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Freely given

The salesperson put this little sample bottle in my bag at Sephora last week.

It cost me nothing more than a trip to the store.

It was unexpected.

It was undeserved.

Such is grace.

A larger version of the bottled grace is available for sale.


Real grace cannot be bought or earned,

Only freely given.

Undeserved favor.

From my sermon notes on Sunday:

There are only two choices. Either:

The sacrifice of Jesus accomplishes everything.

The sacrifice of Jesus means nothing.

Everybody hurts sometimes

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This has been a busy, crazy week. As most of you know by now, I spent much of my time in the virtual world helping to promote the release of Paper Angels, Billy Coffey’s second novel. It’s been an atypical week in other ways as well. Work has required that my husband travel out of town more frequently than usual, and the stress of single parenting–albeit temporary–has left me more than a little emotionally drained at times.

In the midst of a rather chaotic morning, I received an email notification for a post I had written last year. My initial assumption was that it was a spam comment which had made its way through the filter.

It wasn’t.

It was an author who took offense to the title of my post, which happened to be the same as a book she had written and claimed to have copyrights to. Mine was a silly post about ugly Christmas sweaters with a deceptively serious title (Y’all know how I am.) Her book, which shared the same title as my post was her story of child abuse and prostitution. In the comment, she informed me that I did not have her permission to use her book title as the name of my blog post, that “she would contact her copywrite  the following day”, and that “it was not something I wanted to get involved in”. She also stated that her (past) life was hell.

I could have argued with her, because the title is a very common phrase, and since I didn’t even know of the existence of her book when I wrote the post, my blog post title mirroring the title to her book was completely coincidental. For the briefest of moments, I considered challenging her, but sometimes the best argument is no argument at all. She was obviously upset, and challenging her would only serve to upset her more, especially considering the serious nature of her book versus the lighthearted nature of my blog post. I removed the post and sent her an email telling her as much. She sent me a brief but gracious email thanking me for doing so.

That brief exchange this week served as a much needed reminder that we all carry burdens, we all hurt, just because we don’t intend to hurt anyone doesn’t mean we don’t, and that sometimes we say we’re sorry not because we did something wrong, but simply because we didn’t know any better.

(Less than) Perfect

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A new school year begins here on Monday. Wednesday night was “Meet the Teacher” night at my daughter’s elementary school. Thursday night we went to the junior high to pick up my son’s schedule, buy school supplies (thank you, PTA) and find his locker.

There is such a marked difference between elementary school kids and those in junior high. Puberty tends to bring out the worst in kids sometimes. I know that was the case with me.

As I walked the hallways with my son, trying to walk a few feet back from him so he didn’t have his mother hovering over him, I witnessed a very big kid walk past him and yell, “MOVE!” My son just walked past him. I should have kept my mouth shut, but sometimes (oftentimes) my mouth is way ahead of my brain. As the big kid walked past me, I looked him in the eye and said, “You are RUDE!” As the kid made a hasty escape down the hallway with me burning a laser glare into the back of his head, I asked my son what his name was. “Mom, I’m not going to tell you. Don’t worry about it”, my son said. As difficult as this was for me, I let it go. Boys need to fight their own battles sometimes. Of course, this didn’t preclude me from staring him down when I ran into him in the cafeteria later, but that’s all I did. He avoided making eye contact with me like a cat avoids a bath, so I think he figured out I wasn’t his biggest fan.

I hate that kids are horrible to one another. I hate that adults are horrible to one another. But as much as I’d like to believe otherwise, people really do suck for the most part, myself included. That’s why we all need an abundance of grace–for ourselves and for each other.

My blogging friend Michelle has a very talented son named Hunter. He is an aspiring filmmaker who helped put together the following video. As the school year begins, I pray for peace and understanding for our kids and for their teachers. And most of all, I pray we extend a little more grace to each other–undeserving as we most assuredly are.

Puddy in his hands

The release of Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins and the public discourse among Christians before and after its release hasn’t exactly been the greatest public relations coup in the history of the church. And let’s face it, we can say we love God and love people until we’re blue in the face, but if we don’t back up our words with the way we live and the way we treat each other, let alone those who aren’t Christians, we probably deserve much of the bad press we’ve received. I’m not suggesting we simply agree to disagree and not speak out against what we believe to be bad theology or legalism, we just need to do a better job with how we present our beliefs. The world is watching us.

