Tag Archives: christian living

It's a surprising story,...my deciding to model. 

You see, I've only had one opportunity to model apparel and I skipped out. Around five years ago there was a fashion show planned at our church. The girls (Hallie and Rylie) and I were invited to participate. I begrudgingly agreed. 

We went to Dillards where somebody else (who declined to ask about my taste) picked out my clothes. The girls were thrilled, especially Hallie who was given a black and white polka-dotted top with a cute hot pink blazer and some skinny jeans. Rylie could have cared less what she'd be wearing, she was just excited she'd be on stage. Outfits were planned. 

The closer the fashion show got, the more nervous I grew. I don't care for being a visual focus. Put some clothes on me that don't suit me and I really don't enjoy being a spectacle. 

The day before the show, Hallie came down with a bad case of the flu. And you want to know what? Besides being sad that my baby was terribly uncomfortable, I was secretly relieved that I had an excuse to ditch my modeling gig. 

That's it. That's the only time I've had a chance to model (unless pageants count). I was a contestant in The Old Settler’s Reunion Pageant when I was around ten. It was held outdoors in a pavilion the last week of July. In the middle of our parading ourselves in front of judges and the audience, a strike of lightning blew out the electricity. All contestants were summoned backstage where we near melted. I was with my cousin who was also a contestant when we found out that our Granny had just been taken to the hospital. 

I cried backstage for a host of reasons. I cried harder when I didn't win. 

So here you have a few reasons I despise putting myself out there. 

  • Fear- What if I'm ineffective? What if I'm ill-received? A laughing stock? What if I fall? 
  • My avoidance of discomfort- Modeling usually requires I wear something that isn't me. Typically, the apparel is itchy/strange/not me/confining. Modeling is in opposition to one of my favorite pastimes, relaxation. 
  • It's a contest (of sorts). Will I get picked? (Win the contest/Be adored because my clothes and myself are cute…) If I'm not going to get picked, I'd rather not play. 

That's why I guess I was surprised when I opened scripture yesterday and felt a special calling, not only for me to model, but to invite you to do some modeling too. 

 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. 

You became imitators of us and of the Lord...with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 

And so you became a model

1 Thessalonians 1:4-7

Maybe it's more than an invitation. Do we really get to choose if we model or not? People are watching. Rather than choosing whether or not we want to model life in Christ, we choose to be a good model or a bad one. There's no such thing as a closet Christian. You're on stage whether or not you know it. 

Sure we’ll face rejection when we speak truth and live it. We may fear others watching us fall when we don't live truth because we’re human. 

Modeling Christ can be uncomfortable. It calls us to put on clothes of humility and forgiveness which are often confining. 

Often we won't be adored. We’ll lose in an earthly sense when we put ourselves out there with the idea that a life like Jesus’ should be mimicked. 

If you're a Christ follower then you've likely been blessed to have observed a good model or two yourself. Either a grandmother, parent, Sunday school teacher or neighbor showed you what it was like to live for Christ. Their comfort, their fear and their need to make life all about themselves lost priority when they experienced the power of serving the Savior. And you saw that. 

How can we not follow suit? 

The world, our neighborhood, our homes need models, imperfect ones, who point them to the fullness found in Christ. They need to be shown, to be told.

The deepest of joy is often found in the midst of fear and discomfort. 

Can we go out on a limb? 

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What is wrong with me?

I'm sitting in my car writing this post on my phone after carefully diverting my tears with an eye-roll designed to distract. 

I just dropped Rylie, the eleven year old, off at Lamar for volleyball camp. I'm nervous. I'm kind of sad.  And I'm hot (from sitting in the car). 

It's not like I'm going to miss her or anything. I'll pick her back up at noon. McDonald Gym (though it took me a little time to find) is only about ten minutes from the house. So why am I a mess? 

Maybe driving here this morning brought up thirty-year-old feelings from when my mom and dad took me to basketball camp at San Marcos for a week when I was about the same age. It was the first time I remember going to a place where I'd have no one I knew with me. 

My mom helped me to be ultra prepared though. Boy is she a packer. Whatever was on the things to bring list? My mom made sure I had it. Hygiene products? Check. Wash cloths, towels and bedding? Check. Snacks? Check. Check. Quarters for the vending machine. Had them. Plenty of clothes? Check. She even got me several new pair of the freshest Hawaiian style knee-length jams Walmart had the offer. 

