When We Don’t Have the Words, He Does

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I’m staring at the mountains rising up behind the screen of my laptop. The sky is impossibly blue, and the sun is shining. The breeze is cool on my face. It’s almost cold enough to grab my jacket. Birds are singing. Voices, music, and even some laughter are drifting over from neighboring campsites. This entire scene unfolding around me feels almost normal. Like any other day in any other time.

You could almost pretend there’s no global emergency going on. You could almost imagine it doesn’t feel like that impossibly blue sky might fall on our heads at any moment. You could almost forget the enormity of the grief and pain in the hearts of humanity this whole world over.

Almost.

I’ve agonized for days over what I should write for you. What words of encouragement could I offer to this hurting world? Every time I started, my words seemed to be painfully inadequate when held up against the light of statistics and headlines. Every sentence seemed sorely lacking. So I just stared at the mountains and the blinking cursor on my white screen while I whispered to the Lord.

The truth is, I don’t have the words our hearts need to hear. Contrary to what my Instagram feed might lead you to believe, I know I never have had the right words. But that’s not how I want the world to see me. I want to be seen as calm in the midst of chaos, stoic and courageous in the face of uncertainty and fear.

During quarantine, I’ve taken up cross-stitching. I worked for hours on a three-inch kit designed for kids. As a complete beginner, I painstakingly followed the pattern. When my colorful little llama was finished, I proudly held it up for my family to admire. My four-year-old was extremely impressed—until she turned it over and saw the back…

I’d love for you to click through to continue reading this post at The Glorious Table. Just click this link and join the conversation: https://theglorioustable.com/2020/06/when-we-dont-have-words-he-does/

Do You Know the Power of Your Words?

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on her face. As soon as the words rushed out of my mouth, I regretted saying them, but they tumbled out faster than I could pull them back. Once they were out there, the damage was done.

We were eleven years old that summer at church camp, and for the first time in my life, the “cool” girls were paying attention to me. Wanting to make myself more acceptable to them, I tried to distance myself from my closest friend. And when the line was drawn in the sand, I outright denied our friendship right to her face.

Even though we eventually reconciled, and she graciously forgave me, the shame of that moment still burns whenever it comes to mind. More than twenty-five years later, I still feel awful for the words I said.

I’m constantly in awe of the power of words. They can bring life and love and joy and peace. They can also bring utter destruction in a matter of seconds. “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt”? I beg to differ.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV).

If I asked you to remember a time in your life when you said something you regret, I bet it wouldn’t be too difficult to think of several times. I’m also willing to wager you’ve had at least a handful of hurtful things said to you over the years…

I’d love for you to click through to The Glorious Table to read the remainder of this post. Join us in a conversation about the power of words and how we can speak life into one another.

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Finding God in the Middle of Your Mess

“Wait. When do you have to be out?”

My friend and I were sitting in my living room, and as she looked around, she was thinking she must have misheard me. My family had been living in our rental home for two years, and it was time to move on. We were scheduled to turn in the keys in just four days.

Not one thing had been packed. Not a book. Not a photo album. Not a single fork.

“You have help coming, right?”

I mumbled something about it all being fine and that we’d figure it out. We were moving just twenty minutes down the road and everything would be okay. I basically said everything but the one word I knew I needed to say—help.

Because we’ve been friends for almost twenty years, she knows me well. My protest went in one ear and out the other. Within the hour, she had lined up her husband and set aside Saturday to help us.

My friend spent countless hours over the next several days cleaning out bathroom drawers, pulling long-forgotten items from under beds, and battling giant dust bunnies behind the dryer…

Please click through to The Glorious Tableto continue reading about how accepting help with a move brought up all kinds of emotions but, most of all, pointed us back to Jesus.

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Facing Down Your Gorillas

One of the benefits of homeschooling my kids is that once I’ve recognized my sanity is at the breaking point, I can spontaneously declare a field trip day. On one such day, when nothing seemed to be going well, we ended up at the zoo for the afternoon. It seemed all the baby animals were also over it and the mamas were reaching their own breaking points.

When we came to the gorilla enclosure, we were treated to a show. Two juveniles were having the time of their lives. They wrestled, threw dirt at each other, and chased each other in circles around their mama. My kids loved this big game of mischief and could not be happier watching those two get into trouble.

After a few warnings, mama gorilla had finally had enough of their antics. (Solidarity, mama.) The big silverback jumped up from where she had been trying to get some peace and quiet and lunged after her rowdy kids. Everyone thought it was hilarious—except my two-year-old.

