, and took Hallie to work. I found jumper cables and swung by to grab my oldest so that he could help jump (jumper?) her car.

Let's just say it was cold and we hurried. After zooming back to the house to take care of supper before going back to get Hallie from work, I looked for my phone... which lay on the hood of my car last I remembered.

I searched my purse and both cars a handful of times. I borrowed Rylie's phone and called myself while straining my ear wishfully to hear a faint ring somewhere within the seats...or hood...or a pocket on my sweatshirt I might have forgotten about. No luck.

I jumped back in the car (with my gas tank almost empty) and drove slow; retracing my path...knowing that if I found my phone somewhere on the road, it would probably be in bad shape.

I might mention that Jason has an iPhone finder which has the capability of showing the GPS location of my phone. Too bad he was on a flight to Nashville.

While I drove, I prayed.

I reminded God I needed help . Not just to find my phone. I simply acknowledged my need for him. I attempted to focus on him instead of my circumstances. This isn't anything new. This is my "pre-complaint" stage of prayer, before I get impatient.

I drove back to the high school keeping my eyes concentrated on the pavement. Still didn't find it. Jason called after landing and found that my phone was somewhere close to Nashville Ave.

Believe it or not, the phone had traveled on my hood from the high school to 18th St. and all the way down Canal. After making two more turns it made a corner and then shot across the driver's side hood all the way to the passengers side and into a yard...without my knowing.

And it's unscathed.

My phone took a little a joyride today. I think I might I have taken one too. God's reminder that He's near was too good for me to have thought up.

While Jason was on the way to Nashville, TN. God showed up on my Nashville.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19



I have an uncanny ability to remember the cost of every item in my closet. While I can't tell you exactly how much my blue striped blouse cost, I can tell you that it cost around $24 and was a part of a buy one get one half-off deal.

This would've been a sweet bargain except that the armhole ripped after wearing it two times. I had the lady at Estelle's Fashion Cleaners repair it. That cost around $9, making my BOGO deal a little less thrifty.

I'm not sure why I hold on to the useless information of the cost of my wardrobe. Perhaps I got it from two of my aunts who were bargain shoppers. Getting the best bang for your buck earns bragging rights which go like this:

Someone in the doctor's office looks and says, I love that top.

Me: Oh yeah? I love long shirts. I ordered it from Jane.com. They have a lot of cute things for under $20.

I believe there are mention-worthy purchases. (Please ask me about my fringe earrings that I got off the internet for four bucks.) Those lightweight prizes decorate my ears without stretching my earlobes...I like big earrings.)

Going further than just telling you where I get my clothes, or how much they cost, I'll show you how you can shop with a touch of a button on your phone. A kind lady at Party City two weeks ago helped me find a coupon on my phone while in the checkout line so that my Rylie could be a mad scientist on Halloween for 15% off.

We sisters ought to help one another out.

After reading through my Bible this morning it's no wonder that I'm thinking about the price at which I was bought. As imperfect and unfaithful as I am God paid a hefty price for my fickle heart.

Like my striped blouse with the mended armpit, I have a few concealed holes myself and I'm quite certain that I'm missing a few buttons (figuratively speaking.) To think such a big price would be paid for me...

In my wardrobe purchases I've either gotten what I paid for (a $10 shirt that loses a button in three wears) or else I've made a steal like the stretchy $20 Target jeans I've worn weekly for several years now. I'll never pay an outrageous amount.

The price that was paid for me is much more conversation worthy. I bear a price tag worth mentioning. My life cost Christ his.

... you were ransomed...not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

1 Peter 1:18-19

And though Jesus did the paying, I'm the one who reaps the benefits, including but not limited to, eternal life with my Heavenly Father, unmerited grace, and unending love. It's mind boggling and heart bending and worth the sharing.

I'm still working on how to get the word out. People don't always seem as excited about where I got my ticket to eternity as they do about my buffalo plaid top (that's missing a button by the way).

Feel free to ask me where I get my hope. And please tell me the story of where yours comes from. And know that on days like today, when I really remember how much Christ defined my worth through his death on the cross, I may just tell you, even if you don't ask.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1Peter 3:15



I was asked to do the dreaded this week.  My middle schooler asked me to come have lunch with her at school. I know I should be grateful for the invitation. And I am.

It's just that Halloween day was the only time I could swing it. You know how kids go and act at Halloween. To make matters worse, she asked on a week where I've been experiencing chronic headaches. In case you didn't know, headaches and school cafeterias don't mix.

Like a good mom. I picked up her favorite, a meatball sub, and signed in at the front desk. I slipped into the lunchroom just in time to hug some girls who became some of my favorites last spring after doing a study with them. My daughter, Rylie, joined me at a table I'd unwittingly picked by the garbage can.

I didn't bring a lunch for myself, so I did what I do best while Rylie scarfed down her sandwich. I people-watched. More specifically, I middle school people-watched, scanning every table. I checked the crowd to see if anyone was sitting alone. No one was.

I like to think I have a radar that searches for the broken and alone.  Middle school is a place you can often find such characters. One of my daughters sat alone for a spell during those years. The other daughter (during lunch one year) was voted the one they most wished was absent from their table. Another day, when the voting game had progressed, she was the one at her table voted most wished to be dead. Of course both of my girls survived the nonsense. But now I scan lunch tables to see if there might be some other kid who's suffering lunch time nonsense.

What I saw today, instead, was a room full of appropriately livened conversation (which is hard to accomplish.) I saw smiles and a certain seventh grade boy who flossed like nobody's business while Thriller played on the loud speaker.

Several, who were clearly employed to oversee lunch, lead the kids in singing Happy Birthday while seventh and eighth graders sang along, many delightfully off key.

