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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?


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.


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.

Hallie, my daughter who’s a senior, got your college brochure today. I sat it on the bottom of the stairs so she’ll see it when she gets home from work.  She loves getting mail so she’ll likely be excited to see the small stack of invitations to check you (all) out.

She and I both know you send these out by the thousands.  We also both know that your invitation to her isn’t based on her intellectual merit or character as much as it’s based on the dollar signs in the collective eye of your university.  Don’t be offended. I'm sure you value your students and prospective students...I just know it takes money (a lot) to run a reputable, effective and successful institution. And each student=money.

We had a good laugh last year when she received several letters from some of you claiming to be highly interested in her coming for a visit, and eventually applying. Several envelopes addressed her as Ha Llie. For fun, her dad and I called her Ha for weeks.

If she sees your brochure/letter in the next few days and decides she might like to become a Wildcat or a Yellow Jacket I suppose she’ll check out your website or fill out some paperwork. You’ll ask for her birth date, social security number, SAT score and possibly a list of her extra curricular activities, but you’ll still not know any of the things that make her,  her.

You, along with all these senior planning meetings, seem intent on reminding me that she’s fly the coop age, You don’t know who she is, but you’ve got me to thinking more about this treasure that her dad and I are about to somewhat hand over. By the way, she’s worth knowing.

If you get the pleasure of meeting her you’ll notice right off the bat that she’s beautiful. She has her own sense of style that’s seldom dictated by current fashion. She knows everything there is to know about makeup and skincare and will be able to tell you what skin type you have and what products to wear to "youthen" your overall appearance or cover those circles under your eyes.

You won’t know, however, that she loves spending time at home without her makeup, wearing a sloppy ponytail and an oversized sweatshirt while she chills out watching documentaries on Netflix.

Hallie is conscientious. She’s a rule follower and a hard worker. The few times that she makes a mistake she’ll likely have disciplined herself before anyone else gets the chance to help her get back on track. (She’s fiercely independent.) Speaking of strong and independent, she consoled me when she was in second grade after I found out she had been eating lunch alone at school. Though she prefers to accomplish things by herself and spending time by herself, she’s a loyal friend, a supportive sister, and a loving daughter.

She’s genuine. You can trust that any hug or compliment you get from her is sincere and not just a kindness of going through the motions. You can be sure that her support and/or involvement in any activity is based on one of two things; duty or passion. It won’t be because she was manipulated or peer pressured. I probably shouldn't disclose this, but she won't laugh at your jokes if they aren't funny.

She’s still learning her worth. She hates to lose. She loves popcorn and gets anxious driving in the rain. She’s dependable. She’s intelligent. She's oh so witty. And she loves Jesus.

More than likely you’ll never get the chance to know her. I just thought that, given your supposed interest in her, I’d jump on the chance to let you know exactly who she is.


Her Mother

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I had my annual mammogram today. I could write about that and how I think my clavicle might be cracked from the violent nature of that procedure, but I won't. Stay on track, Kristi!

I'm feeling compelled to talk about something else. I was handed the clipboard in the waiting room this morning just like every time. Rather than reading each paragraph, I, like always, looked for every line that required my signature. I filled out the family history section and any other information that was required.

A bubbly brunette directed me to the dressing room where I was about to slip into my drab gown when I was interrupted. When did you say your last cycle was?, she asked. I looked at the clipboard and told her that it was somewhere around the day I had written down. She informed me that I'd have to take a pregnancy test if that was the correct day. Apparently if your last cycle started more than ten days ago you have to take one.

I quickly picked up my phone to look at my calendar figuring I needed to wrack my brain to come up with the right day. I'm not sure when this became the standard (I don't remember being asked to take one before.) I'm assuming it's about the danger of radiation. It's not a bad thing. I'm all for using caution when it comes to the possibility of harming a life that might be growing inside me or someone else.

All this is on the heels of another appointment yesterday. I took my teenage daughter to the dermatologist. He suggested a medication he was certain would help with her skin issues. He then drew his leg up on his opposite knee and rolled his chair back in the corner to start a spiel I could tell he'd given numerous times.

He informed us that for her to be on this skin medication she'd have to take a pregnancy test. The medication is known to cause birth defects. I get it. We're protecting a potential pregnancy.

I'm glad.

What I couldn't get off my mind as the technician today told me a dozen times to relax my arm was the fact that it would appear that the law and the medical profession care about babies.

You don’t have the “choice” when it comes to whether or not you want to take the pregnancy test if you want to participate in these health options.

In these cases it isn't about your body. It's about a body that may be growing inside you; a body that (apparently) is worth protecting.

