the tough stuff that made me

IMG_4432If you caught my last post, you’ll know I was a mash-up of competing football loyalties this weekend. Let’s just say 3 out of 4 wins ain’t bad, and one contest pitted two of my favs against each other for an upset that has the whole SEC wondering what’s next.

All I’ve got to say about the hunt for a champ is “Roll Dawg Eagle” and may the best team win.

As for what I’m thanking God for this week? Years ago I would have labeled them life lessons and tried to be eloquently vague about them. Really, though, the best description is “Tough stuff that made me cry or rage at the time but changed me for the better.” I’m grateful for those changes because the woman being made through them is hands-down my favorite me. Continue reading “the tough stuff that made me”

the places that made me

This week I’m thanking God for the places that made me. I am a Southern girl through and through, but I admit that the Deep South is a complicated place to be from. For all our churches, hospitality, and genteel manners, we can’t deny a legacy of racism, classicism, illiteracy, and poverty. Turns out, though, we’re not the only place on the globe where humans hurt each other or just plain hurt. So I’ll keep being thankful that I’m a Southern girl, and I’ll keep pushing to change the things that need changing where I’m from and beyond.

So where exactly AM I from? I’m thankful to call four Southern states home–or perhaps I should say Southeastern Conference states. When I say I’m from the South, I mean all over it. And yes, I did just make reference to that hallowed football conference, the one that churns out the best games of the season every year.

img_5724 Continue reading “the places that made me”

the people who made me

the people who made me

Happy All Saints Day! Though my church tradition doesn’t specifically celebrate the day, I tend to pause a bit on Nov 1st to think about the people who came before me.

I’m indebted to my mom for making this day resonate with me. Several years ago, she did an All Saints writing project with her junior high students to explore their family trees. Her students thought and wrote about those who had impacted their lives, and they were able to move toward gratitude for those people.

Her point was that the people who came before us (whether they are from our family of origin or are simply people who have impacted us) contribute to who we are. Whether those people looked more like “saints” or not, we can find things to celebrate about our connection with the people of the past.

I am starting this month of Thanksgiving, then, with a moment of thankfulness for all the people who made me: godly parents and grandparents, neighbors and friends who were like parents and grandparents, English teachers who taught me to love writing, mentors who taught me to love the person I was becoming, Bible teachers who didn’t just preach me a list of do’s and don’ts, bosses who gave me career opportunities, and a multitude of friends who’ve brightened my life.

I am profoundly grateful.

One secret when the path is uncertain

One secret when the path is uncertain

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between two faith-giants who spoke of obstacles on the path to fulfilling their purposes. The first is David. Pulled from the sheep field, anointed by God as king, and then forced to run for his life for years until he ascended the throne, David poured out his ups and downs through the Psalms. I’ve found strength and comfort in these songs of the faith and continue to work them into my prayer life just as the women and men of the Bible did. One passage that’s been particularly galvanizing for me as I’ve faced things like chronic anxiety, depression, or fibromyalgia pain is Psalm 142, especially verse 7:

Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.

Continue reading “One secret when the path is uncertain”

3 truths teens need to hear 

3 truths teens need to hear 

If you were asked to fill in the blank, “Sometimes, I feel like I’m not ___________ enough,” what would you say?

What would your 15-year-old say?

A few weeks ago, I asked 50 or so high school women just that. Here’s some of what they told me:

Sometimes, I feel like I’m not

Pretty

Smart

Strong

Popular

Involved

Interesting

Fun

Friendly

In-shape

Normal

Good

Worth

enough.

They also talked of how they struggle to have enough time, energy, confidence, and friends to make it through their days.

Continue reading “3 truths teens need to hear “

how my “life verse” got fresh legs: dream team, part ii

how my “life verse” got fresh legs: dream team, part ii

Welcome back! This month we’re zeroing in on passages from Philippians and praising God for the “dream teams” He puts together.  Spurred by Paul’s words, I thank my God every time I remember you, we’ve reflected on the fellow faith-warriors, encouragers, I’ve-got-your-back kind of people who, when monsters loom large, remind us God has a larger dream and bolder plan at work.

This week as I’ve jotted more notes, I have a silly confession: I actually do not know how to spell “Philippians.” I habitually use two L’s and one P or spell it like the Philippine islands. Even if I manage to spell it correctly, I doubt myself every time. My recourse is to rely on Spellcheck or simply abbreviate “Phil” and let the chips fall where they may. I chuckle that it irks me so much (yes, that recovering perfectionist in me still rears her head on occasion), but really, it should stick by now.

That’s because Phillipians-Philippines-Phil has been my favorite New Testament book since I was a 12-year-old at Maranook summer camp hearing it preached with fervor and learning to study the Bible for herself. You’d think I’d simply know.

One thing I do know, however, is the memory verse I learned that week at camp:

For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:6 NASB

Except I can do more than say it: I can still sing the camp song version complete with handclaps and thrilling shouts of ¡Arriba! (I’ll give you a taste of my impressive rendition at the end of this post.) Continue reading “how my “life verse” got fresh legs: dream team, part ii”

in good times or bad, who’s your dream team?  

in good times or bad, who’s your dream team?  

Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and now, mass violence. Shocked and reeling, we cry and pray, but truthfully, we also doubt and rage. Once again, we’re united with all others in the suffering that goes on throughout the world and has been since the first murder of an innocent person (Abel) by his enraged brother (Cain).

A few weeks ago, in the midst of Houston’s great flood I commented on the soul-level impact of tragedy even when we are on the outskirts. I think it bears repeating:

I discovered I was almost afraid to take significant time out to read my Bible and write in my journal. Maybe I was hiding from my conflicted feelings, not ready to bring my doubts and fears before God. I’m not exactly sure. Probably I was just completely overwhelmed like everyone else. Whatever the reason, that fear of taking time out to read, reflect, pray, and worship was something that needed to be addressed. That was the need of the day. I found Christ still there waiting for me and more than willing to restore my soul.

Psalm 116:7 would call this returning to the soul’s resting place. We draw close to Jesus and let His presence become bigger than our need to have all the answers. As we do so, we also find ourselves able to lift our heads and look for others. Yes, for those we can help in tangible, practical ways, but also for those who comprise our dream teams.

Continue reading “in good times or bad, who’s your dream team?  “