I’ve often said that you can relate just about any life circumstance to an episode of Seinfeld, and I was only partly kidding. Funny how a show about nothing seemed to have covered just about everything. In the following montage, Puddy reminds us how NOT to be salt and light:

(Sorry, you’ll have to watch the clip on youtube because of copyright stuff.)

What important life lessons have you learned from Seinfeld?

The obligatory Rob Bell post

I’m pretty opinionated here. Which is why I’m always a little surprised I don’t get negative comments. I mean almost never. In fact, the only truly angry comment I’ve ever received was for this post way back in May of 2008:

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Is it just me, or does watching a Rob Bell video remind anyone else of “The Chris Farley Show” of SNL fame? Here’s what I mean:

Do you remember the story,

when Jesus walks up to those dudes,

and says,

“Follow me,

and I will make you fishers of men?”

and then,

the dudes, like

drop their nets,

and follow Him?…

That was awesome!

Now before anyone shoots me a comment about how Rob Bell is just the coolest, most relevant dude of the 21st century, and shame on me for making fun of him, I’m not dissing the message, just the delivery. I only say this because I once shared this observation with a youth pastor friend of mine and he looked at me like I had just said, “Jesus sucks!” And let’s be honest…he does kinda talk like that! Thoughts?

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Even though I made a disclaimer that I was not dissing Rob Bell’s message, I still got the following comment from your friend and mine, Anonymous:

How can you crack a joke on Rob’s excellent video series if you’ve never even met him or even watched any of them? Maybe you were just having a little fun, but it defies all logic and makes you look like a ignorant babbling fool! I need to get back to my Nooma videos, you know, something that will actually add value in my life!

The ironic thing is, I expected a comment like that. Because some fans of Rob Bell are so completely, rabidly devoted to him that they go around looking to defend him from any and all detractors. At the other end of the spectrum, you have people who believe Rob Bell is the anti-Christ and a heretic leading countless followers to the fiery pits of hell.

And speaking of hell… (Excellent segue, katdish)

Rob Bell has a book coming out on March 29 entitled Love Wins which is causing quite a firestorm. Here’s a video trailer for said book:

“Millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message, the center of the gospel of Jesus is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus. So what gets subtly taught sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that? That we would be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good? How can that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news?” – Rob Bell

Predictably, many in the Christian community were quick to challenge Bell’s (presumed) declaration that a loving God would not send people to hell. Justin Taylor penned a blog post entitled Rob Bell: Universalist?, which John Piper tweeted prefaced by the words: “Farewell, Rob Bell”. It pretty much snowballed on twitter and Christian blogs after that point.

I’m not going to defend either side of the argument here. Do I believe there’s an actual, physical hell? Yes, I do. Do I think the entirety of Rob Bell’s teachings should be dismissed because I happen to disagree with him about certain interpretations of scripture? No, I don’t believe that either. Because this is what I know to be true:

Rob Bell is not

Justin Taylor is not

John Piper is not

Francis Chan, Erwin McManus, Pete Wilson, Vince Antonucci, Alan Hirsch, Matt Chandler, Matt Smay, Neil Cole,Tim Keller, Mark Batterson, Brennan Manning, Donald Miller, Mark Driscoll, Ed Stetzer, Andy Stanley, Charles Stanley, Rick Warren, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Lee Strobel, Joel Osteen, T. D. Jakes, John Calvin, Oswald Chambers, Martin Luther, C. S. Lewis…

are NOT

Jesus Christ

And their books and writings may inspire you or enrage you. They may cause you to question your faith or confirm what you’ve always believed to be the Truth, but they

are NOT

The Word of God

The Bible is.

And you have the same access to it as anyone else.

Equip yourselves to defend

The Gospel of Christ


“The only thing worse than the joke you don’t get is the explanation that is bound to follow: an explanation that, while it may help you see why you should have seen the humor that you so lamely missed, is little likely to make you laugh. It may provoke you to muster a sympathy snicker so as to avoid more of an already tedious and misdirected lecture. It may inspire a mild giggle of recognition, but it will hardly ever raise a real belly-laugh, which was the original desired effect. And so, here I go — me and a dozen thousand other people — trying to explain a joke that we would do better to learn to better tell. I am setting out to explain again why Jesus is the only true hope for the world, why we should put faith in Him, and what all of that won’t mean. I am collecting the information, selecting from what I hope will be usable as evidence, arranging my findings into arguments, framing it for presentation and recognizing that, while it may be fine as far as it goes, it doesn’t go far enough…

So, here I offer what is possibly the worst thing that can be offered: an explanation of a joke. And, what makes this more inexcusable than the fact that this is that, is the added fact that this is an explanation of a joke you’ve already gotten. I offer it anyway. I offer it in the hope that it might somehow encourage you to live out your lives and, by your living, tell the joke that I, in my writing, so feebly attempt to explain.

