Monthly Archives: June 2013

let the evening come . . .

“Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set.” –Genesis 28:10-11


Certain places. We’ve reached a new one—a God-ordained assignment just an hour south of our last one. My number nineteen; pastorally speaking, our fifth appointment with the United Methodist Church.

Like Jacob on a night so long ago in Bethel, we’re stopping here for a season. The sun has set on our previous day’s traveling (our six months’ worth of running), and now we have the great privilege of rest, of living and breathing in this new place landscaped by open fields, few stoplights, fresh peaches, and neighbors who drop by with fresh vegetables . . . just because.

Certain places. We’re well-suited for this one. Sometimes a heart just knows when it’s home. And this morning as we worshiped alongside new friends in filled church pews, my soul was stirred at the deepest level. First Sundays rarely go as planned; there are always a few hiccups and a few whispers, but none of that mattered to me on this first Sunday of my number nineteen.

What mattered?

The peace of knowing that I am home. That I can rest my head upon this stone named Saint Luke and can find a stairway that stretches straight forward to the heart of God. Like Jacob, my soul proclaims, “Surely the Lord is in this place …” (Gen. 28:16).

It’s not that the Lord hasn’t been present in my preceding eighteen places; it’s simply a great soul-relief knowing that he resides here as well. That God has already graced this place with the present of his presence long before my arrival.

I’m grateful for the setting sun, for a tangible sign that a previous day’s laboring is finished. It’s a good thing to shut my eyes and pull down the shades on the struggles of recent days, knowing that even as I rest, God is at work . . . ascending and descending on his ladder of mercy, making certain that I don’t miss his whispers of grace. I imagine he will tell me great and unsearchable things in this night’s pause (Jer. 33:3). Divine disclosure is a guarantee for the children of God. As we are faithful to rest in God’s house, our Father is faithful to entertain our hearts with his.

I want nothing more.

I just want to know God and then, out of that knowing, lead others to know the same. This certain place is the right place to do both. With God’s help and because of the heavenly generosity afforded my soul, I pledge my affection to this new ministry soil. I’ll put my hand to the plow, alongside my husband’s; together we’ll sow kingdom seed, and we’ll trust God for the harvest.

And so I pray,

Let the evening come, Lord. Let the stars shine brightly in this night’s rest. Slow me down and show me your glory. May the labors of my yesterdays serve as a strong foundation for my today, as well as an anchoring remembrance for my tomorrows. I thank you for this stay in Bethel and for this stone upon which I lay my head, my heart, and my faith. Make this pause in my journey count for your kingdom. Keep me on my knees, and awaken my heart to yours. Thank you for the struggle that has brought me thus far, and thank you for the grace that has kept me moving forward. Home is within reach. I can see it from here. This certain place is the right place for my heart. Amen. So be it.

PS: There was a beautiful flower arrangement on the altar this morning, given in honor of our arrival. Thanks to Mr. Bill, I have fresh cut flowers all around my house. It’s good to be welcomed!

Rodeo . . .


This isn’t my first rodeo.

In the course of my lifetime, I’ve lived in five different states, ten cities, and changed physical addresses at least eighteen times. My family and I are less than a week away from making it number nineteen.

A new home. New community. New ministry. New everything. Alongside the new, will arrive some old. It’s the old that sustains me. Strengthens me. Maintains me. That old?

God is near. (Ps. 145:18; James 4:8)




When breathed in isolation, those three words hold enough theology, imagery, breadth, and depth to transition a heart from the old into the new. God and his nearness are old. God and his nearness are new. Never changing; ever the same. Ever present, active, and accurate. God simply and profoundly IS wherever I am. I cannot outrun his presence or hide from his heavenly GPS. He knows where I am and is willing to keep pace with my progression. Movement wins when God is with me.

This is how I can do this thing—keep making these moves and living the itinerant life. Knowing that God is near me keeps me upright in the saddle and focused on the finish line. Certainly, I’ve kicked up a little dust along the way, taken a tumble every now and again, and even knocked over a barrel on occasion. Each rodeo comes with its unique obstacles. But even then—even there in those moments of holding on for dear life—joy can be found. There’s something about the ride that trumps the risk.

To ride and rope and gallop alongside Jesus is to live life on the solid edge. This is how faith feels to me right now—dusty, wild, fast, and furious. I am hanging on for dear, sweet life. I’m resolved regarding the finish line, tenaciously gripping the reins in one hand while waving to the crowd with the other . . .

