Screaming through closed lips

I have the answer to the question all of us wrestle in the depths of our soul. I’m walking around with the key to eternal life. I have the ability to provide hope to the hopeless and shine light in the darkness. How can I not tell absolutely everyone I meet about Jesus? How can I not share that this week symbolizes the entire purpose of my life as a follower of Christ? How can I not be joyful always?

IMG_1946May I be honest with you? Today…I wasn’t joyful. Today, I didn’t emanate the light of the world. Today, I kept to myself, annoyed by most everyone whom I felt got in my way. Today, I made excuses and rationalized my weaknesses.

Jeff Henderson made a statement in his message on Sunday that will forever stay with me, hopefully at the forefront of my mind. He said,
God is not your punisher, He’s your rescuer.
Don’t miss this. Read it out loud.

God is not your punisher
He’s your rescuer.

IMG_7819He went on to say, “If more people knew this truth not only would they not drift away from church or from Jesus, they would run to Jesus. They would run to their rescuer.”

Isn’t that a powerful word picture? Who came to mind when you pictured someone running into the shelter of the Savior?

This is big. Understanding of this one thing could change absolutely everything.

If I believe this, can I honestly look into the eyes of the postal worker stamping “certified mail” on my state tax return and not tell him about the peace that passes all understanding? When seeing the downcast demeanor of the girl behind the check out counter, how could I not tell her about my Jesus who rescued me from myself?

I keep within me this overwhelming gratitude for what my Savior did for me. Sometimes it’s so powerful I cannot contain it. I have to lift my hands or close my tear filled eyes and say out loud, “Thank you. Jesus. Thank you for saving me. I was lost, but now I’m found. Thank you for grace that saved a wretch like me.”

If grouped into categories, I would be with the worst kind of sinners. There are “Christians” I know who would not be associated with me in an effort to protect and promote their own reputation. And yet, the Savior of the world calls me by name and reminds me that I am his chosen one. Was I the only human being in need of saving, still he would have died the most gruesome of deaths to rescue me from eternal darkness.

It’s almost too much for my brain to comprehend. It certainly isn’t deserved or earned. I want everyone to know this God…the God of my rescue.

What if, just this week, we viewed him this way?
What if, just this week, we approached the throne of grace with a new-found hope and praise on our lips.
What if, just this week, we embraced the sacrifice and acknowledged that the maker of heaven and earth paid the ultimate price for our freedom because…He thinks we’re worth it.

The King has paid my ransom and by his wounds…I am healed.Face and Cross

To listen to Jeff’s message click HERE
To check out the entire series #WhyInTheWorld click HERE

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The Ugly Side of Truth

What I say, “I would write even if I only had one person reading.”
What I mean, “I love when I hear that someone has connected with my writing. I hope I have 10,000 more just like them.

What I say, “The number of followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, my blog…doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m reaching the person who needs to be reached.
What I mean, “I love affirmation! When I see the number of followers steadily rise it gives me a rush. When I see the number go down it makes me wonder what those people didn’t like about my message.

What I say, “I write as an expression, never paying mind to what people might think when they read my thoughts.” (I literally just laughed out loud at the absurdity of this comment while typing it.)
What I mean, “I hope this changes someone’s life and makes me the hero.

The more “followers” I have, the more I
The more you “confirm” my value, the more I want to hear.
The more “likes” clicked on my status, the more validated I appear.
I want you to think I’m a wonderful person with an endless capacity for charity.
Truth be told, was it not for grace, you would see the wretched person I am.

I realize I’ve just completely sold myself out and admitted that I’m an affirmation junkie, a seeker of self, a slave to ego…then I add Jesus to the equation. I open my hands and ask him to strip away those things that entangle me. I beg him to remove everything hindering my spirit from walking closely with him. I cry out in frustration that I would allow myself to be the one thing standing in the way of complete freedom in my Savior. It’s exhausting!

And then He whispers to my heart, “Worthy, precious, child, if you did everything perfectly, what need would you have for forgiveness? If your every decision was selfless and pure, what need would you have for grace? If when you stand before the mirror, you are without blemish, why did I give my life to set you free? Some days I will give you moments while others will be hours, but not a day will pass where I will not give you the realization that everything good comes from me. Never a day will go by that I don’t show you that the breath you’re breathing and the next breath and the next are not possible without my willing them to be. It does something for your soul to approach me, recognizing your absolute dependence on me.

