Monday, May 16, 2016


I have a love, hate, love relationship with running. I don't like to overuse the word love but this really is something I feel strongly about. I can remember starting to run for my personal sanity when we lived in Carrollton, Texas, and I was the mom of 3 little kids, I was the director of a Mother's Day Out program, my husband was a full-time senior pastor, he had another part-time job, and he was working on his doctorate. As an introvert, I enjoy the solitude of running and God has seriously spoken to me as close to an audible voice as I may ever get while I have been running.

Then I decided to run a half marathon. Running became a chore. I had to run miles and miles and miles. And then some more miles. After race day I had a hard time running for enjoyment again.

Until recently. One of my friends started running for maybe the first time. She inspired me so I laced up my shoes and headed back out there. The only thing is, I really couldn't run very far at all. It was hard and I was slow and was doing way more walking than actually running. And my running shoes were old. They had holes in them. But, I kept at it and finally started seeing some progress.

And, I got some new running shoes:

I've been keeping track of my times for a few days now. Today I took 34 seconds off my time from last week.

The thing is, I'm still not that fast. And I'm still not going that far. Compared to my brother (who runs in 100 mile ultra-marathons) or my daughter-in-law (who runs marathons), I'm not going very far at all. And I'm not going to be winning any races with my current times. But I'm out there, pounding the pavement, putting one foot in front of the other.

I'm learning more about running my own race lately. Why in the stinking world do we, as women or even as people, compare ourselves to others? To what people have, to what people do, to what's going on in other people's lives? Maybe you haven't done that. Unfortunately, I have. Or this one: living to other people's expectations or even your own self-imposed thoughts of what other people expect? It can be exhausting.

Look, I'm not leaving out living up to God's expectations. His are good and perfect. Or even lessening the importance of community and the encouragement and accountability that comes with that. I'm so thankful for my community and how they have spurred me on in recent days.

I'm talking about the unhealthy comparisons and expectations. Leave them behind. Race your own time.

One of my all-time favorite passages is from Hebrews 12:1-2 -- "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

It's very possible that I might not run faster tomorrow than I did today. I might add some of those 34 seconds I took off back to my time. But, it's going to be my race. And there's always the next day to run faster, to be stronger. I just have to remember whose race I'm running.

Racing my own time,


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hezekiah's War Room

I'm reading through the book of Isaiah and it is, for me, both an encouragement and challenge. Parts of it have stuck with me for days. I've written verses on index cards so I could look at them and ponder them over and over again. It's like it's a message just for me - something that I needed to read, to hear God speak into my soul.

Then there's those times when what I am reading in Scripture intersects with other messages I'm hearing from other sources: a sermon, a Bible study, or even, in this case, a movie. Johnny and I recently went to see the movie "War Room." (**spoiler alert**) It's a movie about prayer where the main character is challenged by an older woman to take seriously - to pray earnestly - about her marriage. The woman is instructed to go to battle for her family by writing her prayers and set aside a place of prayer to verbalize those prayers to the One who is able to do the miraculous. Even if you haven't seen the movie, surely you've seen the trailers with pieces of paper and sticky notes attached to the wall.

Sometimes life is just like that - we feel like we're in a battle. We actually are according to the apostle Paul. Why would we need armor if we weren't in a battle? (see Ephesians 6:10-17) Paul writes that our battle is not against flesh and blood - even though it certainly seems like it at times - but it's a spiritual battle. After we've put on the armor of God we are instructed to pray. (Ephesians 6:18)

Starting in chapter 36 of Isaiah, Judah is threatened by a real-life, flesh and blood enemy, the Assyrians. The Jews were mocked and ridiculed. By outward appearances, the Assyrian army was more powerful than the one protecting Jerusalem. When King Hezekiah got the message from the Assyrians about their treaty offer and the consequences of refusing it, he took the threat seriously. He took the letter and went to the house of the Lord and spread it out there. (Isaiah 37:14) He then prayed - his prayer is recorded in just 5 verses (verses 16-20). He spoke words of truth about the character and nature of God. He spoke about his situation and the threat against Jerusalem. He asked for deliverance SO THAT people would know that the Lord alone is God.