Still, I remember being a little nervous. 

I'm a little nervous right now. 

After circling through wrong parking lots and going into the wrong building this morning Rylie and I finally found the right place. I could tell we were finally in the right spot because of the kids I saw getting out of a sweet looking Toyota Land Rover. 

At least six tall lanky girls stood in a parking space reminding me of everything I forgot we  probably should have brought to facilitate Volleyball Skills 101 success. These girls had the the right stuff, from high ponytails and cute headbands, to shirts and shorts that actually coordinated, to cinch backpacks that held who knows what. I think their water bottles might have been monogrammed. 

We forgot a water bottle.

 She is wearing deodorant. And clothes (They're  clean). That's about it. 

Inside was more of the same. Girls stood cheerily; their knee pads and confidence apparent. 

Rylie found a spot by the bleachers to stand and take it all in. I shot out of there. 

So here I am battling the mom thoughts. Is she prepared? How long will she stand by herself? Will they let her go to the water fountain? Does she know anything about volleyball? 

I have nothing smart to say. The heat is starting to melt my brain cells. I only know that I'm glad I'm not without recourse when the weird mom feelings take over. It's always good to be prepared, but even when you're not thank goodness there's prayer. 

Note to self: She'll be fine. Just bring a water bottle when you come back at noon. 

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There are two different routes I take to school in the morning. The straight route is thirtieth street.  Thirty-first street, as you can guess, is one block over. I take thirty-first street if I'm headed to school between 7:50-7:55 A.M. The intersection at Helena and thirtieth street is swarming for that five minutes with cars who've just dropped of their elementary kiddies. 


Helena Ave. is buzzing in both directions.  There are the people turning off of W Chicago Ave onto Helena. Then there's the crosswalk. As soon as you pull onto thirtieth you're watching for cars from three directions and looking out for kids crossing the street on foot and bike. 

Thirty first street is a bit simpler. I avoid the madness; instead choosing a better path. I'm not just talking about in the car. 

Sometimes I avoid the news. 

I avoid HEB on Saturday

the mall in December 


dealing with the socks in the mismatch basket

and dusting 

These things are not bad for my health (except for HEB on Saturday). They just raise my stress level. So I run from them when I can. 

What is it famed heavyweight boxing champion Joe Lewis said?

You can run but you can't hide. 

I'm here to tell  you can run AND you can hide. You can...and you should. 

When it comes to avoiding  things, I'm a ninja level "hider". 

Hiding from people is a different story. I kind of have guilt about that. 

However, there are a few scenarios where hiding (avoiding the world) is not only ok, but is beneficial to you and the people in your life. 

  • When you're running on empty. We often go until we're running on fumes. Our work suffers. Our health can suffer. We need a fill up. Hiding is rest. Rest refuels us. 

... I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

Isaiah 41:10

  • When your attitude is out of order. Sometimes our nice meter runs out. Our patience is gone. If we don't retreat, we run the risk of behaving regretfully. Hiding time is "Get your act back in order" time. Consider it a needful time-out. 

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 James 4:10

  • When your interaction with another is unhealthy (their attitude is out of order) There are times when communication has become unproductive despite our efforts to be helpful, reasonable and calm. Recognize when stepping back for a time is necessary for the health of the relationship. 

You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. 

Psalm 31:20

  • When you're not spending enough time with God  We can be conscious of God's presence as we go about our day, uttering prayer in our busyness. But the world, and the best of those in it, distract us from intimate time with God. God is worthy of our undivided attention. Daily. 

Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

Luke 5:16

Avoid the busy road when necessary. Flee from trouble. Hide a while. Leave the beaten path. 

You can run and you can hide. Hide in Him. Your life, and the lives of those you love will be better for it. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, Psalm 103:2-4

I've written the first paragraphs of about ten posts over the past few days. Each of them I quickly deleted. None were pretty. I sounded too anxious, too cranky, too attention-seeking even though I sought to come up with an ending dripping with satisfaction. I attempted to write a fairytale post about a bad situation with a happy ending where God comes in and swoops up the girl in the dungeon and she rides away happily with him on his white horse. 

But I have a hard time lying. There was God this weekend and there was swooping in, but there remained a girl who chose to refuse the white horse but instead chose a hard plastic chair in a freezing cold hospital. I've been irrational for three days (well really it's a chronic problem, but let's just say I've suffered an irrational flare). And even though typing hopeful words, my underlying disposition has been nothing worth boasting about. 