My journey has been one of gut wrenching pain, inexplicable happiness, bountiful blessing and tragic loss. I know the superficial feeling of superiority when surrounded by people of earthly importance and I know the sacred peace of weeping with a mother whose baby just took her last breath. I am both a woman in recovery who has seen addiction at its ugliest and a wife, mother and business woman striving to make a difference in the short time given on this earth.

I am learning that when my mind attempts to steer me toward self, I choose Jesus. Sometimes it’s just in the nick of time. I don’t say long, elaborate prayers. I don’t always drop to my knees or fall on my face (though at times that’s the only way to find reverence.) There’s no formal monologue. Most of the time it is a word or sentence. It’s simple enough for a child to recite yet powerful enough to calm my anxious heart, “Jesus. My Jesus. Not my will. Not my way. Yours. You are able to do far more than I could ever ask or think. You created me with great purpose and I trust Your plan. You have never deceived me and will never lead me into a place where You are not there waiting for me. Please drowned out all the noise that attempts to distract me from my real purpose. Unshackle me from the bondage of self.

Maybe you can relate to the confessions in this post or maybe you now view me as a lying, Jesus freak. I cannot concern myself with your interpretation, only with my delivery. I can only hope that by sharing my struggle, you will feel less alone in yours.

Need a place of refuge? Visit my friends over at People of the Second Chance. Get connected. You don’t ever have to be alone again.


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Easter Hangover

It was the mid 90’s. I was driving someone else’s car down a main road in the city where I was living at the time. Dawn was just about to break the horizon when it occurred to me. It’s Easter morning. I had been up for several days with the help of stimulants in the form of pill and powder and was now starting the brutal decent down from my high. I usually didn’t know what day it was so I’m not sure how I remembered it was Easter.

This picture etched so vividly in my memory… As the sun peeked over the horizon and poured it’s light into my eyes, tears ran down my sunken cheeks. “Easter…I wonder what my family is doing? My mom has already called half a dozen people by now exclaiming, ‘HE IS RISEN!’ while waiting for their reply, ‘He has risen indeed’ and will be preparing for Sunday service and dinner afterwards.”

I was 18 years old. I would spend 8 more years in mental anguish and self-inflicted torment before I surrendered control of my life in the rooms of AA.

Last night I attended the Easter service at my church. It was the best service I have ever been a part of on this important Sunday in the history of our heritage. I was sitting on the back row of the balcony and could see everything going on. Different kinds of people from all walks of life flooded the auditorium. I had a stressful time getting myself and 3 children ready to attend and quite honestly, I just wanted to check off attendance, hear the same old “Easter message” and get home to my pajama pants.

God had other plans.

I sat behind a row of several children. During the music I glanced over to see an adult holding two of the little girls up. They were fully in the moment with hands lifted in praise to the giver of life. “They get it.” I thought to myself. “I want to get it like they do.”
Our hands are lifted highGod wasn’t stressed out about what I would wear to gather in this place. He didn’t care if I stuffed myself into my spanx. It didn’t matter if I had make-up on or my hair fixed. He just wanted me. He wanted me to recognize His goodness. He wanted me to bask in His grace. He wanted me to see, first hand, faith like a child.

For those of you reading who have given up trying to change someone you love who is lost in addiction. Good. You can’t. Only God can save us from ourselves. You never know what God will use to trigger the desire for Him.

To the parents who have a prodigal son or daughter…They have not forgotten the teachings of their childhood. God’s got thisLet Him have it.

To those of you going through hell…please hear me when I say that the “Christians” who are telling you that it’s impossible to be saved while acting the way you are, just haven’t experienced the kind of lost that has seemingly swallowed you. We do the best we can with what we have and that is what they are doing.

When it comes down to the core of the matter…it is between you and God, my friend. You. And. God. He has the final say and only He knows your heart. You may be acting a fool. I did for many years. You may think God has abandoned you like so many others have. May I encourage you with this truth. God is exactly where he has always been. Awaiting your return. He wants nothing more than to bless you and shape you into His purpose. He wants to love you, provide for you and protect you from the demons that haunt you.

I know this first hand. I have sat where you sit. Maybe not in the same circumstances, but desperatelongingsearchingbegging…for some shred of hope. There is hope. Today we celebrate this hope called Jesus. There is life. Today we celebrate this life in Jesus. There is salvation. Today we celebrate the Savior named Jesus. There is abounding love. Today we celebrate the purest form of love in Jesus. There is peace that passes all understanding. Today we celebrate that peace through Jesus.

