gospel, grace, parenting

A Daddy, A Daughter & The Gospel

April 14, 2016
Daddy & Gospel (2)

“I want my daddy.”

Those were my daughter Cameron’s words yesterday. We’d gone to the hospital to have an ultrasound done. Her stomach had been aching since Sunday, and her doctor ordered one to see what might be wrong. After the radiologist studied the screen, he showed me what he saw—a swollen appendix with a stone inside.

“You must have a high tolerance for pain,” he told her. “This should be excruciating.”

He quickly left the room with an assistant. Cameron and I thought we’d be heading home, waiting for word from her doctor as to what would happen next. When the radiologist returned, he said we were heading straight for the emergency side of the hospital. He’d spoken with Cameron’s doctor, and Cameron needed to be prepped for surgery. Now.

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Jesus

Intimacy Before Agony

March 23, 2016
large_intimacy-before-agony-ukeuryow

Jesus would be arrested in mere hours and crucified the following day. Intense agony awaited him, of which he was well aware. Once he had eaten the Passover meal with his disciples, he could have departed to a secluded place alone to pray, as he’d done before.

But Jesus didn’t spend that evening secluded, selfishly focused on the anguish to come. The night before he went to the cross, he focused on relationship. Jesus spent those hours deepening bonds of friendship and intimacy.

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

Relationships were strained during the Passover supper. Judas knew he wasn’t one of them. He was betraying Jesus and everything the disciples had believed in for the past three years. Though the disciples sat in the presence of an eternal and mighty God, they had taken to arguing which one of them was greatest.

In the midst of such relational tension, Jesus rose, took off his outer garments, tied a towel around his waist, and poured water into a bowl. The disciples must have thought, “Surely not . . . ” These were the gestures of the lowliest slave, one about to engage in the lowliest of tasks.

Yet, Jesus went to the first disciple, stooped before him, and began washing dirt and grime from his feet. Then he proceeded to the next, and the next, including Judas, his betrayer. Peter expressed the shock of them all. “You shall never wash my feet” (John 13:8). But Jesus let him know there was symbolism in the cleansing. And when he’d reclined again, he instructed them as to what he’d done. He had performed an act of lowest servitude so that they could follow his example. Rather than argue who was greatest, they needed to understand that greatness lay in humility.

Continue reading over at Desiring God . . .

Bible

When Time in the Word Seems Uneventful . . .

March 16, 2016
Power in Redundant

I’m sitting here with my Bible open, thinking, I do the same thing every morning. Make coffee, sit at my kitchen table, study the Word.

It’s uneventful. No glitz. No glam. Hair bunched under a satin scarf, wearing workout clothes from my run on the basement treadmill.

Exactly. I don’t even smell good.

There was a time my mornings were filled with activity. Excitement. Anticipation. Legal briefs were due. A deposition was scheduled of an opposing party. Or a court appearance, maybe in Chicago or San Francisco. Briefcase in hand, pumps on my feet, my life brimmed with energy. I was moving. Doing. It seems a lifetime ago. I left that world in 1999.

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Christian living

In An Age of Self-Branding…

March 2, 2016

Self-Branding

I posted last week about God starving my bestseller appetite and thought it interesting that some of the feedback—encouraging to be sure—thanked me for being transparent and honest. It made me wonder if this was unusual to share. I hadn’t written with that in mind. Wasn’t trying to be brave. I had simply prayed for the Lord to show me what to write, and that’s what rose inside.

I was reminded of times I’ve received similar feedback, like the post that mentioned my publishing contract hadn’t been renewed. Or the one that announced my season with Women of Faith had ended—much earlier than anticipated. And the posts over the past six or so years that touch on issues with my mouth, my attitude, my need for more faith and trust, and my desperate need daily for the grace and mercy of Christ.

But isn’t that part of our Christian walk . . . wrestling with flesh, battling disappointment? And acknowledging that we fall short but for Jesus—isn’t that the Gospel?

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Christian living, grace

How God Starved My “Bestseller” Appetite

February 23, 2016

Humbled YouAs I was writing my debut novel, it loomed as the crown jewel—the Essence bestseller’s list. Many of the books published by Walk Worthy Press had achieved that status. And the status—Essence Bestselling Author—was emblazoned in mega-font on the authors’ subsequent covers. That’s what I wanted. That’s what I prayed for.

After Heavenly Places released, I began hearing how books actually made the Essence list. They had to be sold at certain reporting stores. So authors were known to schedule signings at those stores, in hopes of hitting the bestseller threshold. Plus, the founder of Walk Worthy had also started the Glory Girls Book Club, which became the largest African-American book club in the country. With Walk Worthy books featured regularly, they were guaranteed to sell well as thousands of club readers snapped them up.

When my novel released, though, Walk Worthy’s heyday was ending. Books were no longer being distributed by Warner, which itself had been a sales boost. And within a year, the entire operation folded.

Heavenly Places never made the Essence bestseller list.