All Abby could see was this angry gorilla charging full speed right toward us. Terrified, she pointed and screamed, “IS COMIN’!” She called out for her daddy and instinctively reached for his hands, practically climbing up his legs, trying to get to the security of his arms.

To find out what happened next and read how we all have to face down our own gorillas sometimes, click through to The Glorious Table here:
http://theglorioustable.com/2017/05/facing-down-your-gorillas/.

 

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What About Saturday?

Nothing helps you realize just how much you don’t know like a child’s questions. The approximately 1,200 daily queries from my ten-and-under set certainly keep me on my toes. If your role in life has brought you anywhere near young children, I’m sure you know what I mean.

My kids tend to ask their most philosophical questions after we’ve said our bedtime prayers and I’m on my way out of the room.

“Mom? What if you wake up tomorrow and realize you’ve been asleep for seventy-five years and your whole life has been a dream?”

“Hey, Mom? Do you think there’s Chick-Fil-A in heaven?”

“Mom! If I tell God a joke, do you think he’ll laugh?”

One night we were talking about the upcoming Easter weekend. I explained Maundy Thursday, when Jesus and his disciples shared the Last Supper and Jesus was arrested. We talked about Good Friday and all the events of that sad day when Jesus died on the cross. Then we wrapped up with the celebration of Resurrection Sunday when Jesus conquered death and rose from the grave.

“But, Mom? You talked about Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. What about Saturday? What happened that day?”

To continue reading about the truth that question brought to mind, please join the conversation at The Glorious Table. Click here: http://theglorioustable.com/2017/04/what-about-saturday/.

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What My GPS Taught Me About Trust

pexels-photo-134643I recently celebrated a major victory. It felt monumental. I almost expected the world to pause on its axis to acknowledge my accomplishment.

I made my way home without using my GPS.

I know this may not seem like a big deal to most people, but having lived in the Atlanta area for only a year, the GPS on my phone is always on. Without it I would likely end up crossing the state line on my way to the grocery store.

When we first moved, every outing sent me into planning mode. A simple trip to the park found me researching my route, pulling it up on my phone, and familiarizing myself with all the street names. I like a plan. I feel more comfortable when I know what turns are ahead.

After getting stuck in a few of Atlanta’s infamous traffic jams, I tried a new GPS app. It offered real-time traffic updates and promised to keep me on the best route. It was perfect. The first time I used it, I pulled up my destination, studied the route, and got comfortable with the directions. I had my plan and away I went…

To see what happened when the GPS lady went off the rails and what life lesson she taught me, click through to read the rest of the story at The Glorious Table. http://theglorioustable.com/2017/02/gps-taught-trust/

When God Writes Your Story

light-forest-trees-morning.jpgThe bickering from the backseat couldn’t dampen my good mood. We were setting off on our one and only family vacation for the year, taking our six- and three-year-old kids on a weeklong camping trip. It wasn’t quite the Disney cruise I’d dreamed of, but we had a good tent, a great campground, and my stubborn determination to make it an Instagram-worthy vacation.

Adventure awaited!

And waited. After eight long hours of driving through Georgia, we finally made it to the cool mountain air. Except the air wasn’t cool at all. It was 109 degrees. The record-breaking heat wave that drove me to walk my young children into the beer cooler at the gas station was relentless.

No matter! There was a beautiful mountain stream to splash in and a shady barnyard to explore. The kids had a blast, and I got some great Facebook documentation of our potential as future farmers. We held bunnies, chased chickens, petted horses and goats, and even milked a cow! Our first day at camp was exactly as I’d envisioned. It was definitely hot, but we were pushing through. I planned to end the day with the perfect night: showers, s’mores, and “Kumbaya” around the campfire.

We could smell the bathhouse before we even got close. An apologetic sign informed us a water main had broken and there would be no running water for two days while it was being fixed.

Two days of no flushing and no showers for people living outside in a massive heat wave. Throw in some barnyard animals for flavor, and it was a recipe for a smelly disaster…

Seems like a slapstick comedy? Find out what happened next! (Spoiler: a bear is involved.) God used this trip to teach me some valuable lessons and give our family some lifelong memories that we will cherish forever. Click through to The Glorious Table to read the rest of the story:
http://theglorioustable.com/2016/08/when-god-writes-your-story/

Connecting with God When All You Have Is a Moment

dawn-nature-sunset-womanOnce upon a time, I was an adventurer. I was fearless. I lived each day to the fullest. Carpe diem and all that. I climbed mountains and flew across oceans. My passion to share Jesus was a fire burning, and I wanted to spread it across the world. I prayed aloud all the time, whether in the arms of my dearest friends or with complete strangers at the next gas pump.

