Category Archives: strength

when seasons change. . .

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” –Eccl. 3:1

The changing seasons. A new one is arriving to replace the old.

Fall has always been my preference. Color. Coolness. Breezes and releases. The heat of summer is being swept away by the wind, and I am ready for flannel and jackets. I’m ready for the cover-up of fall. Time to wrap up, go in, let go, and go deeper with Jesus. Time to hide-away with him and to unwrap the treasures of this seasonal shift. Yes, an autumnal embrace is a good fit with my heart. It refreshes my soul.

What about you? What season cradles your steps? What season is currently challenging your heart? Fall? Winter? Spring? Summer?

A few thoughts from Beyond Cancer’s Scars: Laying Claim to a Stronger Spirit:

“I don’t know what season you’re walking through, but I do know that each one bares a worthiness all its own. As you trace the heart of King Solomon, I imagine that you, along with me, are able to find the lines of your story tangled up with each line of his. There’s hope to be found there, to our realizing that we live a seasonal faith and that, with that living, comes a time for every thing—every joy, pain, frustration, surrender, sorrow, and celebration. Nothing in our lives is exempt from the cyclical process of our winter, spring, summer, and fall. We can choose to walk through them with little or no effect to our hearts, but we cannot deny the possibility of growth extended to us because of them. Each season of our lives is rife with eternal possibilities. The soul shift happens when we bow low and lean into those possibilities.” –F. Elaine Olsen, Beyond Cancer’s Scars, pg. 137.

Maybe today, maybe sometime this weekend, you might take a look at King Solomon’s heart via his pen, found in Ecclesiastes 3? Maybe, like me, you’ll be able to pinpoint your current season to one of Solomon’s. In doing so, I pray your heart refreshed, encouraged, lifted up, and strengthened by the truth that (regardless of whatever season you’re walking through) you’re not walking it in isolation from the Almighty. God is hunkered down with you in the midst of your steps, and he sees clearly the marked path in front of you.

Trust in that abiding, friends, and stick close to the Father.

Wrap up; go in; let go; go deeper.

God has something more for you than currently meets the eye. Most certainly, that something will stretch your faith and shape your soul. Keep to it. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

To learn more about you might receive the witness of Beyond Cancer’s Scars: Laying Claim to a Stronger Spirit, click here.  Also, for those of you who live in the Goldsboro, NC, area, Pine Forest UMC is hosting a book signing Saturday morning, October 13th, from 10:00 AM until. Feel free to contact me for additional details.

authenticity . . .

Authenticity. Being authentic. Not fake. Genuine. Real. Threadbare and exposed.

Are you authentic? If you answered “yes” then allow me a further probe. Who decides what’s authentic? How do you determine the boundaries for the definition, or does the definition (in and of itself) require that no boundaries be put around it? Does being authentic mean you just throw your “all” out there and hope for the best—take me or leave me, this is who I am?

It’s getting a lot of buzz these days . . . authenticity, especially in our “Christianese”—the vernacular of us religious folk. There’s something to be said for our exposure before one another; truth-telling can be a crucible for holiness. We can’t move forward in our faith by faking it. But I’m wondering, if, perhaps, our version of authenticity stops short of being a productive, spiritual discipline.

What’s the point of keeping it real, if keeping it real becomes an end in itself rather than a means to achieving an end—holiness?

Case in point. I’m about to expose myself. Hold on. You might not be ready for this one.

Yesterday, I canceled my appointment with my general practioner . . . for the 2nd time. It was scheduled for 3:45 PM. I called (actually I had my husband call) and cancel around 2:00 PM. Why?

  • I didn’t want to weigh in.
  • I didn’t want a repeat lecture about my cholesterol being too high.
  • I didn’t want to weigh in.

My decision was based on an earlier encounter with the bathroom scale—my husband and my twenty-three-year-old son’s throw-down, weigh in. They bantered back and forth about who weighed less, who ate more, and who would be thinner the next time around. When I heard their numbers, I was crushed and loudly pronounced my angst.

“I’m the heaviest person in this family. I weigh more than the rest of you. Call the doctor, Billy, and reschedule. I’m not going in today.”

He complied; I cried and continued to wrap myself up in the enemy’s shame regarding my appearance. Nothing’s fit right since cancer. Nothing looks right, either. It all feels wrong on me.

There, that wasn’t so hard. There’s some real and authentic truth for you. I’m not proud of it; I should have put “my big girl panties on a dealt with it.” Problem is, the big girl panties are too big, and I’m not keen on exposing them to others. Just keeping it real, friends. But here’s the problem: it’s not enough to tell you about it, throw it all out in front of the world while shouting, “Take me or leave me, this is who I am.”