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salt-n-light, Spirit-led living

Making the Most of God-Moments

February 17, 2016

Making the Most of God-MomentsI booked my plane ticket rather last minute. I’d been debating whether to fly to Maryland to celebrate my childhood friend’s 50th birthday party. I’ve known Kim since first grade at St. Margaret’s Elementary, and we even graduated Elizabeth Seton High School together. Thanks to Facebook (there are indeed benefits!), we’d reconnected a few years back. When I got the invitation, my heart said a quick, Yes!

But I had other considerations. Cost, of course, family logistics . . . and could I afford a weekend away from writing, given my looming deadline?

But God had been impressing something consistently on my heart—life is a vapor (James 4:14). We don’t know how much time we have, or whether a now-opportunity will come again. When possible, I need to show up. I talked to Bill, who’s been feeling the same way, booked my ticket, and, this past weekend showed up.

And it was amazing.

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Bible, love

Not a Casual Kind of Love

February 11, 2016

Love 1 John

I love John . . . the apostle, that is. The Gospel of John is one of my favorite books of the Bible. I love Revelation as well, also penned by John. And yesterday, as I did a fresh read of another of his books—First John—I remembered how very much I love that one too!

Its boldness convicted, encouraged, and fired me up.

We can become accustomed to a certain tenor in popular culture. There’s “your truth” and “my truth,” and even if one believes there’s absolute Truth, it’s often stated in a wishy-washy way. Many Christians don’t want to offend people with truth, certainly don’t want to be rejected because of truth. So fear often keeps us from speaking the truth. Or lack of knowledge. Many believers simply don’t study so as to know truth.

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grace, Spirit-led living, witness

A Social Media Heart Check

February 5, 2016

large_a-social-media-heart-check-dtprssud

Before social media, life seemed simpler, uncluttered. You knew what you alone were having for dinner, not twenty others. Hours in a day were more productive. Focused. No scroll-and-click distractions. No blog hopping. You hunkered down and worked — or played with your kids or read a good book — without thought as to what you might be missing. And you knew people, warts and all, not just their happy highlight reels, the ones that move you to discontentment with your own life.

Social media has attracted masses of us because we benefit from the connection, the information, and the inspiration. But for Christians, as many of us can attest, there are potential pitfalls as well. Though we desire to glorify the Lord and represent him well, the world of social media can upset those intentions, if we’re not careful. Wisdom would have us check our hearts regularly by keeping key questions in mind.

Am I Walking by the Spirit?

Social media is robust with real-time engagement. Timelines are filled with reaction and raw emotion. Opinions are wielded like swords. Political and popular figures are skewered with aplomb. It’s easy to step into this fast-moving current and get carried by the flesh.

Social media enlivens our carnal nature. We enjoy quick satisfaction. Emotion wants an outlet. Complaints must be heard. Anger needs to be expressed. And contrary views must be vigorously opposed, because that’s what the flesh enjoys as well — superiority. It will mow down another’s views — succinctly if on Twitter — while elevating its own, earning a satisfying flurry of shares and retweets. We all know how much the flesh loves validation.

Continue reading over at Desiring God . . .

. . . then would love to discuss here at the blog!

grace, parenting, seasons

A Mother, A Daughter & The Gospel

February 2, 2016

Mother Daughter Gospel (2)I love my daughter Cameron. She’s seventeen, which isn’t that old, and yet, I can look back on several seasons already, and smile.

Like when she was four, and I began teaching her to read. I remember the cute way she’d sound out vowel and consonant pairs, and her wide-eyed excitement when she could recognize those vowels and consonants in real words, and read them. I smile still when I think about it.

And there was the season of read-alouds on the sofa. She’d snuggle next to me as I read Mr. Popper’s Penguins or Charlotte’s Web. Then she’d read aloud her latest, which for a good while, was one of the Ramona books. That girl couldn’t get enough of Ramona and her antics. Though dog-eared and the covers torn, I can’t part with those books. Too many memories.

And there was the season, several years, when we’d go to our local rec center for weekly swim lessons. She’d beg me to stay long after the lesson ended so she could splash and play. One day I looked up and she was swimming laps.

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grace, parenting, seasons

On Seasons & Sacrifice

January 27, 2016

On Seasons & Sacrifice

I got the email on Monday. There was a spot for me in the online version of Apologetics & Outreach, a seminary class that started that same day. “Do you still want it?”

Well. Yes. I wanted that spot and the spot in the on-campus course I’d pre-registered for. In fact, I wanted all the other spots for which I’d pre-registered in the past couple of years . . . pre-registrations that never culminated in actual enrollment because of obligations at home.

That’s what had happened this time. Back in November, I could dream. I could peruse required course offerings, check days and times, and pick what worked. At least, what I thought would work. I would knock out two courses spring semester in furtherance of my Master’s in Theological Studies.

But by January, the reality of homeschooling high school kicked in. As much as I wanted to regard the load as lighter, since our son was off to college, I had very real obligations still. And I could see where there might be conflicts. So I let the registration deadline pass. But here’s the thing—so much time had passed since I’d last taken a class that I would now have to re-apply. I was resigned. Maybe this was a path I was never meant to pursue.

And then the email. 
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