I don't want to spend too many words explaining the reason for my fickle feelings (because I'll reveal how irrational I am again), so I'll try to explain briefly. 

Our daughter Rylie was in the hospital for three days. She just got home yesterday. After years of chronic stomach troubles I was ready to get some answers. I had taken her to the doctor's office thinking they were going to say she had the flu or a bladder infection due to her stomach pain, high fever and lethargy, but they sent us straight to the ER saying she was really sick. They did tests (which all came back negative) and gave her fluids, but as Friday came and then Saturday, I wasn't feeling any better even though the color returned to her cheeks. 

She felt good enough to create fun with her remote control bed by Saturday, while I was still anxious quite like I was downstairs in the dark ER room. In spite of good news, I was moping. I didn't like the fact that we weren't getting answers. Or maybe, it was that I didn't like that the answer was, that some things are yet to be seen. 

I'm guilty of writing each of my life chapters as if I'm the author, controlling not only my life, but the characters around me. This chapter, in my mind, was one where the doctor said,

 "Oh, I see now, there's an obstruction in her stomach that's been there for years.  If we do this "laser thing", it will zap it out and this severe diarrhea will stop.  Not only that, but she won't ask to go to the nurses office every other day at school. Those gray circles that pop up under her eyes will be gone for good. She won't need that medicine she's been taking. You can quit that killjoy diet that the other doctor has her on that makes grocery shopping a living nightmare. And you can stop grilling her about whether or not she's faking it when she tells you her stomach hurts, because I'm telling you, it's not going to hurt anymore."

In my life chapters (not just this weekend's chapter) I'm also the princess in peril with a lovely disposition like Snow White or like our faithful biblical sweethearts Ruth and Esther. 

They're beautiful in bad times. Hopeful. Warlike, but in the most gracious manner. 

I, however, many times am not. 

To add to my previously mentioned qualities, I get cross, and hopeless, blocking out the Sun's rays with my dark superpowers of worry and discontentment. I know how to meditate on scripture and how to smile, while my insides are quivering in rebellion to not having my way. 

These feelings are followed by a strong disappointment in myself from being so far removed from the person I want to be. 

I seldom share my bad side with you without the turn around. The side of me I share is one who has come to my senses after a bad moment or a rough day...when I've fixed myself. But even then, my sinfulness lies dormant within my fickle heart, ready to rear its ugly head at any given moment. 

Truth is, I'm only comfortable with sharing the edited version of ugly me; like those Instagram photos that start out blemished and then I add filter and significant brightness. 

This version of myself makes me seem righteous or like I'm the victor; like ugly creeps in and I dispel it. 

I'm a work in progress, I share, but I forget to be honest at how much help I need with the work. I need to hear the words spoken to Jeremiah. 

I need to share them with you too. Because maybe you find yourself feeling not beautiful because of your emotions that often overwhelm the truth. 

“Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do." ...Jeremiah 18:2-4

I'm without my Sunday shoes and makeup today. My feet are bare and so is my heart. I'm a mess. I'm avoiding the mirror today. 

The eyes of this beholder are often blind to beauty. 

The beauty, I'm learning, is in what God is making each of us to be. 

Beauty is in the eye of the molder. 

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The Science of Sea Glass and Art of Life

by Jennifer Brown
Since I was a child I have regarded stained glass, especially with the Sun’s light gleaming through, a beautiful sight to behold. Adding color to everyday common glass and arranging the pieces in a way that symbolizes a story has always intrigued me. It is said that a picture speaks a thousand words.

A few years ago I became interested in creating mosaics … and discovered sea glass.

Worn by years in the salty waves and surf, sea glass is nature’s way of recycling man’s garbage, transforming discarded trash into a lovely beach gem that is used to make jewelry and art. A chemical reaction occurs between the glass and the salty water that changes the once clear fragment into a pitted, frosted appearance. The constant tumbling in the surf rounds the sharp, jagged edges. ‘Sea glass’ can be manufactured through a process within an hour or two and sold for quite a reasonable price at arts and craft stores, but does not have the authentic texture of true sea glass.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

