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till someone else comes along

When Niel's affair came to light at the end of last year, I fell apart. There are gaps in my memory of that week---parts I honestly can't even remember. What I do remember is this: I punched my husband. I cried uncontrollably. I spent hours unable to breathe.

I remember knowing that, in spite of my world crashing around me, I wanted to work through this. I didn't know how, but I wanted to forgive Niel. I wanted restoration in our marriage.

So I came to the States to see a counselor, and asked Niel to follow a month later to begin joint counseling. He came, but his heart didn't seem to be in it. He was distant, unapologetic, and disengaged from the process. It seemed evident that his mind was already made up. So I knew before he told me. But on that bitter cold day in March when he finally put words to what his actions had been saying all along---that he was leaving me---I fell apart yet again.

A layer of pain buried 9 years deep rushed to the surface. This wasn't my husband's first infidelity.

Twice I had chosen, by God's grace, to forgive. To ask God to restore and reconcile. Twice. And yet Niel still made the choice to leave.

His "till death do us part" really meant "till someone else comes along".

His decision left me completely broken. I've since struggled with feeling unlovable and undesirable. Not enough. Not worth fighting for. Easily discarded. More replaceable than keepable.

While cognitively I know those are lies, when someone leaves me after making a vow that they won't, it's really hard to believe that abandonment isn't always inevitable.

I hate that it's easier for me to believe the lies of man than the truth of God.

God tells me that I'm enough, lovable, worthy... just as I am.

And I want to believe Him above all else.

upside down

upside downI'm driving today. For however long it takes to get from Columbus to Atlanta. A long time. Syd'z is keeping me on the straight and narrow, and iPod is riding shotgun. Okay, I'll let Cathi ride shotgun, as long as she lets iPod sit on her lap.

You're invited to road trip with us, too. If you want.

I figured it's an upside down kind of day. (Remember how that works? I comment. You write the post.)

Your comments will come through to my phone, so I'm hoping you'll keep us all-chuckles all the way to the ATL.

So tell me something that would make me say:

That's what she said!

my eyes need to adjust

Jesus tells me that when I abide in His Word, I will know the truth, and then I will be set free. Abiding is not a quick fix. It means dwelling. Living. Setting up camp. Being content to linger. It means staying there until I know the truth. I picture it to be like when I step out of a dark room into the bright sunshine. My eyes can't take it. I have to keep them closed a while. Then I can open them, just slightly at first, and peer out of squinted eyes with a hand providing some shade. It feels painful and undesirable, but then... my eyes adjust. I can move my hand away. I can open my eyes fully. And I can see clearly.

Similarly, I need my eyesight to adjust to His truth. And that can only come from abiding in His Word until I know the truth deep down inside.

What truth of God do you need to abide in until your eyes adjust?

go home seeing

Jesus smeared mud, moist with His spit, on the man's eyes. And the man, blind since birth, came home seeing. I want to have the same effect on people. I want my words, actions, and very life to send them on their way seeing Him more clearly.

Sometimes, though, I cloud, rather than clarify, people's vision. When I don't reflect Christ well, I make it harder for them to see Him.

I need to remember that it wasn't the mud that made the difference for the man born blind. It was Jesus' spit.

When what comes out of me matches what comes out of Him, only then will people go home seeing.

give me samuel's ear

I love the story of Samuel. For so many reasons. But mostly because he knew how to hear the voice of God. Even as a boy, he heard God speaking to him. And he learned to respond to His voice with, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." God spoke. Samuel listened. And he put feet to what he heard.

Too often I approach God with an (unspoken) mindset of, "Listen, for Your servant is speaking." And while I know I need to pour out my heart to Him, even greater is my need for Him to pour out His heart to me.

Jesus promises that His sheep know and hear His voice. I've been leaning in close lately to hear every word. I don't want to miss a thing. I don't want to miss His words because I'm not paying attention or won't shut my own mouth. I don't want to dismiss what He's saying because it doesn't make sense, or sounds too difficult, or seems too good to be true. I don't want to disregard Him by giving more weight to the words of others.

I want to hear even His faintest of whispers. God shouldn't have to raise His voice to get my attention.

I want to follow closely, hear clearly, and obey directly. Give me Samuel's ear.

What's God whispering to you lately?

spiritual visine

"We let people dictate the framework through which we know God rather than God being the framework through which we know ourselves and others."

My friend Tracee wrote that to me in an email, surreptitiously tucked away in the middle of a paragraph. I tried to keep reading, but I couldn't. I had to linger there a while before I could move on. Because she's right. I've allowed people and the experiences of my life to shape my view of God, rather than the other way around.

Since people are fallible and hurts are inevitable, seeing God through the lens of my past makes Him appear far too small. Far too human. Far too unloving. I imagine Him responding like so many others have; I picture Him treating me the way I treat myself.

I see God with clouded vision. And I want to see Him clearly.

I've spent a lot of time in the past several months identifying my lenses. Naming them. Considering what triggers them. Pondering how things look without them. And asking God to remove them.