Love one another, forgive one another, work as unto God, let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts. Make it your ambition to lead quiet lives. Obey. Greet one another with a holy kiss. No one will argue with that.”
~ Rich Mullins

Editor’s Note: In case anyone’s interested, I thought I would let you know that I belong to an independent, non-denominational Christian Church. If you’d like to know what we believe, you can find out at our website. I figured if this turned into a theology debate, you may as well know where I’m coming from. Not that I necessarily want this to turn into a theology debate, mind you. Just didn’t want y’all assuming I was a Baptist. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

Chiseled by grace

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“If in your heart of hearts you say, ‘I try very hard, I try to be obedient, I go to church, I pray, I try to serve Jesus. Therefore, God you owe it to me to answer my prayers, to give me a relatively good life, and to take me to heaven when I die.’ If that’s the language of your heart, then Jesus is your model, Jesus is your example, Jesus is your boss–but He’s not your Savior. You’re seeking to be your own savior. And all your morality, all your religion–it’s all just a way to get God to give you the things you really want. And they are not God Himself.”

~ Tim Keller, The Prodigal God

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

The Good Samaritan revisited

Last Sunday I mentioned that Jeff preached a sermon on the Good Samaritan and that with his permission, I would write a post about it based on his sermon notes. This is that post. (The text in block quotes is taken directly from Jeff’s sermon last Sunday.)

Jeff began the sermon by showing this picture I had sent him a few days earlier:

“Isn’t it kind of amazing that a song that was made popular in the 1940’s would still be so well known that it could be the source of a joke for a t-shirt company in 2011? It seems like most of us can remember a time when “You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out…” I guess it’s all that repetition; there’s nothing new, so we don’t have too much trouble going through the motions.

I think the same thing happens with certain Bible stories. We hear them, and we’re sure we know what their all about, so we smile and go through the motions. Part of the trouble may be that so many of these stories have a good moral on the surface, and we get so used to hearing the moral, that we don’t look to see if something more is there. The story we’re looking at today has great potential for this.”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

At the beginning of this parable, a teacher of the law, a man who has devoted his life to learning and observing Jewish law, asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” I think it’s safe to assume that this guy wasn’t asking Jesus this question because he didn’t know. He was asking Jesus this question to test him. To see if Jesus’s answer lined up with what he thought he already understood.

In response to this question, Jesus asks him a question: “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

To which the lawyer responds: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

Think about that last line: “Do this and you will live”. By making this statement to the teacher of the law, Jesus is essentially telling him that he’s not currently loving God and loving his neighbor. He’s telling him he may know the the greatest commandment, but he’s not keeping it. As I read this passage, I’m thinking that this guy is pretty put out with Jesus. Who does this guy think he is telling me I’m not living right?

Jeff continues:

“Now the expert in the law is troubled. He wants to justify himself—literally, he wants to be declared righteous by his actions. So, he asks Jesus to clarify the parameters of measurement. “Define what you mean by ‘neighbor,’ and I’ll confirm that I’ve shown love to them, thus meeting your qualifications.”

Jesus could have given the lawyer a short answer. But every good teacher knows that it’s far better to guide someone to discover the answer for themselves—it just “sticks” in a much more powerful way. And Jesus is the Master teacher…”

Jesus begins to tell the story of the Good Samaritan:

“One particular stretch was ideal for an ambush, and was actually referred to as the “Way of Blood,” because of the number of people who were robbed and killed there. Having a character fall victim to robbers was really a pretty realistic scenario.

So as the man lies bleeding and half dead, a priest comes along, and at some point after him, a Levite does too. Again, this was a realistic scenario. They were both travelling the same way as the man who got robbed, which meant they were likely on their way home from working at the temple, which was in Jerusalem. Jericho was sort of a “bedroom community” of Jerusalem and many of the priests and Levites lived there.