I reflect on how much we are like a piece of sea glass. We are broken through the trials of life, choices, and relationships. God’s word, the example of Christ, and the Holy Spirit are like the salty water and time renovating our brokenness into something authentically beautiful and valuable. Not valuable in a worldly sense, but for our Father’s kingdom.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Garbage cannot be changed into authentic sea glass without being in the proper environment. Unlike a piece of glass, we have the ability to choose who and what we surround ourselves with. We are gifted with the choice to pray for God’s guidance, wisdom, strength, and grace. Seeking His word and praying for His perfect will and plan for our life will lead us where we are meant to be.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Finding sea glass on the beach is not necessarily simple. You might accidentally happen upon a piece without looking. However, if you are intentional about what you search for, you’ll be surprised how many gems you can collect in an afternoon.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

About Jennifer Brown


My friendship with Jennifer dates back to last century. She was my study buddy for all of our Biology classes in college. Not only is she one smart cookie, she can make a mean casserole. Two of the very first dishes I ever learned to cook were her recipes. She's a spirited teacher (lucky kids), a devoted wife and mother of two beautiful girls (lucky Doug and lucky girls) and she's a treasured friend (lucky me). Did I forget to mention that she loves Jesus? That's the most important part.  She's one of the warmest people you could ever meet. So be glad that you've now met. 

If you're interested in writing a guest post for "A Thursday for Your Thoughts" on God's Girlies send me an email. Tell us a story, lend us your thoughts, share a brilliant idea or a simple recipe. Or you can send me an email just to chat. Caring means sharing. 


In my praying, I don't ask God for all the things I'd like to ask him for. I know He'll say no to some things. I already ask for too much. Some things I'd ask for are selfish. Other things I've asked for a hundred times and I suppose He's tired of my begging.  My mom tells that she was taught as a child to never ask for things when visiting a house. "I couldn't even ask for a drink of water," she says. Funny thing is, my mom raised us the same.  I remember Ms Lola, a sweet elderly lady whose house we would visit when I was small.  She had a candy dish in plain sight on her coffee table. I always hoped that she'd offer me a butterscotch, but I sure never asked. 

I've impressed the same manners upon my kids too. I never though, expected those same manners from the kids who came to visit our house. 
The first church Jason pastored was in Chilton, Texas. We lived in a parsonage. Much to my delight, our house became the local hangout for the kids in town. By our second year in Chilton, I was teaching second grade. The kids from school would be waiting for me in our backyard when I got home. They were usually hungry.
One four year old, Santos who didn't know a lick of English, would come in and open my fridge and would scan for sweets.  (Santos didn't know how to knock either but that's beside the point). I taught Santos, amongst many things, how to say "I'm hungry.  Can I have a snack?"  He quickly forgot my suggested request, but would come to me, and with both hands pat his belly, and would say quite forcibly "Pasteles!" (which means 'sweets' in Spanish).
 I've never forgotten that kid. He knew what he wanted.  My kids know what they want, but like my mom and her mom before her we've taught them not to ask supposing it's rude to request anything as a guest. HE ASKED. In fact, I taught him to ask. And while he didn't ask in the format I'd suggested, he asked, knowing that I'd give him good things. 

.....because of your shameless audacity....he will get up and give you what you need Luke 11:8

Have you ever read that? Even though I've read Luke 11 a number of times, I've somehow missed those two words. 
Shameless audacity. 
Boldness without shame. 
It's in the passage in chapter 11 where Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray.  Basically, after confessing the Father as holy, the prayer gets bossy. It says something like,
Give us...
Forgive us...
Lead us not...  Deliver us..
I was reminded this morning that a lot of Bible fellows just cut to the chase and told God exactly what they wanted. 
In prayer we are guests in the presence of God, but more than that, we are His children. 

...See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are. I John 3:1

If you look at chapter 13 of Psalms, it says: Look on me and answer, O LORD. 

No "Pretty please". Not "If you don't mind". The Psalmist was so intimate with God that the pleasantries seemed less important than going right to the heart of the matter. 
Jesus includes his teaching on prayer in Luke 11 with this:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Did I always give Santos everything he asked for? I didn't. I gave him what I thought he needed, no doubt getting it wrong now and then. Our requests are made to a Holy God who knows all that we need. We trust that our Father knows how to give good gifts to His children even when what he gives isn't what we asked for. 

If I unwittingly ask for the approval of men, the answer that I get, may not be the approval of men that I sought. God may remind me that if "I am trying to please man, then I am not a servant of God". 

His answer is good. 

In the past I have asked for patience. I've never once been felt zapped with it.  Instead, God teaches me longsuffering. In His teaching, I feel his closeness. And I know that patience isn't so much a mastering of my feelings as it is a concentrated focus on God's help and presence in times that I wait. 

