All posts filed under: Devotional

Criticism’s Antidote

After it happened, I began to lecture myself on all the ways I could have better prepared for such a moment. “How could this have been easier?” is the question I posed. I thought through all I’d failed to do that morning. I hadn’t showered. Hadn’t cleaned-up from breakfast. As for my quiet time. Well, I was gracious enough to not go there. I might have limited my “on-the-line” time that morning. Even on days when I’m showered and ready to go, fielding phone calls around Abigail and Izaak is a skill akin to coasting to the gas station on fumes. Maybe coasting on fumes is just parenthood, period. I stopped my lecture to laugh again. It had been hilarious actually, and we had survived. And even the best preparation cannot prevent the dreadful sound of a diaper detaching. Izaak was sporting only a diaper. He’d been stripped of his breakfast attire, which smelled of maple syrup and felt gritty from all the pancake crumbs now stuck to the fabric. He’d been pooping. Maybe it’s …

Blessings, Not Curses

I never did muse about the “terrible twos,” that phrase I loathe as much as the warning, “just wait until she’s a teenager.” I happen to love teenagers. And I wasn’t so bad. (Right, Mom and Dad?) And who’s to say that my daughter will end up like the worst teenager you ever strived to avoid? No. We ought to speak blessings, not curses, over the lives of others. Sometimes, negative phrases are shared with well-calculated intent, but often they fly out of our mouths mindlessly. We say them because society generally accepts them as truth. Most healthy two-year-olds happily explore life on a day-to-day basis only to discover boundaries. Boundaries tend to infuriate the folks who do not expect them. Tantrums happen. It’s an emotional time of growth. (Oh, but bless the gift of growth!) We coin “terrible twos” to make light of an otherwise unsettling phase. Such phrases, when applied too liberally, take root. The negative nature of such phrases sprout ugly lies. These lies wheedle through our “comedic” attempts and make unsettling …

Vision for the Mission

Of all the footage, dialogue, and shared memories, the Moon, white in the blue Florida sky, framed by an Apollo 11 cockpit window, is my favorite. As a few lucky men await a fiery launch into their future and our history, battling the inner turmoil that must accompany even the bravest of pioneers, a vision of their mission floats visibly and reassuringly in broad daylight. Anyone can have a noble mission, but do you have vision? Proverbs 29:18 tells us of the significance of vision. Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. In no game of Taboo is the word “happy” listed beneath the word “law.” Yet, we know that “all the Law and all the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:35-40). The heart of God’s law is love, which begets joy. How can we ensure joy on our journeys? How can we stay focused on the mission to love God and others? Solomon recommends vision. Vision: the ability …

Humble Pie at the Playskool Kitchen

One dog forgets his size while the other requires an escort to the backyard. Rufus and Scout. Amplifiers of chaos. Two extra children to raise. When all hell breaks loose, Rufus and Scout are the first to get the boot. “Scout! Kennel! Go!” He’s too swift to spank; I tap him on the butt with the toe of my tennis shoe. He runs in the opposite direction. Hides under the dining room table. Freezes in the shadows until I finally get close enough to scoop him up and just carry him to his kennel. He’s gone in a flash. I give up. “Fine,” I say. “Stay out. Whatever.” You’re small enough to not frighten anyone, though your yap is obnoxious. Rufus at my feet – and legs and hips – turns in the hallway like a yellow school bus stuck on a one-lane country road. “Rufus, move!” When he, like a horse at the stall door, is on the other side of the baby gate, I can finally open the door to greet whomever. Or …

Try Again

The baby, hungry and in search of warmth, cries. The toddler, energetic before nap time, refuses a diaper change. The doorbell rings and sleeping dogs fill the house with barking. And un-showered, un-prayed me is so tightly wound I’m shaking. It did not bode well when I slept though my alarm, fell asleep nursing, and walked into my day, chaotic and without so much as a completed prayer. It’s Monday and it feels like it. But I stop later to shower and catch my breath; the hum of the hairdryer puts Izaak to sleep. I vacuum up dog hair while Abigail sleeps. It’s visible progress, therapeutic. A small step in the right direction. When I can inhale more deeply, less shakily, I stop to pray and start Monday all over again. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,     for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;     great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). His great loves helps me to stop, take a step back, and see my Monday from his vantage …

When You Go to Urgent Care for Alone Time.

I did not want to waste a sunny Saturday in a cold, sterile building, shuffled from one closed off area to another. Yet, my heavy head, stuffy nose, and lost voice begged I go see the doctor. I contemplated my options. But wait, it was Saturday. Which meant I could leave the kids at home with Zach. Which meant I could endure the waiting rooms of PriMed without complaint, for I had a scene rolling around in my brain. I envisioned myself waiting, alone, writing the minutes away. “Yeah, I’m gonna go,” I told Zach. And I left as soon as I could. The entire experience lasted approximately two hours – two sweet, long hours. It’s terrible to battle illness, especially in seasons already stressful. It’s also terrible to be forced to escape to urgent care, the mailbox, or even the bathroom for quality alone time. The night my chills heralded what would become bronchitis, I watched the stars above the tree line in our backyard and recalled the verse from my devotion that morning: …

Part 2: The Public Square

For a variety of reasons, I despise social media. Namely, I despise its ability to evoke the worst in humanity. It doesn’t take much for me to bite the bait, as it were, and when it comes to social media, the bait is especially alluring. An uncalled-for comment feels less impactful when posted virtually rather than spoken verbally. The format itself  emboldens us to say just what we’d say if we were bold enough to say it in “real” life. For the Christian, the temptation is to stand up for Christ. It is for me, anyway. So, my voice joins the multitude as I debate, debate, debate. I close the computer screen or close out of the app feeling disgruntled. Too many times my anger, whether selfish or righteous, fuels my desire to have that one comment that silences the rest. Proverbs says that Wisdom stands in the public square calling those who will listen to follow her life-giving ways (Proverbs 1:20-33). I imagine the public square is clogged with fools doing the same thing, …

Part One: Responding With Wisdom

For a variety of reasons, the Stephen’s story is not my favorite, and because so many Southern Baptist preachers love to camp out in Acts for months at a time, I tend to avoid the book altogether. Yet, here I am, studying Acts voluntarily. This time through, I found much to admire in the first martyr. In the next few weeks, I’ll highlight those things about Stephen which amaze me. The first is profound in its simplicity. In one corner, we’ve got the “Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia” (Acts 6:9). In the other corner, we find Stephen, “a man full of God’s grace and power,” who did, “great wonders and miraculous signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). Luke, the author of Acts, goes on to say that tension escalated between Stephen and these members of the “Synagogue of Freedom” (v.9). They began to “argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke” (Acts 6:10). That these …