For some reason, neither of these men stopped to help the victim. It’s easy for us to call these guys names and write them off as callous, uncaring, pompous hypocrites. But before we do, let me ask you: have you ever passed by an opportunity to show compassion to someone else?

Not just that person on I-10 with a flat. Maybe a co-worker who you know has had a horrible day (or week or month). You can tell they really need someone, but you’re just so tired. Or you’ve got to get to that meeting. Or you just have to get home. Remember: this trip was about 17 miles, and probably took around 5+ hours to walk.

How about at home? You know that your husband, or wife, or kiddo really wants to talk, or play that game with you, or go do that thing with you that they’ve been telling you about for days or weeks. But you just got home. Or you really wanted to go work out tonight. Or you’re wiped and you just want a little down time.

I can hear the priest and the Levite: “What if he’s already dead? And look at that blood! Either way, I touch him and I’m ritualistically unclean, which means I might not be able to fulfill my next obligation at the temple. I can’t risk that- I have an obligation!” Or, “I’ve got so far to go, and my family is waiting for me. They are my priority- Honestly, I don’t even know this guy! What if this is a trap? Whether he’s hurt or not, if I stop I could get jumped and end up just like him…

I mean, maybe these guys aren’t rotten. Maybe they’re just… human.”

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At this point in the story, along comes a Samaritan man. By the time of this parable, the Jews considered the Samaritan nation completely impure and lower than dogs. And yet, Jesus chooses a Samaritan to be the hero of the story.

But the actions of the Samaritan in this story can teach us three important lessons about extending grace:

I. First, the Samaritan was PROACTIVE.

As soon as he saw the victimized man, the Samaritan felt pity and went to him. He engaged the man where he was, without hesitation.

II. Second, the Samaritan got MESSY.

He jumped right into the ugliness of the man’s situation. People didn’t carry around first aid kits, so I imagine that he had to tear up some of his own clothing for bandages. As he began to bandage the man’s wounds, the wine and the oil that was poured out would have mixed with the dirt and the blood and it would have been messy.

III. Finally, the Samaritan GAVE of HIMSELF.

He placed the man on his donkey and walked the rest of the 17 mile journey. He took the man to an inn, and cared for
him that night. As he prepared to leave the next day, he didn’t surrender his involvement. Instead, he gave the innkeeper two silver coins—two Denari—which would have covered the victims care for about three weeks. And he assured him that if there were more costs involved in the man’s recovery, he would pay for them upon his return.

After telling the parable, Jesus finishes the discussion with the lawyer:

Luke 10:36-37
36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” 
      Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I can just hear the lawyer as he grits his teeth and answers the question. He can’t even bring himself to say the word “Samaritan!” So he tells Jesus that the neighbor was “the one who had mercy on him.”

So what can we learn from this parable today?

I think a lot of people would say that this story teaches us how to love our neighbor, right? Well, the Samaritan is certainly an amazing example of that very thing. But we’ll miss the big point unless we remember one very important thing: The lawyer’s original question.

He asked Jesus, “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?” The lawyer wanted Jesus to tell him exactly who his neighbor was because he was trying to be made righteous by his own actions. In response, Jesus tells him that essentially, his “neighbor” is EVERYONE.

Don’t move on too quickly from this idea, because it’s not as clear and tidy as we sometimes want to make it. Think of actually responding to EVERYONE the way the Samaritan responded to the victim.

You must be proactive with every single person in your life! Everyone you meet must be a grade A, number 1, top priority for you.

You must jump into the mess of EVERYONE you know. Bandaging their wounds, addressing their hurts. You must be committed to their complete and total healing.

Finally, you must give of yourself sacrificially to EVERYBODY. Physically, emotionally financially, you give until it hurts. To every single person you come in contact with.

You can almost hear the lawyer walking away saying, “That’s impossible!”

And I can almost hear Jesus saying, “Yes it is.”

“For humanity…”

Ephesians 2:1-10
1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Now THAT’S what it’s all about.

Final thoughts:

Looking at this parable with a new perspective completely blew me away. How many times have you heard or read this story? The obvious lesson is to love your neighbor, to give sacrificially, etc.

But there is a deeper message that I took away from this sermon, and it is this:

I’m not the teacher of the law in this story.
I’m certainly not Jesus
I’m not the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan
and I’m guessing you’re not any of them either…

Who am I?