Because my lenses stem from wounds, fears, and insecurities deep inside me, this process has challenged me to be more vulnerable than ever before. That's been hard. And scary. But my vulnerability has been met with an intimacy I've never known.

God is so very good to me.

I desire to live with Him as my lens. I want Him to be the filter through which I see and experience life. That would change everything about how I think, feel, respond, act. So I'm trying to renew my mind, take captive every thought, and soak myself in His truth. I want to saturate myself with His character, His heart. The more I know Him, the more I will see through His lens rather than my own.

While I still fail miserably most of the time---old habits, they die hard---I am changing. Slowly but surely my lenses are wearing thinner. And He is coming more into focus.

My intention today, and every day, is to know Him more deeply and intimately. Because ultimately I don't want to be a better version of me. I want to be more like Christ.

i'll never be good enough

I often find myself more easily believing lies than the truth. I'm realizing, though, that sometimes what I consider lies are really just distorted truths. And they're equally deadly. I will never be good enough to please God. That's true. But it gets twisted into something negative, when it was really intended to set me free.

The fact that I'll never be good enough to earn His love and grace isn't bad news. It speaks of my value, not of my lack of value. Even though I'm not good enough, He still chooses me, loves me, pursues me, uses me. There is freedom, not condemnation, in that. It speaks of how overwhelmingly unconditional His love for me is.

But the very truth that was intended to set me free gets used by the enemy---and people---to beat me down. It gets distorted and manipulated into something that tells me I need to strive for His love. It makes me feel like I have to work harder, be better, do more.

But the fact remains: I can never be good enough. That means I need to trust Him alone. It takes the pressure off me completely.

It frees me to live not for His approval but from His approval.

And that changes everything.

crawling back onto the altar

"To live a life of prayer, of sacrifice, of surrender to God."

Twelve years ago I penned those words as my life mission statement. I wanted to be intentional about making my life count for something greater than me. I wanted to be deliberate about leveraging my life for His glory. And everything I could see myself doing boiled down to that simple statement.

I said simple, not easy. 'Cause it's been anything but easy.

Those words have been ringing in my ears this past week. Prayer, sacrifice, surrender to God. Do I still mean it?

I want to say I'm willing, even when I don't know what He's asking me to do. I want to follow Him even when I don't know which way He wants me to go. I want to serve Him even when it means giving up my own notions of how I can best do that. I want to honor and glorify Him with every breath, every word, every step.

The only problem with being a living sacrifice is my tendency to crawl off the altar. When I can't see what's next, when the flames of uncertainty seem too much for me to bear, sometimes I climb off. I choose to follow fear instead of faith. I long for the certainties of Egypt over the uncertainties of freedom.

But I'm done. Today I'm climbing back on the altar.

The Lord Himself goes before me and will be with me. Among all the unknowns and uncertainty, He is already there. He knows. He is certain. So if I remain in Him, I can have confidence and peace even when facing more uncertainties than ever before in my life.

As I've ruminated on it and wrestled through it, I know this much is true: I still want each moment of my life to be one of prayer, of sacrifice, of surrender to God.

Use me however You want, God. However You want.


I bet you didn't know I've been in a pageant. But not the kind you're probably thinking of. I've never strut around in a bikini and heels, or shown off some obscure talent, or publicly declared my desire for world peace.  No, I've never been in that kind of pageant.

My life has been a pageant of a different kind. One in which I've been crowned all sorts of things other than Miss America. I've worn banners draped across my chest that read:


Or how about:


I've walked around wearing those banners for far too long. They've shaped how others see me and, more importantly, how I see myself.

It's time to take them off and replace them with truth.

His banner over me is love.

keepin' it fresh

Tomorrow is four-minute Friday. That means I start with Go and end with Done, and everything in between is written in four minutes. I typically choose a topic based on whatever's happening at the moment, and then just start typing. I've four-minuted about time zones, nicknames, and cereal. Music, hope, Isaiah 53, and ostriches.

Thanks to an inspiring housewarming gift, I'm gonna mix things up this week. You get to decide the topic of tomorrow's post.

So. What do want me to ramble about for four minutes? Give me as many suggestions as you've got.

coffee talk: exchanges

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie..." And you know what? So have I.

  • I've exchanged His truth that I'm loved freely for the lie that I need to earn it.
  • I've exchanged His truth that He'll provide for the lie that I need to take care of myself.
  • I've exchanged His truth that I'm free for the lie that I'm still in chains.
  • I've exchanged His truth that He uses broken vessels for the lie that He'll only use me when I dot-dot-dot.
  • I've exchanged His truth that I was made in His image for the lie that who I am just isn't enough.

What would you add to the list?

And how do we exchange them back?

eyes to see and ears to hear

Mary Magdalene was overwhelmed and confused when she discovered the empty tomb. Her bewilderment only compounded her grief, and she collapsed into tears. As she wept, her risen Savior appeared and stood beside her, but she didn't recognize Him. She looked at Him; she even talked to Him. But somehow she didn't realize Who was right in front of her eyes. I do the same thing far too often.