Now you know. I am rather sold out to this carpenter who walked the earth for just over 30 years. He never wrote a book. He wasn’t overly attractive. He wasn’t wealthy and His crown was made of thorns, but you see, He redeemed me. What was lost is now found. What was broken is now whole. Blind eyes can now see. He took my armor of shame and replaced it with a cloak of grace. But I had to hand it to him. He was not going to strip it off of me. I had to remove it, piece by piece. It was heavy and restricting. Now…now I am free. It was more than worth the exchange. I couldn’t always see it in the moment, but looking back I wonder how I ever missed it.

My friend, journeying alone or as a companion through the desert. My prayer for you is that, in His perfect timing, God will reveal himself to you in a way so obvious and powerful that there is no denying His presence. My prayer for you is that you will come back home.

If you want/need somewhere to turn that is “come as you are” here are a few great resources.
Central Online (Their motto is, “It’s okay to not be okay.”)
Buckhead Church a division of North Point Community Church (This is my 2nd home)
People of the Second Chance (These are my people…scarred…broken and beautiful)


Being mere mortals

Clouds over tombsIt took me 35 years to come to terms with the inevitability of mortality.
After Elliot died, death became real…tangible.

Many things changed that morning in May.

It has been my experience that Christians are afraid to admit their fear of the unknown outside the walls of a counselor’s office and sometimes not even then can we come to terms with the truth that we have this one area of doubt in our lives where we aren’t 100% sure God will come through.

Sounds presumptuous doesn’t it?

It isn’t meant to be. It’s the way I lived my life for over 3 decades while claiming to be a “Christian.”

I am now a Christ follower, which for me, is different. It’s personal.

When I think of faith, I picture Jesus. I see Jesus instead of a steeple touching the sky. Instead of perfectly pressed black robes and intimidating marble columns. I think of Jesus…in sandals. Bearded face, dusty clothes, tousled hair. I think of Jesus.

When I think of him it’s impossible to be afraid. As soon as I take my eyes off of him, it’s impossible not to be.

Unlike the wrath of man, Jesus is the perfect balance of grace and truth.
Giving up his mortal descent to be born of a commoner, live with little and die a brutal death beside criminals. He experienced mortality to remove all of my excuses.

When the anxiety of the unknown creeps in, I must remember the Savior, who intentionally came and died as a man. He could have decided it was too difficult and called down the entire heavenly host to zap his adversaries and escort him back to paradise in a cloud of glory. But he didn’t.

Instead he chose to be misunderstood, ridiculed and put to death. He experienced the ultimate betrayal and physical pain beyond human comprehension. I can’t help but think part of the reason he walked the human path was in pursuit of me. Maybe it was to calm my heart when I don’t feel like an omnipotent God of the Universe can relate to my everyday struggle. It is then I am reminded that he too struggled with “life.” He wore human skin and felt all of the emotions I have questioned.

When I remember this truth, there is no argument. The answer is clear. Be not afraid. It adds not even a moment to my life. Be not afraid. The days, at times, seem long while the years grow ever shorter. Be not afraid. The road ahead, though wrought with uncertainty, leads to the everlasting. Be not afraid. Evil lurks, but love has won.

Live with intention
Love extravagantly
Be slow to speak
Quick to forgive
Eager to learn
Be not afraid.

Does this resonate with you? Talk to me? Why are we so afraid of what waits for us on the other side of this life?

1-Minute Meditation: Merton Prayer

In Thoughts in Solitude, Part Two,
Chapter II consists of fifteen lines that have become known as
“the Merton Prayer.”

“MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and
the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that
I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and
you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”
© Abbey of Gethsemani
Thomas Merton
1915 ~ 1968

The Merton Prayer Translated Into Other Languages

Spanish Merton Prayer
Dios, Señor Mío, no tengo idea de adónde voy. No veo el camino ante mí. No puedo saber con certeza dónde terminará. Tampoco me conozco realmente, y el hecho de pensar que estoy siguiendo tu voluntad no significa que en realidad lo esté haciendo. Creo que el deseo de agradarte, de hecho te agrada. Y espero tener ese deseo en todo lo que hago. Espero que nunca haré algo apartado de ese deseo. Y sé que si hago esto me llevarás por el camino correcto, aunque yo no sepa nada al respecto. Por lo tanto, confiaré en ti aunque parezca estar perdido a la sombra de la muerte. No tendré temor porque estás siempre conmigo, y nunca dejarás que enfrente solo mis peligros. ···

– Thomas Merton, “Pensamientos en la Soledad”
© Abbey of Gethsemani

Portuguese Merton Prayer
SENHOR, MEU DEUS, não tenho idéia para onde estou indo. Não vejo o caminho adiante de mim. Não posso saber com certeza onde terminará. Nem sequer, em verdade, me conheço. E o fato de eu pensar que estou seguindo tua vontade, não significa que realmente o esteja. Mas acredito que o desejo de te agradar te agrada, de fato. E espero ter esse desejo em tudo que estiver fazendo. Espero jamais vir a fazer alguma coisa distante desse desejo. E sei que, se agir assim, tu hás de me levar pelo caminho certo, embora eu possa nada saber sobre o mesmo. Portanto, hei de confiar sempre em ti, ainda que eu possa parecer estar perdido e sob a sombra da morte. Não hei de temer, pois tu sempre estás comigo, e nunca hás de deixar que eu enfrente meus perigos sozinho.