God's answers are always good. 

So I'll ask for all the things I see fit, for the things I desire. God knows how to say no.  And if he does say no, then I trust that no is the answer I need. The more I learn to go to God with my requests and the desires of my heart, the closer I'll grow to Him, trusting that he'll change my heart about those things I ask which I don't need and those things which aren't beneficial. 

And so very many times He says yes.

The more time we spend with God, asking, and listening, the better we know His will (the answer).

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16



I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:32

I yelled at the kids today. That happens sometimes on three day weekends. It happens when the kids have spent a significant stretch of time together. Interacting for too long typically allows room for personalities to clash. "Passive aggressive, bored sibling" antagonizes "she who wants to be alone and has succumbed to pouting". Then there's the sibling who is already distraught by my cleaning orders who goes into melt-down mode after being annoyed by above said passive aggressive sibling. There's sinister laughter, whining, false accusations and gnashing of teeth (the gnashing of teeth would be me). 

So I yelled. 

We'd just got back from Easterfest where we'd served the hordes Easter eggs  with a smile. I'd handed out a stack of church flyers inviting people to join us tomorrow morning for Easter services. I was inspired by bible verses and smiley faces and rainbows drawn on slab with bright-colored chalk. I posted a picture of such blessedness and I hash-tagged it "Jesus Saves". 

And now my kids were acting like they knew nothing about that. 

More sad, I was acting like I'd forgotten too. I began to tabulate my kids' transgressions along with my own (I'm really good at that). Grappling with the thoughts of "where are we going wrong", I began to feel more wretched.  

I live in the knowledge that there are some who question how I can call myself a Christian when I act unkind, or impatient or selfish(selfish is a big one). This is a question I ask myself too.   

....For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Psalm 51:3

I'll go to church tomorrow though. Not because I think I'm holy. On the contrary, I'll go because I haven't a hint of holiness of my own. Not today. Not on my best day either. 

 I'll go because Holy God saw it fit to call me His own through His work on the cross. I go in gratitude. He's never dissuaded from loving me. He's never shocked by my lack of faith or misbehavior.  He never calls it quits. 

 Nobody can produce new evidence of your depravity that will make God change his mind.  For God justified you with (so to speak) his eyes open.  He knew the worst about you at the time when he accepted you for Jesus' sake; and the verdict which he passed then was, and is, final. (JJ Packer, Knowing God). 

Jesus saves. 

I'll post and share on Facebook that which is Jesus-related. Not because I emulate Christ rather well.  But because Jesus is who I aspire to be more like. We ALL need to be more like Jesus. 

I'll wear my "Forgiven" bracelet 

-sometimes forgetting I'm covered in his grace 

-sometimes erring so, that grace seems in vain. 


Jesus saves. 

I'll hashtag #jesussaves and #christlivesinme even though I act rather hopeless  sometimes and I sink into despair for the smallest of reasons. Because he does.

Jesus saves. 

I'll cast aside the heaviness in my heart that has weighed me down this week as I've hurt alongside those with those deep hurts. I'll leave the hard questions without answers. Because I know one thing that matters above all things. 

Jesus saves. 

  1. Sing above the battle strife:
  1. Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
  1. By His death and endless life
  1. Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
  1. Shout it brightly through the gloom,
  1. When the heart for mercy craves;
  1. Sing in triumph o’er the tomb:
  1. Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

His grace is greater than my sin. So I'll sing brightly, shout triumphantly. 

Jesus saves. Jesus saves. 



She gave me the once over and then looked straight at me. "You really like to wear those comfy shirts don't you?.......... You wear them all the time."  The words of a third grade choir member rang in my head as I decided what to wear to a doctor's appointment this past Thursday.

"Wear something,....anything besides one of those shirts," I said to myself.

Her observation was keen.

I knew distinctly which shirts she was talking about. I have three of them. I bought them from Target. They're long and soft and comfortable. I originally bought one in black and a heather color, but was overjoyed when I saw that the same comfortable shirt came in white with black stripes.

"And I know," she said. They all have a zipper in the back."

She was right. About all of it. The zipper. The fact that they're comfy. And the fact that I wear them all of the time.

 I like to be comfortable.

I like to wear blue jeans and flip flops.....and comfortable shirts. Plain is pretty to me.