Just so you’ll know I’m still here. Just so you’ll know I haven’t given up. Just so you’ll know that I’m still committed to the ride, regardless of how bumpy it gets some days.

How grateful I am for the nearness of God and for this ride that draws me ever closer to his heart!

*Fair Warning: Number nineteen, here I come! Saddle up, and get ready to rodeo, friends. We’re in for the ride of our lives. May God grant us his favor, his strength, his discernment, his joy, and his peace for the journey that lies ahead. I thank you for the privilege of riding my horse next to yours.


dancing in the car . . .

Tonight we danced in the car.

Never mind the two kids in the back of the van or the fact that we were driving in six lanes of traffic. When the song hit the airwaves, our hearts were immediately fastened on one another and on the reality that is ours to hold.

Deep love. A love that carries burdens and holds on for the rest of the story. I imagine it’s what we do best, how we’ve made this work. We carry and we hold despite the odds that are forever trying to isolate our hearts from one another.

Never more have we needed this holding love. The current of life is swiftly (and sometimes harshly) pulling us along, and there are days when the waters rush over us with the force of Niagara. Sometimes, it feels like we’re drowning in this craziness called right now. It’s in those times . . . a right now kind of time, when we need a song like this one. A favorite country music melody that allows us to dance in the car – touching hands and crying tears and making a choice, once again, to hold on to the rest of our story.

I’ve long since given up trying to predict the lines of our upcoming chapters. But every now and again, I dream a little with my man. I remember our way back then and think forward regarding our up and coming, and find myself exceedingly tender about and grateful for the right now.

Right now?

Well, right now we take a pause, take a hand, and take a moment to dance in the car. Just like we did on that night so many nights ago when his long locks captured my fancy and his fancy footwork stepped on my toes a time or two. We’ve come a long way since our first barn dance, and I imagine we’ve a few more turns around the dance floor before the lights go down. At least this is where my dreaming takes me tonight.

I love the way he loves me, and I love the song that allows us a dance in the car from time to time.

Keep dancing with the ones you love, friends. Keep holding on to one another. Your rest of the story just may be the best of your story. I’ll meet you on the dance floor.

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a table for grace . . .

It’s not much. Just an old table with two even older chairs. I spied them alongside Hwy. 70 while winding my way home from my annual run to the eye doctor. My U-turn came as no surprise to my eldest son who made the trek with me; after twenty-four years of being my child, he’s grown accustomed to my motherly whims. After all, he needed this collection of not much.

A table for grace. A table for my boys.

“Think of the meals once shared there, Nick. The stories told there. The tears cried there. The prayers uttered there. Think of them, son, when you and your brother find your places around this table in coming days.”

And there it lingered between us – our thoughts about coming days and about how a table for grace might just be the thing to keep our family together, even though our paths are diverging.

Grace tables are keeping tables because grace tables are framed upon firm foundations. What is built there (through meals, stories, tears, and prayers) is enough to write a history and fortify its remembrance. Hearts are shaped, beliefs are forged, memories are collected, and sins are forgiven at a table for grace. It’s where we do some of our best work as human beings. Why?

Because when we sit down at the table with others, we lean our hearts, minds, and souls toward understanding. We extend reciprocity. We offer respect. We lend grace. Tables cry out for such generosity. To deny them this possibility is to live underprivileged. Who wants to live like that? I certainly don’t, and as the mother of two cherished and adored, grown sons, I must extend this privilege due them.

And so, I made a U-turn on Hwy. 70, did some negotiating, and came home with two chairs and a table for grace. I know something of its value, even though my boys have yet to bow their heads in thanks around it. That will come for them and for the four of us they leave behind; of this I am certain.

As a family, we love the table for grace. We didn’t just discover it. As far as we know, it’s always been . . . long before any of us made entrance into this world. A keeping table built on a firm foundation that will outlast our earthly occupancy and that will carry us forward into our eternal one.

Think of the meals shared there, friends. The stories told there. The tears cried there. The prayers uttered there. Think of it all – God’s all – when you find your place around a table for grace in coming days. God’s children (the ones who await our arrival at the heavenly banqueting table) understand the value of such meals. They no longer live under their privilege. Instead, they live inside of it, surrounded by grace and keeping company with the King.

A table for grace. A worthy U-turn. An everlasting history.

Would you take time to live your privilege this week? Find a table and find a loved one. Share a meal and write rich history together. Grace is waiting to meet you as you arrive. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

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