Isaiah, the prophet, the spokesman for God, sent a message to Hezekiah that because he prayed, Jerusalem would be saved from the Assyrians.

I've been guilty plenty of times of taking my prayer life too lightly. I've been guilty of making my prayers all about me or the things on my list. I've been guilty of not taking the holiness of God seriously. I've been guilty of making God small in my own estimation by the way I've prayed or failed to pray.

Then those things come up that remind me about the battle. The enemy is threatening. I'm reminded to go to the war room. For Hezekiah, the war room was the house of the Lord. For the Jews, the temple represented the presence of God. For the follower of Jesus, we are ushered in, brought into the presence of God by the Holy Spirit. I don't want to take that lightly. My prayer place is where I go so that I'm not distracted, so I take seriously the enemy, so I recognize the power of the only One who is able to do the miraculous.

I write my prayers out and present them before the Lord because I need to. I need to recognize the challenge so I know how to pray. I write Scripture because I want to recite God's powerful Word back to Him as a promise for my own life. I write my prayers out so I can rejoice and offer praise and thanksgiving in the answering.

A movie and a text of Scripture intersected with my life and where I am right at this moment. If the message is for me then I get it. And I move forward from this moment with my battle plan, headed to my own war room.

Serving the King,


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Paradise Comes in Many Forms

I was on my almost daily walk with my dog at the park when I passed a couple walking 3 dogs. We said the usual greetings. You know, "Hi, how's it going/how ya doing?" The guy's response to my greeting has stuck with me for a few days. He said, "Paradise comes in many forms."

I just looked up the word paradise on and the first definition has to do with the afterlife but definition #2 is this, "a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight." I then had to look up the word felicity because it's not in my everyday vocabulary. It means "quality of state of being happy."

Some days I have to choose to see my current situation or place as paradise. Maybe it doesn't always involve felicity but certainly should involve thankfulness. Honestly, when I see my life in light of some of the really horrible things going on in the world this is paradise. God has given me more than I deserve and, in many instances, more than I've asked or imagined.

Those days that are heavy, though, the choice is harder to make. Those days when you get a phone call that is like a kick in the gut. Those days when you have to give up something because you realize you've made it an idol but it's not without heartbreak. Those days when you miss someone you love so much it hurts. Those days when you realize you've said hurtful words and you wish you could just take it back. Oh, forgiveness is there but so is the sting. Those days when you face uncertainty but you just want to know the answer.

Yesterday, as I contemplated paradise, I flipped my Bible open and it fell to Daniel 9. Starting in verse 4, this chapter records Daniel's prayer of confession. Verse 3 is this, "So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes." It's not the first time we see Daniel praying in this book that bears his name. Even with a threat to his life if he continued to do so, Daniel got on his knees three times a day to pray and give thanks. (see Daniel 6:10)

Perhaps the key to paradise is prayer, giving thanks, being submissive to the Lord God despite personal desire. Maybe paradise doesn't always involve happiness but it does include peace, joy, and assurance.  At least that's the definition I'm writing as it applies to my life today.

Serving the King,


Thursday, May 14, 2015

On My 25th Mother's Day I Realized I'm a Failure As A Mother

That's right, a complete failure. I came to that realization standing in a coffee shop in Alabama with my daughter, Jessica. I mentioned that I'd like to go to Gulf Shores someday. Jessica replied, "Mom, no one in our family likes the beach except you. Even Christy." Christy, by the way, is my daughter-in-law and I adore her but even she is against me when it comes to the beach. How did I raise 3 kids and not guide any one of them to common interest of white, sandy beaches; beautiful, clear, salty water; and bright sunshine? Failure.

Later that evening, Jessica and I went to Brook Hills Church. Since they are without a senior pastor right now, the worship pastor preached. It was a Mother's Day sermon from Proverbs 31. Not the Proverbs 31, virtuous woman passage that one might have expected but it was from the 1st 9 verses of the chapter. Really, go read those 9 verses. It's a mother's desperate cries for her child. The 3 main points of the pastor's sermon applied to mothers and, really, to anyone who is discipling other believers.