They mandate that you take a pregnancy test based on the fact that you might be pregnant and that the procedure/medication might hurt the baby.

Only I don't think such lengths are taken simply because we value a baby's health. I would suggest that doctors and facilities are protecting themselves from responsibility for a potential birth defect stemming from their medical (mal)practice. Our laws don't suggest that we really care that much about babies. We care about protecting our skin.

Our laws don't give me the idea that babies are important, well some babies anyway. We care more about our rights to our bodies. A baby is only a baby if the mother wants it to be. Otherwise it's a clump or cells, or as I saw someone write the other day, a pea that will turn into a kid.

We've presently decided as a society that we create our own truth. As if the truth isn't something that's constant. I read a meme today that said, I stand in my truth. Truth isn't wishy washy and it isn't negotiable.

I hate abortion with every fiber of my being. God's truth, the only truth, says, my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place...(Psalm 139:15). The truth is, an unborn life is a life that is already made.

The thought of social media wars stresses us. The idea that someone might see us in more of a negative light for being open about things like abortion brings anxiety. It's easier just to not say anything.

A verse I read in 1 Peter this past week reminded me that love considers when to speak.

...If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God's words... 1 Peter 4:11

I believe this is a truth worth speaking up.

This isn't about my truth and it isn't about yours. This isn't about that common claim, it's my body. For those of us who are believers we know that it isn't honestly only our body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own...

1 Corinthians 6:19

All life is precious. We're under the impression that we can do what we want with it.

That doesn't change the truth.

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It must've been precisely 5:59 am this morning when I had a peculiar dream. It was a dark scene except that I could sense myself and one other thing in the nothingness. A big bucket (held by no one) was looming overhead. Just as I expected, it tipped over, pouring more water than I thought possible to handle.

My mind raced as to whether get towels or the broken mop that sits in the hall closet, but my alarm woke me up at 6 before I could do either.

I rose and made my way downstairs aware that the bucket dream closely resembled the way I approach stillness. I let anxious thoughts, expectations, and briefly forgotten to-do items collect like drops in a bucket. How illustrative that they pour down on me before I'm even awake.

I made my way to the kitchen to fix salad lunches, making sure to write croutons and toilet paper on a notecard shopping list.

I walked past the downstairs bathroom and made the irresponsible choice of stopping at the mirror. Make a hair appointment, I told myself as I aggressively made a swipe under each eye, insisting the leftover mascara at least move to each eye corner. (Ironically I'd be fussing at one of the girls minutes later for not properly removing her own eye makeup the night before.)

Shortly thereafter I was confronted by a pile of mismatched socks, a load of towels waiting on the couch, an unruly Schnauzer, and the strong smell of vinegar reminding me to go finish cleaning the microwave. All this didn't begin to cover the things that needed doing after the kids left for school.

Knowing what my morning needed, I unlocked the front door and scampered barefoot down the sidewalk (hoping no one would see me in my morning glory). I grabbed my Bible from the front seat, clutching it as a lifeline. I was stopped by a colony of ants who'd claimed a new address in our sidewalk crack overnight.

I sit now surrounded by that aforementioned pile of socks and load of towels. Dust on the nearby bookshelf and Rylie's sagging "13" balloons battle to capture my attention, but I won't let them have it. I'm chasing a good thought.

Those ants outside want in on the swarming thoughts inside my head, so I Google search those guys. Come to find out they're pavement ants. When the heat gets too much to handle...when life gets too crowded, they move. Strange enough, sidewalk cracks seem to be prime real estate...location, location, location.

Horticulturalists believe sidewalk cracks are a good move because they're an entryway to aerated soil below. Ants can aerate the soil through effort, but sidewalk cracks are an already-prepared place for them to breathe.

("the pavement ant ...prefers dry, well-aerated soils such as those commonly found under pavements and sidewalks..." -Walter Nelson, horiculturalist)

More toil won't fix things. Neither will a break... or our favorite coffee. We don't just need a new book on the best-sellers list, a Frappuccino, or a housecleaner to refresh our spirits (don't go and cross those things off your list). It's just that we need something more.

Whether life's bucket looms overhead or is reigning down terror we need a place to truly escape; a place that may initially seem less-productive. We need a spot beyond the toil where the world disappears for a bit...a place where heavy sighs can be exchanged for breaths of fresh air.

God has prepared such a place for the weary and hurried. Time with God through prayer and reading scripture invites us into His refuge from the busy and often hard road overhead. God wants to take hold of our bucket. He's waiting for us to ask.