– Thomas Merton Na liberdade da soli

French Merton Prayer
Seigneur mon Dieu, je ne comprends pas du tout où je vais. Je ne vois pas la route devant moi. Je ne puis savoir avec certitude où elle aboutira. Je ne me connais pas non plus en réalité, et le fait que je pense me conformer à Votre volonté ne produit ni ne signifie mon obéissance effective. Mais je crois que le désir de Vous plaire Vous plaît en effet. Et j’espère avoir ce désir en toutes mes actions. J’espère ne jamais rien faire sans ce désir. Je sais que si j’agis ainsi Vous me conduirez par le droit chemin, même si je n’en sais rien. Aussi mettrai-je toujours ma confiance en Vous, même si je me crois perdu et dans l’ombre de la mort. Je ne craindrai pas, car Vous êtes toujours avec moi, et Vous ne me laisserez jamais seul en face du danger. ···

– Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”
© Abbey of Gethsemani
© by Edition d’Histoire et d”Art por la traduction française

Swahili Merton Prayer
Bwana Munga Wangu, sijui niendako, nashindwa kuiona njia mbele yangu, wala siwezi kujua kwa hakika kwanba njia hiyo itakomea wapi. Kwa kweli hata mimi mwenyewe sijifahamu, na yale ambayo nafikiri nafanya kufuatana na mapenzi yako, inaonekana sina hakika nayo. Lakini naamini kwamba tamaa ya kukupendeza wewe kwa kweli ninayao. Natumaini kwamba ninayo tamaa hiyo katika yote nifanyayo. Naamini kwamba sitafanya lolote nje ya tamaa hiyo, na kamwe sitafanya hivyo. Wewe utaniongoza katika njia iliyo sawa ingawa sijui lo lote. Kwa hiyo nitnakuamini daima ingawa naweza kuonekana kupotea katika kivuli cha mauti. Sitaogopa kamwe kwa kuwa wewe upo pamoja nami daima, na wala hutaniacha katika hatari peke yangu. Amina.

Translated from English into Swahili by Sr. Christa Kimashi & Sr. Frieda Kisaka

For more translations click here

Related Posts:
1-Minute Meditation: Brennan Manning
1-Minute Meditation: Wendy Moore
Scriptures for a Sound Mind

1-Minute Meditation

“If we maintain the open-mindedness of children,
we challenge fixed ideas and established structures, including our own.
We listen to people in other denominations and religions.
We don’t find demons in those with whom we disagree.
We don’t cozy up to people who mouth our jargon.
If we are open, we rarely resort to either-or: either creation or evolution,
liberty or law, sacred or secular, Beethoven or Madonna.
We focus on both-and, fully aware that
God’s truth cannot be imprisoned in a small definition. ”
~Brennan Manning~

Brennan Manning is an author, friar, priest, contemplative and speaker.
Born and raised in Depression-era New York City, Manning finished high school,
enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and fought in the Korean War.

Qualifications vs. Motivations

How do you know if you’re qualified to have a positive impact in the life of another human being?

I’m no expert, but after observing and working with some incredible individuals who are changing the world one person at a time, while trusting God to provide what they need when they need it, this is what I have learned…

You don’t need;

A college degree
A passport
A car
The ability to speak a foreign language
A six figure income
To be a missionary
A perfect past
A membership
To have read the bible from cover to cover
A title
A 401K

You do need;


◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Don’t wait until you’re able. Your definition of “able” may never come. Open your clenched fists, releasing what you think is so important. Extend your open hands to the Creator of all things.

You bring the willingness, God will provide you with the ability.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us…” ~Ephesians 3:20

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you still follow the same way of thinking that you were taught growing up? Do you agree that one determined individual can change the world?

If you want to see an example of faith in action, click on the organizations below to learn more.
Sole Hope
People of the Second Chance
charity: water
Sillicom Vally
Jud Wilhite
Christopher B. Wolf