I drink a Dr Pepper and have a Dark Chocolate Chunk Granola Bar.  Every. Single. Morning. I'm all about making life predictable.

I like the fact that four out of the five in our family have phones. We can stay in touch. We even have the stalker apps on three of them. If I hear an ambulance and can't reach Hayden (to make sure he's ok), I can find his geographic location at the touch of a button. Because I like to know we're safe. 

I go crazy when part of us have to travel, forcing our family be split between different counties. I'm anxious when one of my children or even Jason doesn't share my feelings on controversial issues. I like tight boundaries. And I like to be the one who draws the lines. 

But I've been called out. Maybe I'm calling you out too.

As one who's been given the once over, I've been reminded that life isn't always supposed to be comfortable.

Comfortable doesn't produce growth.

And testimonies aren't made in safe bounds.

Following Christ will at times lead us to experience the opposite of comfort.

Whether our discomfort is minor or comes in the form of deep suffering , we do best to remember these things:

Comfort isn't always ours to keep. 

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12

Purpose comes through suffering. 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1Peter 5:10

Our discomfort may bring comfort to another. 

Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice......Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.....Be devoted to one another in love....Never be lacking in spiritual fervor......Share with the Lord's people who are in need.....Mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12

As believers our suffering is temporary. The future holds something better. 

.......what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. Romans 8:18

Removed comfort is a reminder to look to Jesus and is opportunity to grow in our faith.  

...... everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 

 We don't suffer alone. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

Our default is set to choose comfort. Comfort isn't always ours. Choosing to trust God outside those bounds brings things far greater. It has been in times of greatest suffering that God's goodness overwhelms me. 



Camping in the summer with Meme and Grandad was a big part of my childhood. They'd take me and my older brother and sister David and Vicki and my cousins Shawn and Angela to places as far as Colorado. It seemed rational to me at the time, but looking back it seems pretty phenomenal. I was the youngest and still had my baby teeth on these trips. My brother was the oldest; a preteen. How did five squirmy kids and two adults fit in a small camper trailer? We made cookies and Kool-aid and my grandparents helped us do our own devotions at our campsite. A couple of times we invited the neighbors. Those trips are sweet in my memory. 

I've had four adult camping trips that were also memorable, though not for the same reasons.

The first was with Jason and I along with my mom and dad's Russian exchange student, Taya (she's kind of like my sister).  It started out beautiful with us camped outside on a hill with a storm rolling in. We were able to watch a show of lightning miles away. That was the last of the night's beauty. I woke up to Jason beating wildly about his legs. He said something had crawled on him and had hit at it until he couldn't feel crawling anymore. He abruptly went back to sleep. I did not. The next morning we found an expired tarantula curled up beside his sleeping bag. There's a picture of it somewhere. Curled up, that monster was still the size of Jason's hand. I kid you not.

That should have been enough, but we took our youth group camping too. Jason lost some arm hair on that trip showing the kids that flour is combustible using the campfire he'd made. Singed hair smells bad.

We took another camping trip years later with my sister and her family. We'd found a great place in central Texas that was historically connected to Quannah Parker. That camping excursion only lasted hours; enough time to get our tents up only to be swallowed up by a torrential storm. The storm was short-lived but the anger of an army of ants thereafter was not. They thought to overtake us, but we surrendered and went back home.

Dinosaur Park in Glen Rose was the last camping trip we've taken. I was eight and a half months pregnant with Rylie when we camped at Dinosaur Park. We had a trailer, but for some reason our suitcases and ice chests and such were in the back of our truck. The rain once again met us there. Our camping started out with our furiously transferring suitcases and lawn chairs into the trailer. I spent the first night with contractions. That was an uncomfortable trip.

Camping is a time when stories are told, maybe around a fire or in our case,  a dry spot out of the rain. Camping is also a place where stories are made. But truthfully most camping trips aren't without their miseries. Camping trips usually include mosquitoes and cramped living quarters; uncomfortable temperatures and at some point complaining.

Yesterday we attended The Tabernacle Experience at our church. Check my Facebook for a short interview Jason did about it. The tour was powerful and moving. I couldn't begin to share with you what the experience was like but thoughts have been rolling around in my head since our going.

The tour takes you back to when the Israelites were camped out in the desert after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Our church has on loan, a replica of the tabernacle that the people of Israel carried around with them which they would set up in their camp. Appropriately, our experience in the tabernacle camp yesterday wasn't without rain. The weather was slightly miserable. I thought about the people of Israel and what we read in scripture about their attitudes much of the time they wandered.