Hear my cry, O God,

    listen to my prayer;

from the end of the earth I call to you

    when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock

    that is higher than I,

for you have been my refuge,

    a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in your tent forever!

    Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!

Psalm 61:1-4

Our church is going though A 14 day devotion by Tim Keller. Click on the link to join us.

Growth isn’t always good. Aging is teaching me this valuable lesson. My waistline is growing. Grays are too. The nest that was carefully and lovingly built for my three children isn’t growing, but my kids are, to a point where the nest isn’t as comfortable as it once was. Thus, sorrow grows.

My fears grow from time to time without my having fed them. Shame grows within me when I think about choices I've made in the face of a gracious God. Guilt grows too.

Feelings of inadequacy tower over me sometimes, like a giant beanstalk. I find myself immobile in the shadow. Strangely, I can be feeling inadequate one minute, and then pride sprouts right alongside a well-established "I’m not good enough” plant.

Jealousy grows.

So does selfishness.

Gluttony swells.

Impatience builds.

No, growing doesn't always benefit .

I thought on this today while I tackled a weed-filled flowerbed in my front yard. After killing the intruders, I did my best to bury what remained with bag after bag of mulch. I raked and I wished those weeds dead, beyond any hope of resurrection. I looked at the covered ground and was perfectly pleased.

We have a tendency to focus solely on growth. We forget that growth is intermingled with death; often dependent on it.

I can do a little about my expanding waist. I can hide my grays, though they’ll really still be there. Some kinds of unwanted growth we learn to live with.

Sin is meant to die.

Sure. Pray for growth. But don’t give up on conquering. Though we have no power of our own to defeat sin, that power exists.

The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 5:4-5 (The Message)

The power is in the cross. Death is the precursor to life.

What unpromising seedlings have begun to sprout in you? Worse, what has held on to you with clinging roots, supposing that you’ve given up; submitted to its stubborn presence?

What do you need to believe to death today?

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I’m guilty of being sucked into sensational news. I’ve passed this not-so-admirable curiosity on to my youngest who reads tabloid headlines out loud while we wait at checkout to purchase chips and bread. Thankfully, the reporting on a beautiful pod of orcas, or killer whales, has captured my attention over the last two weeks.

You've probably read, or heard, about it. Seventeen days ago, off of the coast of British Columbia, an orca named Tahlequah gave birth to her calf. The calf died shortly thereafter. The touching event that has taken place since has tugged on the world’s heartstrings.

Photo credit-People

“The whale, known as Tahlequah or J35, is one of just 75 Southern Resident killer whales left in the ocean, and her calf — which died minutes after it was born last month — was the group’s first live birth since 2015. Tahlequah has been spotted in waters off the Pacific Northwest multiple times over the past two weeks, often pushing her calf’s corpse through the water or swimming with it balancing on her forehead.

-Here's the kicker-

Other members of the pod have even taken turns carrying its body.”

(according to TIME)

In some capacity we can relate to this mother’s broken heart. We can understand her inability to move on from this insufferable loss.

It’s her pod, though, from who we can gain a valuable lesson. They’re not leaving her to carry her grief alone. Eventually her deceased calf will be abandoned to a watery grave. Not now. Her pod isn't choosing to distract her. They’re not encouraging her to move on. Instead, they’re entering into grief with her; carrying her sorrow as their own.

We’d rather there not be such loss, but we have no control over that. We only are in control of our response.

I’ve had more conversations than I can count, some recently, about the difficulty in knowing what to say or do when it comes to ministering to those suffering loss. The answer is that we never truly know what to say or do.

We can all recount a time when we approached a hurting soul. Maybe we practiced what we’d say, knowing no words existed that could provide healing in that moment. Maybe we hugged extra hard and long, willing our heart to communicate our pain on their behalf.

We might have made a casserole, bought a plant, donated to a Go Fund Me account, or sent a card. Whatever it is that we've said or done, it wasn’t so much about making them forget their sadness, as if that could happen. The note we wrote likely didn't have wisdom to make sense of their situation. Our casserole wasn’t about filling their hungry bellies, as if having their stomach filled eased their pain.

We entered into grief with them. We reminded them that they’re not alone. We offered them a little extra strength to get through the day.

We will never be able to eliminate someone’s grief. We can only hope that we’ll ease it by offering to walk alongside the hurting. We can help carry the unbearable load they bear.

Entering into grief with others isn't pretty. We grapple with words. We're often frightened by this darkness in which we have little light to offer. But sharing in someone's grief is deeply beautiful; and an act of love we're all called to.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Romans 15:1