I’m the man left for dead on the Road to Jericho…

and time after time in my life…

Jesus is The Good Samaritan.

Love. Live. Serve.

Why I don’t begrudge atheists

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Before I begin this post, I think it’s important that I point out which definition of begrudge I’m talking about. When I say I don’t begrudge atheists, I’m talking about the “to look upon with disapproval” definition, not the “to give in or concede reluctantly” one.

Okay, as long as everyone knows where I’m coming from, I’ll tell you why I don’t begrudge them:

Because I can’t prove with absolute irrefutable evidence the existence of God anymore than they can disprove it.

That doesn’t mean that because I can’t prove that God exists I choose not to believe. That’s my point. It’s a choice. People who choose not to believe in a higher power are taking a leap of faith every bit as much as I am. I can argue why I choose to believe, an atheist can argue why he chooses not to. And round and round we go. It’s exhausting and it just serves to widen the ever-increasing gulf between the two sides.

I also believe it is a mistake for Christians to dismiss all atheists as morally bankrupt and evil. To do so would be to ignore what Jesus commanded us to do: To love your neighbor as yourself.

Blogger and full-time missionary Koffijah once made the observation:How we view people is half of how we love them. When we dismiss those who don’t believe as we do, we degrade them and run the risk of believing that we are somehow better than they are. That is very dangerous territory indeed.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

John 3:16 is probably the most familiar verse in the bible. Recognized by by believers and non-believers alike. As Christians, we cling to the promise of this verse. So much so, that often we dismiss what immediately follows:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~ John 3:17

Christians lose their argument the second they approach an atheist with the intent to convert them.

Rich Mullins once said:

“I remember how I once won an argument with a heathen friend of mine who — after I had whacked away his last scrap of defense, after I had successfully cut off every possible escape route that he could use, after I backed him into an inescapable corner and hit him with a great inarguable truth — blew me away by simply saying, “I do not want to be a Christian. I don’t want your Jesus Christ.” There was no argument left to be had or won. Faith is a matter of the will as much as it is of the intellect. I wanted to believe in Jesus. My friend wanted to believe in himself. In spite of how convincing my reason was, my reason was not compelling.”

Respect their right not to believe if you want them to respect your right to believe. I think we witness to the world by allowing others to see the light in ourselves, not pointing out the darkness in others. Besides, there’s plenty of darkness and doubt in all of us.

Rich continues:

“I am a Christian because I have seen the love of God lived out in the people who know Him. The Word has become flesh and I have encountered God in the people who have manifested (in many “unreasonable” ways) His Presence; a presence that is more than convincing, it is a Presence that is compelling. I am a Christian not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be the nuts and bolts, who through their explanation of it, held it together so that I could experience it and be compelled by it to obey. “If I be lifted up,” Jesus said, “I will draw all men unto me.”…

“Love one another, forgive one another, work as unto God, let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts. Make it your ambition to lead quiet lives. Obey. Greet one another with a holy kiss. No one will argue with that.”

A Simple Country Girl (by Darlene)

If you knew me in high school, you would know not to ask what group I hung out with. I actually pretty much hated high school because everyone felt the need to belong to a group and not venture outside the confines of said group. I don’t like groups of people, I like individuals. But I’m pretty sure if Darlene and I had gone to high school together, we’d have been great friends, and probably gotten into all sorts of trouble together. Because for me, the best character trait a person can have is honesty–with themselves and with others. For those of you who don’t already know her, I am very pleased to introduce Darlene, a simple country girl:

If you don’t recognize me, I am the one who creates a lot of gray space in the comment sections here. Meaning I have a tendency to ramble on and on. Katdish just does that to me. I can only imagine that had we been friends in my small town, north Idaho high school, I would not have been alone climbing out the window during Spanish class. I mean really, the room was packed like fish in a can and oftentimes smelled like it too. Sometimes a girl just needed some fresh air…

Like the freedom I inhaled once I escaped the confines of an overcrowded classroom, Katdish (unknowingly) has helped me break loose of self-imposed blog mould I used to confine myself to as a writer, a storyteller, a patriot, and a child of God. Thank you for helping me be the wiggly blob of Jell-O I always knew I could be. She shares in ways that are real, biting through the fluff and fancy. And in doing so, she reminds me of me.