Johnny and I tried to do those 3 things all the while we were raising our children. Some days (lots of days) parenting was really hard. I know we made mistakes. Probably lots of them.  Somehow, in God's grace and economy, we came through it. Toward the end of the sermon, the pastor said something to the effect of, "sow the seed and trust God for the results." We sowed some seed, we plowed some fields, and now we are reaping some pretty great benefits.

I loved the days I spent over Mother's Day weekend with Jess. I got to see her in her new environment and the life she is building in Alabama. I'm so proud of her and the responsibilities she has undertaken with her new job. I love how Josh is pursuing ministry and having lunch with him every Thursday is our routine. With one of my offspring already living in another state, I don't take weekly lunches for granted at all. I love the conversations I have with Jacob about politics (even when we don't agree) and history and music and food. I love how he is so loyal and kind-hearted. It's seriously grace and God's goodness toward me and Johnny that we are a part of lives of these three.

A couple of days later I was on my flight back to DFW with my earbuds in and playlist on shuffle. It never fails that Taylor Swift's "The Best Day" comes on when I'm thinking about my kids. Thankfully the seat next to me was empty so no one was there to see the tears fall down my face. Such good days have passed. I miss them terribly at times. The sadness for what is past is replaced with pride at the excellent adults these people that I gave birth to have become. I'm not proud because of anything I've done unless it's pray like crazy. God did the work.

I'll never stop being thankful for it.

Serving the King,


Monday, December 8, 2014

Missions and Music

The tradition of our church is to have a mission emphasis on the 1st Sunday of December. We've done all sorts of programs including having a mission banquet for several years. This year we combined our mission day with our music ministry and, in my very biased opinion, had an awesome worship experience last night with the adult choir, children's choirs and band leading us all to contemplate the true meaning of Christmas and, really, the reason we have a mission emphasis to being with. It's all about Jesus and the desire of seeing the nations worship Him.

Yesterday morning we had a couple of IMB missionaries sharing in our morning worship. As Tom pointed to a manger he remarked that there are millions and millions of people on the planet that would see that and have no idea what it represents. To the follower of Jesus, it represents the birth of hope for an abundant and everlasting life, the birth of our Savior. I don't even know if Tom would remember this (I should've asked him) but the first time I met him was in London. He asked what role I had in missions. I obviously am not on our church staff but am a pastor's wife who, remarkably, has the privilege of facilitating global missions. Tom said that I was a "mission enthusiast." I liked that and it stuck.

I was reminded last night why Johnny and I so want our church to go overseas on mission. Joe said it and Johnny said it. So many people are called to full-time, vocational missions after going on a short-term mission trip. In addition, Scott said it in his video, even if God is not calling you to vocational missions, it can change how you live. We are all called to be the light in a dark world. Johnny read Isaiah 49:6 last night. Service is not enough, God has called us to be a light to the nations so that His salvation may reach to the end of the earth. 

I woke up this morning to find a newsletter from a missionary family in my email inbox. A couple that Johnny and I know from so many years ago. They packed up their kids and moved to Asia just a few months ago. They wrote of seeing the monks in the morning in the streets gathering alms and giving blessings. The wrote about the burden of knowing most of the people they see having only enough knowledge of God to damn them. The people they see mostly know nothing of His provision of redemption, the covering of sin and shame offered them through the cross of Christ. They long to be able to tell all the people they come in contact with about the truth in a way they will understand.

Yesterday was most definitely a beautiful night and an amazing day. I am so appreciative of each person who contributed to our mission fair - to share what God has called them to do so that others might also join in the effort. I am super thankful for the ladies who work in our office and their hard work. Behind the scenes, faithfully making us look good always.

The true test of whether our day accomplished its purpose won't be the amount of social media posts or counting the hours of work that went in to making such a day happen. The true test will be if those that participated and those who attended let their personal worship and realization of the weight of what Jesus has done cause them and compel them to live missionally in 2015. Not for the glory of our church or any person other than Jesus Himself. To Him alone belongs the honor and glory. Service is not enough. Attending is not enough. My prayer is that we will be a light to the nations and a light in our community. Starting right here with me.