This isn’t authenticity, not according to God; this isn’t transformation. This is defeat; this is refusing to do the hard work that follows personal disclosure. That hard work for me?

Well, it’s not just about my moving more and eating less. Greater still, it’s about exposing my pain before Jesus, about moving more into his Word, and about eating less of the enemy’s assessment regarding my body.

This is authenticity . . . not being afraid to fully disclose the pain and truth before the mirror of God’s Word and before God’s heart, knowing that with reflection will come greater understanding, greater strength, and greater exposure to the only truth that has the power to transform me rather than to judge me. If I’m willing to do this—to go all in with Jesus and with his assessment regarding my appearance—then I can boast about personal authenticity. Otherwise, I’m just living a lie, kidding myself and trying to kid the world into believing that my big girl panties and me are here to stay; take us or leave us, this is who we are.

Authenticity. It only comes to us as we are willing to come to the cross and expose our nakedness, our wounds, and our truth to the nakedness, wounds, and truth of Jesus Christ. He is the standard-bearer for authenticity; he defines it, refines it, and mines for it in each one of us. He is the means to our holiness. He is the end of it as well. When we go to him and pour out our reflection before him, he begins to pour out his reflection into us.

This is how we can make peace with our flesh and live in peace with God’s people. His truth over-powering and replacing the enemy’s lies. His estimation overtaking the mirror’s assessment and bringing forth new life from woundedness. More of Jesus reflecting authentically through less of us. Accordingly,

Take us, don’t leave us, Jesus, this is who we are, and this is why we so desperately need your hand of grace in our lives. Amen.

Sassy Granny has also written a post about authenticity. You can find it here.

Rediscovering Your Song…

Being a survivor isn’t about defeating the cancer. Being a survivor is about defeating the silence.

That’s what I told a group of cancer survivors last Sunday night at a Relay for Life banquet. It’s what I’ve come to believe. To survive cancer is to survive the silence—the deafening quiet that creeps in alongside suffering in hopes of suffocating the song that once sang its melody so gracefully, so faithfully, so willingly, so naturally.

There is a great price that often accompanies a great suffering. That price? A great silence. A time when the previous witness and words of a great faith are stifled by the traumatic strain of simply staying alive. Singing isn’t a priority when suffering steps to the front of the line. The song often gets buried, cast aside and forgotten, to simmer beneath the weightiness of pain and of what once was.

But here is the truth of the eternal song. Once the music has made its way into a heart, no amount of throwing and crying and denying its pulse can keep it buried forever. We can go to the grave refusing it a voice, but in the end, the music remains. It will find its chorus, even without our participation, because the King’s music is meant to be sung (peace for the journey: in the pleasure of his company,” 2010, pg. 7). 

Some songs don’t die. Some songs are just that strong, certain, truthful, and demanding. Some songs, God’s song, your song and my song, are still singing. Maybe you haven’t heard it in a long time; maybe, like me, it’s been buried beneath a season of grief and suffering. I want to encourage you today to not give up on the reality of the music that’s hiding deep within your heart. The melody remains, and whether or not you’ve been victimized by cancer or by another soul-eating something, you can know that your survivorship isn’t solely dependent on a pill or a program or the best resources available to you by doctors. The best of all of these remedies will only carry you so far in the process of healing. In fact, none of these may help you as it pertains to defeating your cancer.

But if you can defeat the silence that surrounds your cancer? If you can dig deeply to retrieve the melody that once sang so beautifully through your lips? Well, then you’ll have survived your disease in a way that yields eternal value. For our pain to matter, our pain needs a voice that is surrendered to the process of renewal. It’s a slow process that walks its own timetable. Silence doesn’t turn into song over night. But over night, a step in the right direction will yield a few notes… one or two or ten at first. One verse building on another until the music makes a melody that takes what once was and sings it more gracefully, more faithfully, more willingly, and more naturally. Almost as if that’s what God had in mind all along—a better song, refined and renewed through suffering.

To get there? Well, I don’t have the perfect strategy for curing your silence, but I have a few thoughts about how you might begin the process of rediscovering your song.