It can be a bit daunting when perusing in the Land of Blog. Over the last couple of years I have discovered some wonderful writers and so many refined and intelligent Christian women who really seem put-together, both spiritually and technologically. Uh, I am just a simple country girl who drives a beat-up Dodge pick-up truck and I used to live in a trailer, not once, but twice. Besides that, I wasn’t born into a Christian family and I don’t know the order of the books in the Bible. In fact, I struggle daily with dying to the very sin-filled self I made for the thirty-one years prior to meeting the Lord.

In addition, I have a really sorted and stained past…in school I wore mini-skirts and had really short, spiky hair. I had a potty mouth that would make a sailor blush. I used my fists to get my revenge after someone popped me in the face. And I did the same to the boy who abused my sister, plus I spit on him. I used to walk into a bar and come sliding out on my lips. So, what do I have to contribute in a place filled with personalized web sites, accounts that tweet, and blogs with followers? Truth be told, the answer is “not a whole lot,” unless God is holding my hand and showing me the way. His way.

My walk with the Lord began about seven years ago while pregnant with my son. Like most adults, I came into a relationship with Christ, not empty-handed, but holding tight to suitcases packed full of mistakes, regrets, and despair. Up until December of last year I had a story that wasn’t aired. Folks just don’t hang out their dirty laundry for the entire town to see, right? But when God handed me the basket of clothes that He washed Himself, I had no choice but to grab the clothespins and dangle the garments from the line. And to stand in my driveway with a sign, welcoming others to do the same.

Healing Hearts, Renewing Minds is a place inspired by God out of a very wounded woman’s past. My past. I spent twenty-two years heavy-laden with guilt, pain, and shame due to a teenage abortion. Oh, I never really expected to be healed of that wrenching heartbreak and the deep-rooted pain, shame, and unforgiveness. Actually, it all practically strangled me. Thankfully when I started walking with the Lord, He had other plans…

Friends, if you have any dirty laundry that you keep tucked into the hidden compartment of your life suitcases, I pray that you would meet God at the cross and hand it all to Him. His washing machine is really big and He guarantees complete sin-stain removal. If you just want a place where you can soak in some waters of Truth or some hearts to join yours in healing, stop by. I would be honored to hang your clothes next to mine.

Oops. Sorry. Scooch over just a bit, please. I need some room for my soapbox. I urge you to get out from behind the bushes and take a righteous stand in the political arena. Despite what any current bigwig says, men of God built America’s foundation upon Biblical principles. Folks, in these corrupt and challenging times we need more righteous men and women to stand-up, speak out, and yes, thump God’s good Word. After all, in Psalms 82 in the New King James Version, God calls us to “Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy” (v. 3) and to “Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked” (v.4). Our Creator most certainly doesn’t call us to sit on our phone-dialing fingers or stuff our letter-writing hands deep into our pockets while our God-given life and liberties are twisted into a moral-less mockery. Please do all you can.

I will continue to cut the fluff and share bits and pieces of my simple country life, even if that means airing my laundry on the Land of Blog’s clothesline. Thank you miss Katdish for showing me that is okay to be tough and gentle, that it is fine to be serious and funny.

Finally I know the Truth, it is best to be a real woman and a forgiven daughter of God.

* You can find more of A Simple Country Girl at Aspire to Lead a Quiet Life where she writes and posts photographs. She is also the founder of two ministries. Healing Hearts, Renewing Minds, a post-abortion ministry site and For the Least of These, an international photography ministry that financially supports orphans in Uganda. But what really floats her boat the most is being a child of God, a wife and a mother. Do be careful though because she also likes to laugh until tea spurts out of her nose.

The grace of a child

I was hesitant about sharing a photo of my son, but I'm pretty sure he's okay with me sharing this one.

I don’t talk about my family much here. Well, I do–I just tend not to get into specifics. I’m comfortable sharing myself, and obviously my family is a huge part of my life, but the last thing I want to do is share something they would rather I keep private.

However, recently I was asked if I could contribute a guest post for another blog, and this particular story about my son came to mind. I was pretty angry when I wrote it last year. Reading it again gave me some perspective. I am often guilty of assuming that raising kids has more to do with what I can teach them. More often than not, it’s more about what they teach me. They humble me on a fairly regular basis. For that I am grateful.

To read the story, please join me over at Tammy Patrick’s blog, Nurse’s Notes.

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