As time passed, though, that fire died down until it seemed only embers remained. I think I got lost in the haze of day-to-day life. Over the last decade, my adventures have consisted mostly of navigating Walmart with three kids without causing a major public incident. The only mountains I’ve climbed have been the lofty peaks of laundry I step on to get to the dryer.

When I became a mother, I think I hit a pause button on being me. I think this self-imposed hiatus is something to which all caregivers can relate. It’s in our nature to give and give and give to our families. That’s part of what makes being a wife and mom so fiercely beautiful. This system we’ve set up seems to work–until the time inevitably comes when we have nothing left of ourselves to give.

That’s where I was just a short time ago. Drained. Short-tempered. Exhausted. Spiritually parched. Easily frustrated. One day, I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d prayed aloud. There were the bedtime prayers and meal blessings with the kids, but other than that, it just didn’t happen anymore. I’m not sure why. With church and small group and Bible study and MOPS meetings, there were plenty of opportunities. I would just sit there, though, with the weight of the pause pressing on my shoulders and the heat of the moment burning my cheeks. It’s not like I thought my friends or church family would jump to their feet, laughing and pointing at me. Why was I so self-conscious? I realized it was because I was out of practice.

I was disconnected. In my frantic need to take care of everyone else, I wasn’t making time to connect with God, and that disconnect was spilling over into all the other parts of my life. My identity is found in him. Unless I am spending time with the One who created me, I am bound to lose myself…

This post was challenging for me because it felt very vulnerable. Vulnerability is scary but authenticity is so worth it if even just one person is encouraged or says, “Me, too!”

To read more of this post, please visit The Glorious Table:
http://theglorioustable.com/2016/06/connecting-with-god-when-all-you-have-is-a-moment/.

For Everyone’s Safety, Let’s Let Go of “Perfect”

The big red circle on my 2014 calendar was creeping closer, and I still had no idea what I was getting for teachers’ Christmas gifts. This season always creeps up on me, and I am continually surprised when Christmas happens every December. I wanted to do better this year. My daughter was in preschool, and I’m pretty sure she helped her teachers achieve sainthood that year. While they truly deserved a vacation, a thoughtful gift was the best I could do.

At the beginning of the year, we received a list of the teachers’ favorite things. I held on to the list and did everything short of laminating it to keep it safe. I obsessed over The List for an entire week before the Christmas party. I scoured Pinterest for hours, desperate to come up with something that would hold its own among all the other thoughtful, crafty gifts from room mothers who could rival Martha Stewart. How could I combine the teachers’ favorites into a unique and thoughtful gift, thus proving our undying love? …

To read more about how my quest for Pinterest perfection almost poisoned more than just my attitude, click through to The Glorious Table for the rest of the story!

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The Glorious Table

bloggerbutton_500x765Girls’ Nights Out are way too rare. Am I right or am I right, ladies?

It can be so hard to find the time, especially when you’re in the middle of nursing babies or potty training toddlers or overseeing homework time. It’s ironic to me that the very thing that could so encourage us in this season of life is the very thing that is hardest to fit into our schedules.

I’m talking about community.

When I think of the perfect night out with friends, I immediately imagine sitting around a table. Breaking bread or sipping coffee. Either way, I imagine conversations and laughter, maybe a few tears. Walls come down and relationships are built.

Community.

It’s a safe place where you can share your stories, let down your guard, connect with other people who get you. All too often, though, it’s just so hard to schedule time away from home.

That’s why I am so excited about The Glorious Table.

The Glorious Table is a brand new community blog that is launching TODAY! This beautiful site has been created to provide a cozy place for women of all ages, all walks of life, all seasons, to come together and have a place at the table. To laugh together, cry together, stand together in good times and hard times.

To build community.

And it’s open 24 hours a day, no reservations required.

Whether you’re up in the middle of the night with a new baby or waiting for your teenager to make curfew, studying for finals in your dorm room or waiting in airport lounges, there is a place for everyone.

I hope you’ll join us at the Table here: http://theglorioustable.com!

You can also join the conversation on Facebook (The Glorious Table), Twitter (@Glorious_Table), Pinterest and Instagram.