Remember. Take time to review the melody of your yesterdays—the days before your suffering began. Remember your voice, your faith, your hope. Reflect on the beauty that once was. Write it down, retrieve those memories, and linger upon them long enough until the refrain finds its way to your lips. And then, with that old song fresh in your memory…

Resist thinking that your old song was your best song. Refuse the enemy’s lie that the best has already been. Your best song is your next song—the one tempered and refined by the trials of life. God can and does write new notes into your musical score, not in an attempt to cover up the old ones, but rather to enhance them. To energize them. To fully empower them with the truth of his Spirit so that when you sing, you sing with understanding and with the certainty that all has not been lost in the suffering. God has been gained in the midst of great peril, and you have lived another day to sing the witness of his grace. And then, once you’ve made it past your remembering and your resisting, by God’s grace and with his permission,…

Rehearse. Start practicing your new song. A few notes today; a few more tomorrow, until you get the melody down, until it starts sounding familiar. Sing to yourself. Sing to your kids. Sing to your spouse. Sing to your friends. Sing to the mirror. Sing to God. Don’t worry about your voice. You’ll probably warble at first, crack your voice a time or two and turn a few heads in the process. Who cares? Songs of faith aren’t written to shame you. Songs of faith are written to reframe you. It doesn’t matter your performance with the melody. What matters is your willingness to try—to be so bold as to believe that you were meant to sing and that nobody, not one single person, can sing your new song as beautifully as you can. And finally, if you’ve made it this far with your remembering, resisting, and rehearsing, then…

Rejoice. Thank God for the gift of the song. Thank God for the gift of the song. Thank God for the gift of the song. Over and over again, rejoice in the gift of the song, because the song begins and ends with God. In the beginning, he wrote the melody. Through his Son, he retrieved the melody from the depths of the deepest grave. And through the power of his Holy Spirit, his melody still sings through flesh—through you and me. What a gift! What privilege! What renewal is ours because of the song!

Being a survivor isn’t about defeating the cancer. Being a survivor is about defeating the silence.

Are you willing to do the hard work of soul-survivorship? I pray so, because no one can sing God’s song through you better than you. I believe this with my whole heart, and by God’s very good grace, I’m endeavoring to live accordingly. Remembering, resisting, rehearsing, and rejoicing all the way home to heaven. As always…

Peace for the journey,

post signature

safely through till morning

“Because the LORD kept vigil that night… ” (Exodus 12:42)


A few weeks ago, our elderly neighbor, Mr. Jim, called us in the middle of the night. We’d instructed him to do so should a need arise. It did. His bride of sixty years plus had fallen in the bathroom, and he couldn’t get her back on her feet. Billy was able to help out and to save our neighbors another 911 call.

Since that time, I check on them every morning. Not with a phone call or a visit but, instead, with a single glance out my window. I look for the familiar lamplight in their den. If it’s glowing, I breathe a sigh of relief. The lustrous warmth from behind their window pane tells me one thing.

They made it safely through the night till morning.

In many ways their certainty serves as mine. I, too, made it safely through the night till morning. Seeing their light reflects back on that fact that my lamplight is also burning… lit and fueled by a night’s worth of resting. I cannot see it as it’s happening—this collection of rest that gathers in the folds of my flesh as I slumber in the dark. But each new morning, I’m reminded that what I cannot see happening in the dark—cannot manage nor manipulate while in an altered state of consciousness—is often the strength that carries me through the daylight hours.

God is the Keeper of that darkness. God superintends the gathering and collection of strength as I rest. I’m not always comfortable with the conditions of that rest. Many have been the nights when I’ve fought the constraints of my darkness, wrestled with the unknown realities of nighttime, only to arrive depleted by dawn’s arrival. Rather than giving in to a normal, nocturnal cycle, I rally against it. I burn a candle in defiance, refusing to let the night do its work in me. Those are times of lesser faith… lesser trust in the God who keeps vigil for me.

Oh to be a woman of faith who doesn’t run from the darkness but, instead, who believes God to see her safely through till morning. A “kept” woman—kept safe, kept warm, kept closely, kept wholly by the Father who draws his children closely to his heart and who uses their darkness as the growing field of a tremendous, unshakeable trust.

I’ve been through a dark night, friends. A long, drawn-out season of nocturnal growth. As the dawn approaches, I don’t feel as rested as I’d like. Some night seasons require more than others. But of one thing I am certain…

I am stronger for the night I have known, because God has kept vigil for me.

A dark night with a vigilant God grows a stronger spirit. God is the candle that stands in the shadows of our sleep and that keeps our hearts fueled for the arrival of dawn. A new day, a new season to live as a certain witness to the night’s growth that has preceded it.

Today, I’m a witness. You are as well. We’ve made it through another night, and our candles are still burning. You may not be aware of it, but you have a few neighbors—a friend, a family member, a co-worker, a stranger—who are looking through their windows into yours this morning to make sure that your lamplight is on. Your light is important to them. It shines as a testimony to a night’s rest, a night’s trust, a night’s growth, a night’s vigilance by a loving God. He kept you then; he keeps you still.

Thanks be to God for the keeping, reaching hold of grace! God is growing his kingdom in you and through you… even in the darkness. The light from your window strengthens me. Thank you for allowing me a look inward from time to time. As always…

Peace for the journey,

error: Content is protected !!