Thursday, June 7, 2012

Second Chances

I'm sitting here printing out little Star Wars name tags and activities for my son's birthday party on Saturday. I've had a great but busy week and I still have lots to do before the big day. We have out of town company coming as well as tons of friends. You know, the usual. It's nothing you wouldn't do. I don't really feel stressed about it, mainly because of my new "I don't care" cleaning policy. If I can live with it on a daily basis, guests can live with it for a day. I will, however, wash the guest sheets and clean the toilets before guests arrive. There's about a 50% chance of vacuuming.

So this is all good and I'm happy but very tired. A little late on preparing my flower beds this year, I've spent the last two nights spreading 28 bags of mulch. Yes, that's 56 cubic feet. And yes, I just double checked my math on the calculator because I'm so tired. But this is still all good.

But as the printer chugs along, I print something that isn't quite right, tear it in half, fix the document, and print another one. Then, here is where my mind goes...

I can start over whenever I want.

I can, no matter what, stop anything and try again. The Bible says that in the beginning, God created everything by speaking (Genesis 1), and Jesus was the Word who caused everything to come to pass. (John 1:1–2, 14) So if you put your faith in Him, all you have to do is stop what you're doing, ask for forgiveness, and start again. And you can do this as many times as you need to. Why? Because we're human. And God knows this. Anything that is broken can be fixed. Anything that is wrong can be made right. Any person, place, object, situation, or idea can hold purpose through Christ. It's just that simple.

Through Jesus, ALL things can be made new.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

John 1: 3 (NIV)
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.


May 31, 2012


I slip into the Jimmy Buffett mindset easily. Not so much the part with pitchers of margaritas and waking up with tattoos that you aren't sure how that got there. But I have no problem with the unruly beach hair, no makeup, tank tops, and flip flops. Even tie dye. Can't get enough of the tie dye. I know, you're shocked. Take a moment to collect yourself....I've always been like this, though. There were even a few years in college when I was nearly devoted to this look full time. Fortunately there aren't a lot of photos of me from that era.

Walking along the beach this morning, thinking, I took this Jimmy Buffett thing in a whole different direction. To me, the concept of island escapism is purging all of your American Dream stuff, pocketing the cash, and heading for the beach. This would be preferably be a sparsely populated beach and probably in the Caribbean somewhere. Most definitely no more north than the Florida Keys. But then again, a Carolina beach would probably do in a pinch.

So you've sold your stuff, you find a cheap place to stay, and take up beach combing, surfing, reading, playing chess with the locals. You name pretty much anything that seems relaxing and you can do it because you have plenty of free time. This probably sounds good to a lot of people, but not to everyone. The reason? Not the fear of sunburn, shark bites, or random crab attacks...it's because...eventually...your money is going to run out.


I have a friend who once lived in a tree house in Hawaii for six months. She and her fiance at the time were beach bums by day and waited tables in the evenings. It hardly ever rained and when it did, they just ducked into a store or restaurant for awhile. They came right off the beach in swimsuits and cut off jeans and made just enough money to buy essentials in a restaurant/bar. The only reason they ever came back to the mainland was because her sister became ill and was dying and someone had to take care of her daughter. Otherwise, they may still be there.

So, what happens to the island escapists when their money runs out? Do they go back home and start over again? Not likely. They've now become accustomed to a completely different way of life. My supposition is that they will now survive on faith that things will work out somehow. They'll get a little job selling newspapers or carrying bags or carving things to sell. Maybe they'll find a hammock to sleep in for awhile instead of renting that room. It'll be ok. It'll all work out.

Ok, now you're saying to yourself...where is she going with this? Has the sun utterly and completely fried her brain? Maybe. I realize that only a handfull of people ever do such a thing but I'm about to make a comparison, a simile if you will. The island escapist is something like a disciple. He's gotten rid of all of his earthly things so that he can concentrate on himself. The comparison, with one difference, is that a disciple of Jesus would do the same, only to focus on following Him. And when times got tough, you would depend on God to provide for you. Isn't that what we should all be doing anyway?

I'm not sure what Jimmy Buffett would think about my use of his name and general island escapist concept here. But it really could be the perfect scenario for becoming a better Christian. It's far-fetched, I know. But you know you've thought about it. I know I have, at least more for the "me" aspect than for the Christ aspect. I think though, that I could make this happen, on some level, for a few days each year - maybe even for a week. And I think that's going to be a goal of mine from now on.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. ~ 1 Peter 1:7

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." ~ Romans 1:17

 The Shawshank Redemption


May 26, 2012


You know these guys? They're those little infant clams that you find on the beach, just at the ocean line. When I was a kid we used to dig for them for hours, finding a handful that we could keep in a bucket for the day, digging them up multiple times just to see them take out their little mollusk foot and bury themselves back in the sand again. It always fascinated me - the way a little creature like that with no noticeable face or limbs or personality could actually move and do and have a purpose.