Serving the King,


Monday, November 10, 2014


What a weekend. My middle child, my girl, will be graduating from college in one month and 9 days. Ten days after that we will be in Alabama moving her into an apartment. She accepted an offer to do her dream job and will move 3 states away from us. Even though we have known for more than a month that this is what will happen, I can still barely type those sentences without tears welling up in my eyes. Moving requires having a place to live so she and I flew out this weekend to find that place. That the weekend was a bit stressful is an understatement. Yes, Johnny and I have been praying about this very specifically. God provided the job, He will provide the living situation. My head has got that. My heart is that this amazing young woman that I happened to give birth to would have a lovely, safe, affordable place to live that also happens to be in a good location.

Friday was a bust. We saw a few places. She had found a few places online before we went. At more than one of those places I pulled into the parking lot and right back out saying not only no but never. My first priority is safety. One complex that looked perfect that we just happened to drive by, I stopped, she looked up the rent online and said absolutely not. Her first priority is budget. We did find a place on Saturday that we both feel good about. And, we got to eat some really good Alabama barbecue and found a wonderful coffee shop not too far from where she'll live.

We flew back on Sunday and arrived at DFW in the early afternoon. By the time we got home and had lunch I had just a little while before I headed to a 4:00 monthly gathering time with folks involved in our church's Embrace project. These people mean so much to me. Honestly, I'm pretty astounded by how they have all bought in. I am floored by how God used these people and their trips to the UK to seal a commitment to what our church agreed to do with the IMB. Mostly, I'm grateful.

We usually meet for about 2 hours - a time to talk and a time to pray together. I'm an emotional person anyway but, by the time we were done, I was spent. From the weekend. From how overwhelming the Embrace task is. From the desire for the gospel to be known among our people group. When it was over I just wanted to go home and curl up on the couch. Under a blanket. With comfort food. I peeked into the sanctuary where the evening time of corporate worship was starting. My beautiful and talented daughter-in-law was playing the piano and that drew me in. I'm so glad I stayed.

Last night our church celebrated the Lord's Supper. We took communion together. I found one of my friends and sat down beside her and somehow there was a comfort in that. Johnny's main text was 1 Corinthians 11:27, " Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord." He talked about the word unworthy. Part of the what he said about it was how the original readers, and modern believers, can take communion without really examining their lives. "Trading symbolism for substance." We can, at times, say things like, "thank You for Your many blessings" instead of counting them one by one. Or, "forgive me of my sins" instead of naming them, confessing them, turning away from them.

I often feel unworthy. Unworthy to be involved in the mission of God, unworthy to parent such great kids, unworthy of the material things that I have. I want to, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1, "walk in a manner worthy with which (I) have been called." My worthiness comes from Christ alone. My ability to walk worthy depends on leaning on Him and not streamlining or wholesaling my thanks or my confessions. Receiving communion last night, in a room full of people but alone in my thoughts of God, reminded me new and fresh that everything begins with Him. And not me. My natural bent to feel unworthy was paid for on the cross.

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat, this is My body." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." 
Matthew 26:26-28

Serving the King,


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Craving Righteousness

One day I was fasting and here's the voicemail I got from Johnny, "Hey, babe, I'm in line at Fuzzy's Tacos and just wanted to see how your day's going." (or something like that but it definitely included the words Fuzzy's Tacos) One thing that is for certain about me is that I crave Mexican/Tex Mex food. I don't want to say I love it because I love people not food but I'm really crazy about it.

This is what I texted this back to my man, "That's pretty hateful to tell me you're at Fuzzy's when I'm fasting."

Fasting is a spiritual exercise. The whole point of the fast is to focus on God, to seek Him, to lean in. One of the verses I have in my fasting journal is Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." I looked up the word hunger in my Greek Dictionary and this is what was there, "fig., to crave."

My question is this - do I crave righteousness more than tacos? If the answer is yes (and I want it to be yes) then I can't be sad about missing 1 day of eating tacos. Goodness knows I'll be eating tacos before this week is out.

Psalm 63:1, "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You..." Thirsts requires seeking. Seeking requires setting aside other things in order to be satisfied in God.

That doesn't always look the same way for me. Honestly, it rarely involves a fast. I like the discipline of it, though. The physical hunger that is almost like a signal that I need more of something. Oh, that my heart would beat more for craving righteousness, craving Jesus, than any other thing.

Serving the King,