In my ignorance, busyness, and sometimes just the emotions of the moment, I easily miss Jesus when He's standing right in front of me. I simply don't realize it's Him---ever present, ever speaking. My eyes can be so blind that I miss Him in painted sunsets and unforeseen provision. My ears can be so deaf that I miss His voice in familiar Bible passages and the words of a friend.

Mary eventually recognized Him. You know what finally opened her eyes and ears?

"Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'"

He called her by name. His voice---His tender, powerful, matchless voice---uniquely calling her name was enough to make her realize He'd been beside her all along. Her blinders fell off; her ears were opened. She saw. She heard. She knew.

I desire to see the Lord in expected and unexpected places. I want to hear Him in common and uncommon ways. I need Him to open my eyes and unblock my ears.

Jesus, say my name!

confessions of an adulteress

I’ve been so unfaithful. He has loved me faithfully, yet I’ve turned my back on Him time and time again.

I’ve chased love when Perfect Love stands before me, holding me in His gaze. I’ve chased joy when it overflows nowhere but His presence. I’ve chased peace when my completeness comes only from Him.

All He’s ever wanted is my heart, and I’ve kept it tightly in my own hands as if I could care for it better.

He is jealous for me, and all I’ve been jealous for is everything I think I’m missing out on.

Even as I’ve pushed Him away, His everlasting arms have never stopped holding me.

He’s been nothing but faithful, despite my faithless heart and wandering ways.

Even amid the adultery of my heart, I hear His tender voice calling. Seek My face. I lift my eyes. I want to see Him, and be seen by Him. Unashamed of my nakedness and brokenness, I want to see and be seen. Know and be known. Understand and be understood. Love and be loved.





His compassion overwhelms me. His ever-faithful love consumes me. His mercy breaks up the unplowed ground of my heart’s back forty.

I am His.

Always have been; always will be.

He is mine.

And by His grace, my heart will stay more faithful to Him today than it did yesterday.

ht: Hosea


What are you known for? My husband is notorious for asking that question when we visit a restaurant. He wants to know what's uniquely theirs that keeps people coming back for more. And then he usually orders it. He wants to taste and see for himself.

Sometimes it's bit him in the butt. Like the time in Sicily he ended up with an entire fish---bones, head, insides, and all! But most of the time he really enjoys whatever it is they're known for.

I've been thinking lately about his famous question---but in the context of me. What am I known for?

I could easily tell you what I want to be known for. But what I actually am? That takes some more thinking. I think it's a question worth knowing the answer to, though.

How about you? What are you known for?

Maybe it's your contagious laughter, or your gentle spirit. Perhaps it's your loyalty, your passion for God, or your spontaneity. It could be your authenticity, or your love of baking. Or even your much-applied minty lip gloss.

Ruminate for a minute, and then let us know what you think. I'll be back later to answer the question for myself.

What are you known for?

Feel free to answer anonymously.

face time

Have you seen Dentyne's current ad campaign?

I think it's sheer creative genius. Mostly because it deeply resonates with people. And while it doesn't make me want to blow bubbles with Dentyne gum, it does make me want to put down my laptop and enjoy some face time.

Living in Africa for over a decade, the internet has been my life source for connections. Most of my friendships have never been sustained with phone calls, coffee dates, lunches, or visits. Instead, they've been cultivated with emails, instant messages, blogging, and video chats.

Lately I've heard a lot of dialogue about whether or not community can be found online. This much I know is true: It can. I'm grateful for the rich, genuine friendships that I've fostered over the internet.

But while I appreciate the value of "technologically advanced" friendships, I also recognize the significance of what I've missed in actual face time. A text message communicates far less than a long, tight hug. A phone call pales in comparison with the unspoken expressions of a glance or a touch. An online chat is merely a shadow of a chai-in-hand conversation on a coffee shop couch.

I'll always be grateful for whatever form of connection and affection I'm blessed to have. But whenever possible, please can I have some face time?

'Cause, seriously... What I wouldn't give for a hug like this today---


meet dwayne

There's a certain Starbucks I visit fairly often, usually for hours on end with my laptop, journal, or Bible coming along for company. And there's a certain older gentleman who visits there just as regularly as I do. Dwayne's guaranteed to be found reading a newspaper, playing sudoku, or taking a nap in the middle of either. The other day I pit-stopped in a Starbucks on the complete other side of town. As I pulled into the parking lot, I spotted a familiar face enjoying a smoke outside. What was Dwayne doing here?!

"I feel like I've been caught cheating on my wife," he said when he saw me. He chuckled; I looked away and smiled.

In a strange city where I know practically no one, I was caught off guard by running into someone I "know". Made me realize just how long I've actually been here, and the fact that three months is a pretty long temporary.

I'm back in my usual Bux today after a bit of a hiatus. And Dwayne's not here. I wonder where he is, and if he's okay.

And I wonder if he's wondered the same about me.