I asked Rylie who her favorite cafeteria worker is.  While taking the last bite of her ice cream push-up she pointed to her favorite, but she likes them all.

Close to the stage a cheery custodian, in Halloween makeup and a bright orange tutu, danced with her broom as she scooted between tables. As I watched several boys allowed to show their dauntless dance moves, I recalled the prayer service parents and community members held at CO Wilson this fall before school started. After praying together we were permitted to individually pray in the hallways and over the lockers and classrooms.

I chose to pray for the cafeteria. I prayed that there wouldn't be a single child who ate alone, and that students would make the best of their opportunity with this daily unstructured thirty minutes. I prayed that students, at an age where they likely struggle with their own self-esteem, would positively pour into one another...both into their best friends and the kid they don't hang out with who ended up at their table.

I don't know if the CO Wilson cafeteria is this happy a place all of the time.  I pray it is. I just know that I'm grateful for you lunch ladies, custodians, and those employed to monitor and emcee while students eat their one hundredth turkey sandwich and swig down their milk.

You do a job that doesn't always receive much thanks. While I didn't see a single kid alone today, I saw kids who had forgotten about basketball tryouts, confusing math problems and the mess they'll go home to this afternoon. And I saw you. I saw your meaningful engagement and I want you to know...it makes a difference.



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An old round oak table sits in my breakfast nook. Unmatching worn out chairs surround it. But even If I had a million dollars to spruce up my house, I wouldn’t part with it. The table was my Granny’s. I must have eaten a hundred bowls of ABC soup scooted up to it. I delighted in the same number of folded over pieces of butter and sugar bread while growing up around it. I was blessed enough to have inherited this treasure.

Were you to put the slightest amount of weight on it, you’d notice it wobbles, or else creaks and rolls slightly across the tile floor. It’s made to be used with a leaf, but we just keep it in its small round state. If you were to come and sit at it, I’d advise against you looking between the two wooden half moons that fit together (where the extra leaf goes.) There are likely crumbs in the crevice, because it needs a good cleaning.

At least the table’s base is intact these days. Thirteen years ago it received significant damage when being moved from one house to another.  The pedestal base cracked after it was dropped. For two years our visibly broken table entertained guests while the base was being held together by two blue ratchet straps.

The base has been repaired, but the table top could use a refinishing. Underneath layers of Old English Scratch Cover, you can see Sharpie marks left over by one of the kid’s school projects and a few unfinished spots where I’d used rubbing alcohol to get ink out of a pair of jeans without realizing it would soak through to the table.  There are dents and scratches too; each one has its unique origin.

While the table is certainly in need of restoration, I have no desire to bring it back to its original state. I can’t imagine stripping it of its history. The grain, written upon and worn, has stories to tell.

I don’t suppose we’re much different.  We’ve witness to bear, but often we’re too tired, too defeated, and maybe even too fearful to allow ourselves to be known. So we stay covered.

Maybe you need a refreshing; a holy renovation and some new wind in your spirit.  You're in need of restoration. You're due some extra time with your maker. No matter if your weariness is showing. No need to be polished or shiny. No matter your stains. Bring your wobbly doubt. Just don't be surprised if evidence of your struggle remains.

Though we wish for our troubles to melt like lemon drops, it's unlikely God will eliminate, or help us hide, our inadequacies and hurts. No, its precisely our scuffed up self that God wants to employ. He'll tend to our wounds and heal them, but often the scars will remain as a beautiful display of his power. God has taken the imperfections of people since time began; creating masterful art.

In Luke 8, we read the story of a demon possessed man who for a long time had not worn clothes or lived in a house (v. 27), but rather lived in the tombs. Naked and wretched he emerged from the solitary place (where the demons had driven him). He met Jesus. As we know, Jesus cast out the demons; sending them into a herd of pigs. Verse 36 tells us that those from town, who saw the man now dressed and in his right mind, were spreading the word, but who better to share the victory than the one who suffered the demons himself? Though the healed man begged Jesus to go with him and perhaps start a new life (void of any evidence of his old life), Jesus told him to

Return home and tell how much God has done for you. Luke 8:39

Certainly the man could have toured with Jesus. Instead, Jesus sent him back to the place from where he came. And so familiar him went back to familiar territory and likely astonished all those around him, for he now carried a powerful and undeniable new presence in the face of those who’d known his chains. That demon possessed man they’d known had truly experienced change.

You might remember that Jesus also healed a paralyzed man (in Mark 2), not before canceling the power of sin in his life (v. 5.) Jesus gave him a new spirit and then told him to get up and take his mat and go home. Clearly he didn’t need his mat anymore, but Jesus made a point to tell him to take it with him. Jesus purposed him to carry it. We’re told that he walked out in full view (which) amazed everyone and they praised God (v. 12.) His mat had become a useless accessory, but also a compelling illustration to onlookers. I hope he kept it always, as his own reminder of the victory found in Jesus.

What scars from the past, or current hurts, do you bring to the table today?

What fear or current difficulty has you wobbling, or else paralyzed?

Dear God,

You are author of all that is good. Help me to trust you to use any and every part of my life; especially the seemingly unusable parts to bring you glory (the tired part, the scared part, the part I keep covered) Restore me and use me how you see fit.

This Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25, I'll be attending a local conference held for minister's wives and women in ministry. This is a devotion for the women who will be there. Please pray for restoration. Pray that we would learn new steps in the delicate dance of both resting in Jesus and serving him diligently; a dance he desires we all take part in. May we bring him glory this weekend and in the days ahead.

If by chance you're a minister's wife or a woman in ministry let me know if you're interested in attending.