When we arrived at Topsail Beach this evening, we hurried down to get our feet in the water so that we could enjoy those last few minutes before sunset. We would have gone even if it had been dark when we arrived, but I'm so glad that there was a little light left. As we approached the ocean, a couple standing near us shouted, "Look at the clams!" There were billions upon billions of these little gems, reflecting the twilight and digging themselves back into the safety of the sand after being tossed about by the incoming tides. I've never seen more than ten or twenty in one place before today!

After standing in one spot for awhile I realized that the clams weren't washing back up around my feet. I looked to my left to watch my son chase an outgoing wave and realized that there were still many clams, but they were washing up in patches up and down the beach. Within seconds they showed up around my feet again: tossing and rolling, coming to a stop, and quickly digging themselves back to safety.

Oh, how much we have in common with these little clams! Sometimes it feels as though the waves are just tossing us around haphazardly. In and out with the tides. Stop for a bit and gain some control. Washed back out. Close call with a hungry seastar. Back into the whirl. Stop. Dig. Repeat.

To the clam, this is just life. From day one this is what the clam has done. He knows no difference between a regular day at the beach and a hurricane. His cycle continues, his purpose is fulfilled regardless.

We, on the other hand, are cognizant of a mere change in the barometric pressure. We are affected, full on, by storms.

There is much to be learned from these little clams. Storms are really not storms unless you choose to see them as storms. They're really just another day at the beach...another day, another season, another opportunity to learn and grow. And it is all, most certainly, a part of God's plan. No need to fret. Choose to learn. Grow. Love. And carry on.

Luke 12:22-34
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the sparrow: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Sunday, November 6, 2011


Last Monday I challenged my staff big time. The assignment: Come to work next week prepared to share how you would explain God's love to someone who wants to know more about Him.

And of course, a leader can't lead well who doesn't have an answer of her own. So here we go...

In order to answer this question I have to take a bit of a step back. More often than not, the question I get is this: How do you know that God is real? We can't see him. He doesn't talk to us. We can't go hang out at His house and ask Him what He thinks or if what we are doing with our lives is right or wrong. All true. But the distinction here is that a relationship with God isn't about trying to reach him. It's about letting him reach us. And guess what...He already does every single day if only we take a second to notice...

You know when you watch that silly, sweet Hallmark commercial and start crying? That's God.

And you know when you just have the feeling you should check on your kid one more time during the night and find the blanket over his face? That's God.

How about when you hesitate for a second at the green light just to see an 18-wheeler barrel through the intersection? God.

The feeling that you need to go back and apologize to your friend because what you said may not have sounded the way you meant for it to sound? Also God.

Then, of course, there's that other feeling you had way back when you were ten and you took that kid's brand new pack of Garbage Pail Kids cards even though you knew it was wrong. Some people call that your conscience. Guess what...God.

The check you got in the mail that time for exactly the amount of money you needed to make ends meet this month? God. And maybe your mother. But mostly God!

Remember that time that stranger stopped and helped you change your tire in the rain? God.

And the girl at Starbucks who was patient with you even though you were crabby and ugly to her? That kicked your butt when you realized how you were behaving, didn't it? God again.

That gorgeous hot pink sunset? God.

The aurora borealis? How is that even POSSIBLE?? GOD!

The little heartbeat on that ultrasound screen? Whether it was a surprise or it took ten years to happen...GOD! GOD! GOD!

Convinced yet? If not...I've got more if you want to talk about it. I'll bring the tissues. :) Better yet, I'll take you to church and let you talk to somebody who can explain FAR better than I can. What I know is that much more than seeing or hearing God, I can FEEL God through all the amazing things that take place in a day's time or a life time. There's just no way that this universe has been coordinated so perfectly and in such stunning beauty by chance. There's no other way that timing is so precise as to put two people in the same place at the same time for the same purpose so often.

One more thing...if all of the scenarios above demonstrate God's love for us in some way...I'm here to tell you this list is only one grain of sand in the desert compared to the tsunami of love that God is ready to unleash upon you if only you allow it.

God is in every particle of air that we breathe. His love penetrates our bodies, our minds, and our souls...BUT we make the choice. The question is...do we let Him reach us? Do we let Him into our lives?

It's up to you.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. -Romans 10:13

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:16-21).