In the desert the whole community grumbled...  (v. 2)
"If only we had died at the LORD'S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!" Exodus 16:3

I remembered a phrase used in the leaflet given to us prior to the tour yesterday.

Tabernacle means "dwelling".  The idea behind it was that God would have His own tent among their tents.

As I stood on soggy ground yesterday I was struck with a stronger than before realization that Holy God pitched his tent amongst theirs. And as imperfect as I am, He has made his dwelling in me; sinful, grumbling me.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.  And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:11

To think that he dwells in a heart like mine....

If you get a chance to head to First Baptist in Nederland by the fifteenth, this coming Sunday, go. It's quite the experience.

And Meme and Grandad, if you get a chance to read this, know that I better appreciate the effort and love it took to go camping with a bunch of kids who wouldn't understand what you were doing for them........until now.

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If I were to ask you if you're a religious person, what would you say?

Really. Stop reading and think about it for a second.

I know my answer six months ago would be different than it was when I was growing up. And it's different today than it was six months ago.

Stained Glass Smaller

It might be my imagination (I have a strong one), but it seems that religion has become (world-wise) little more than a bad word. Even in Christian circles, an overly religious person is often equated with a zealot, a Pharisee. Can you truly be overly-religious?

Religion is more commonly being seen as "the act of being a belief nut". Religious folks are said to be fanatical; singly focused on righteous acts. The religion of Christianity has recently been compared (many times I might add) to Muslim extremists.

Scrolling through my Facebook this past week has confirmed my belief that religion is widely becoming tabu.  Even Christians are aligning themselves with this frame of mind. Here are some popular thoughts.

You don't need religion to have morals.  If you determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.-Anonymous

My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness. -Dalai Lama

Jesus is my Savior, not my religion -Unknown

Religion is the cause of all the problems in the world.  It's what separates people.  -Gwyneth Paltrow.

I have to admit six months ago had I been asked whether or not I am a religious person, I would have hesitated before answering, especially if the question had asked for a simple yes or no answer.


By answering yes, I feel that an astoundingly increasing number of people would mark me as a tyrant; an unloving and intolerant.    A "yes" answering person is often viewed as one who goes about (can I say) Heaven-bent on doing the right things so that they might think they're dandy and God might think they're dandy along with the less-than-righteous rest of the world. Religion has been redefined as the act of acting.

That kind of religion exists. It's called empty religion and it's widely practiced. I'm guilty of it. I'm sure we all are.

But true religion? That exists too.

…..pure and genuine religion

Religion, in its rightful practice, is the belief in, and worship of God.

It's about our relationship with a loving father who we know always "gets it right". We know we're not dandy people, but rather fallen ones in need. We believe this to be true. Out of that belief, we worship. Part of that worship is our obedience to Him; our attempt to do what He says we should do.

Here's the other thing that bugs me. It's almost as if we've tried to make Jesus the very opposite of religious. Jesus did get all over the religious leaders (We like to use that), but not because they were living worshipfully by faith. They were interested in puffing up themselves instead of God. They were self-righteous. We find their example detestable. I'm glad we do. Their story is a great reminder not to fall into that trap we find ourselves tip-toeing around and sometimes caught in.

Was Jesus religious?

He trusted His Father.

His life was one of constant worship.

I'd say He was.

He participated in Jewish traditional feasts and the Passover. He knew the scripture.

He told us "Don't think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Matthew 5:17

These things He did,.... these things we do.... are/should be more than mere acts. With the right heart these practices are part of worship. These things are part of our religion.

Are our religious actions always practiced with a proper heart, in the right frame of mind? Certainly not. But that shouldn't mean that we shy away from organized religion, the public sharing of our faith and all appearance of religion.

We just have to ask continually ask our self these questions.

Is my religion pure and genuine?

Is the world corrupting our view of what is right and good by trying to convince us that religion isn't what Jesus wants?

We have been told to watch out for such things-

Keep oneself from being polluted by the world

Is my religion all about Jesus?

Should it be about anything else?

If I find times that it's not, should I give up trying to make my religion all about Him?

I count myself as one who strives to be religious. I want my life (be it popular or the modern crime) to be a life led by faith and heart-felt worship. I'll mess up a million times; more the reason to trust in the One who died for my Sin…..

more the reason to sing, and pray and tell the world.

That's my religion.