Pretty sure this is the worst pollen season in Houston history. I say that every year, but y’all, it’s been going on for 6 weeks now. McLeod worked so hard the other day cleaning the outdoor furniture. Didn’t last long. I broke down and washed my car. As of last night, it’s got a light dusting once again. A teenager looking for work came by yesterday and said, “I’m power-washing for some of your neighbors, and…your…porch…” He just let the ugly yellow truth hang there.
Today, though, the rain is washing some of it away, and I’m hopeful that the pollination frenzy will die down soon. Of course, even then, we’ll always have a certain amount of dirt, dust, and yes, pollen to clean up if we don’t want things to get completely dingy around here.
Jesus said something similar about how spiritual dirt and grime tend to accumulate, too. So if you’re itching (or sneezing?) through a time of spiritual dustiness, take a moment to hear what he had to say.
A change of scenery is good for the soul. Last week we took a trip to Mexico and delighted in crystal-clear underground rivers, Mayan ruins, tropical birds and flowers, and of course, lots of sand and sun. Though I’m now busy dumping out that sand from shoes and bags, I’m trying to hold on firmly to the peacefulness I felt when my biggest concern of the day was whether to have the seafood or steak for dinner. For a week, somebody else was in charge of feeding and providing for us and I could rest. (And mamas everywhere just said, “Amen!”)
Of course, get me back home and I once again start to fall prey to a lie that the whole world—at least as far as it extends to my family, friends, and sphere of influence—is somehow resting on my shoulders, just moments away from collapse if I don’t find ways to control everything around me.
Hello, my name is Cassia, and I’m a control-freak.
I’ve been encouraged this week, though, by what Jesus says about how to let go of that nagging need to worry and fuss about our daily lives. Read More
For International Women’s Day, I’ve been mulling over the life of Deborah, a prophetess who led the nation of Israel during its “Wild West” period known as the time of the judges. Like another notable prophetess, Miriam (see Exodus 15:20), Deborah was gifted in Spirit-inspired song. In fact, all of Judges 5 is a truth-telling, prophetic anthem attributed to her. However, she was also that lightening-in-a-bottle combination of spokesperson for God and capable, charismatic leader, dispensing wisdom as she decided her people’s civil cases, giving God’s marching orders to the military leader, and rallying the people to fight back against their enemies (Judges 4-5). Here’s what she says about that holy calling:
“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths [because of attacks and oppression from the Canaanites]. Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.” From the Song of Deborah, Judges 5:6-7
I don’t know if Deborah had children of her own—we do know she had a husband named Lappidoth but no mention is made of children—but whether she had raised a family or not, she stepped into the role of “motherly protector in Israel,” as the New English Translation renders that last phrase.
Let that sink in.
When everyone around her was shrinking back, hiding in fear during a time of turmoil and oppression, Deborah arose as a picture of God’s strength, wisdom, and advocacy on behalf of others. Her womanhood shone forth in its fiercest form, not just as nurturer but as courageous protector. Read More
How ‘bout them resolutions? Anybody still winning with theirs? I can tell you I’ve mostly kept up with one of them, but it’s neither the one I made about eating more heart-healthy fish nor the one about getting more exercise. (Insert list of excuses here. Take a deep breath. Get back on the plan with lots of grace toward self.)
The one that’s still sticking has been to review each day with gratitude and capture a memory in a sentence or two in my planner, as I discuss here. Each morning I review the previous day, finding that after a night’s sleep I’m better able to focus on what was memorable and look for things for which to thank God. I’ve had a few days where I skipped, but more often than not, I’ve got a note that reminds me that each day is a gift, whether the events were spectacular, awful, or just plain ordinary.
Recently, though, my friend Linda challenged me to look not only at where I could be thankful, but also pay close attention to God’s faithfulness. That grabbed my attention.
Why? Because here’s what I have been finding out in the gratitude exercise:
Sometimes, if I’m not careful, I can begin to pat myself on the back for how I’m finding things for which to be thankful as if I’m doing God some kind of favor by expressing gratitude in all kinds of circumstances. And frankly, when the circumstances aren’t so great—like the last several weeks in the Glass house with back-to-back-to-back viruses, a child with a broken foot, and tough school and work schedules—forcing a “gratitude attitude” can feel more like a ritualistic duty than a heartfelt expression of thanks. Like it’s something I’m doing that God should reward with brownie points and maybe supernatural Lysol for our house.
But when I focus on the larger picture of God’s faithfulness, the pattern of his care and intervention into my daily life, I am humbled and grateful in a deeper way. Read More
Before you were even formed, I knew you. I made a way to bring you into my family because of my love for you. I am the way to your forever home. You are my child. I have made that home for you, but you also have made a home for me, right in the center of your being. If you heard me knocking and opened the door of your heart, then I came in. Even if you’ve almost forgotten that, you can trust my love for you and let it motivate you to move forward. I haven’t left you abandoned, an orphan in the world, but have given you my own spirit to be with you forever. Nothing can separate you from my love—not circumstances, not people, not problems, not even death. My love for you knows no bounds. So now, my Valentine, since you know who you are and whose you are, don’t be afraid to get out there and love others in my name. Then, they will know I’m right here waiting to be the Valentine for which their souls are searching, ready to rescue and love them, too. Remain in my love — God
Wondering if those thoughts are just a whimsical notion, an early-morning flight of fancy from my imagination? Not so! Truth is, God has been trying to pass you and me love notes all along. Read More
It’s been awhile since I shared some great books, so it’s time for another Reading Roundup. Other than the fact that all three of these reads have blueish-greenish covers, I thought they were an eclectic group. However, I realized while writing about them that they all touch on themes of family and community. Explains why I liked them so much, and why I think you will, too. Read More
“I have tried and tried to forgive him. I want to forgive! But I just can’t seem to forget. Now, I’m so afraid of being hurt again by someone else.”
Ugh, that’s a hard place to be, and anyone who’s gone through pain and betrayal can probably relate. In fact, after this dear woman shared her dilemma with a group of us gathered to study the Bible and pray, more than a few ladies began to nod in agreement.
These were dear sisters who loved the Lord, and their pain ran deep. They sincerely desired to be obedient to God’s command to love others and practice forgiveness, but they felt stuck because the memories of hurt and betrayal were still not healed.
What we learned that night was this: Forgiving and forgetting are not the same, nor do they need to be.