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.

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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.

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 “

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.

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what do i do when friendships end? friendships and houseplants, part 2

what do i do when friendships end? friendships and houseplants, part 2

We’re talking about friendships with my buddy Keri Lee from Free to Fly Ministries again this week. Check out last week’s post where she laments her “black thumbs” when it comes to caring for houseplants but offers Biblical wisdom on caring for our friendships. Such good reminders for me!

This week, though, I asked her, “What about when the relationship ends despite best efforts?” Here are her thoughts and encouragement to get out there and try again.

Continue reading “what do i do when friendships end? friendships and houseplants, part 2”

friendships and houseplants: help! the flowers fell off!

friendships and houseplants: help! the flowers fell off!

Excited for you to meet my friend Keri Lee Robbins this week as she shares a two-part series on tending our “friendship plants” with wisdom from God’s word. Keri  Lee and I met a few years ago through Twitter as we were traveling to attend the same conference. My Las Vegas buddy is a gentle yet passionate advocate for foster care and adoption as well as for those with disabilities. So glad to call her my friend. Enjoy!

I do not have a green thumb at all. It’s quite black. Like midnight black. Generally speaking, giving me a plant is sentencing it to death. It’s a sad reality that I have come to accept. The people I love know that I do enjoy flowers though, so recently I was given 2 flowering plants.

On Mother’s Day, my Mom gave me an orchid. An orchid. One of the hardest plants to keep alive in the history of plants. It had five very pretty little flowers on it. I was immediately enamored and terrified. Then, my sweet friend Cindy brought me a flowering succulent with lovely coral flowers.

Both plants came with little cards detailing how to care for them, and I studied them cautiously. They only needed water once a week with good drainage, medium sunlight, and needed to be transplanted when they got larger. There was, however, nothing on the cards to prepare me for what would occur within a few days.

 The flowers began to brown and fall off.  

Continue reading “friendships and houseplants: help! the flowers fell off!”

waiting on a storm and preaching to myself

Between Monday’s eclipse and getting kids back to school, it’s already been a strange week. Now, with Hurricane Harvey bearing down on us here in Texas, we’re all throwing our schedules out the window and getting prepared.

Storm prep is a bit sobering—last year’s devastating floods are still fresh on people’s minds. However, one good thing that always happens in Houston is that people begin to focus on taking care of their families and neighbors. Grace starts to manifest itself in beautiful ways.

hurricane-earth-satellite-tracking-71116

In my own life this week, I’ve needed a refresher on that amazing grace. What I wrote last week on forbearance and what I’ve wanted to write about forgiveness this week have been put to the test. There haven’t been any big upsets, but I’ve been an anxious, irritable mess and haven’t had a whole lot of grace for my family or myself. On top of that, every bit of sharp-tongued criticism I’ve directed at my family, every hurt feeling I’ve struggled to release—all of it has been on a replay loop in my brain. Forbearance? Forgiveness? Who can write about those when you can’t seem to extend either?

Now, a few of you other veteran parents just nodded knowingly because you are acutely aware that things get a little tense as the kids head back to school. In fact, my problem-solving husband was Googling articles on the August Blues, trying to help me gain perspective. (He was also trying to soothe me with science since I’m a sucker for good research—if nerd-speak isn’t an official love language, it should be.)

So yes, I’m aware that what I’ve been experiencing—the short temper, the frustration, and the angsty regrets over those feelings—isn’t that different from other moms in back-to-school mode, especially those who tend toward some anxiety and depression like me.

So do I dare write about things like forbearance and forgiveness? You bet I do.

Continue reading “waiting on a storm and preaching to myself”