January 30, 2011

A Few Pick Me Ups

Every time circumstances {negative thoughts} press in on you, say, "Speak, Lord," and make time to listen. ~Oswald Chambers

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~Paul, 2 Corinthians 10

"Doubt{negative thoughts are} is a thief that often makes us fear to tread where we might have won." William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Playwright, Poet, Actor

My soul magnifies the Lord...for He has done great things for me. ~Mary, mother of Jesus, Luke 1

What goes on in your mind is invisible to other people. But I read your thoughts continually, searching for evidence of trust in Me. ~Sarah Young, "Jesus Calling"

{Another one of my favs, Shawn McDonald! All I Need}

January 29, 2011

Nail Biter

Her nails spoke a thousand stories. Others' stories.

The tops were stained with other's nail polish as if dipped in a bag of melted Skittles. Shreds of cotton mingled with murky clumps of dirt under her nails. Torn and jagged, her nails proved her tender intricate care of others' nails.

Gingerly she pushed back and cut off dead skin. Gently she cleaned dirt from under the beds. Gracefully she shaped and molded raw edges.

Her ragged, tarnished nails morphed mine into lovely even squares. Perfectly covered in a new coat of dainty pink, the only trace of my once bedraggled nails lay upon her nails.

Then and there Jesus said what should have been so obvious to me: He alone takes our sin upon Himself and transforms our shame into our story. He takes the raw edges and smooths them. Old sheds its layers to reveal new at His command.

In fact.... Isaiah 53 share this wonderful truth, "The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."

So it leads me to wonder.... why won't I hold onto that peace and healing? Why do I ruminate over past sin and tote condemnation around? Why do I let judgey thoughts rule the roost? Why do I give shame two square inches in my mind?

We've been talking about jumping off negative trains {of thought} . Few trains are harder to jump off than the train of letting go of shame, guilt and other bullying thoughts. Yet staying on that train makes as much sense as biting our nails before leaving the manicure chair. Or digging in mud. Or banging them against rocks.

Entertaining thoughts that we are dirty, shameful, no good, disgusting, unlovable racks our souls through the mud, ignoring the beautiful sanctifying work completed for us on the Cross.

Friend, not one of my words can convince you to jump off the train and let go of self condemnation. But one word from God can. So I'm signing off tonight with His words to jump on board with. Write them on the tablet of your heart so when shame and condemning thoughts attempt to take you hostage on their train {of thought} and beat you up, God's words will fight on your behalf.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. " ~Isaiah 1:18

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. ~Song of Solomon 4:7

{My fav guys! Shane and Shane: Beauty for Ashes}

My prayer for you: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. ~2 Thess. 2

January 27, 2011


My sisters and I played M.A.S.H as doe eyed dreaming little girls.

Here's a blast from the past for you
lodging {Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House}
boys {Andrew, Jeremy, Christopher, and Garret}
cars {Ferrari, Mustang, Hatchback, Wheel Barrow}
number of kids {2, 4, 17, 23}

Two of each category we swooned over. One was iffy. And the last: gag me with a spoon!

Round and round and round we'd go as we counted and crossed out the boy, car, kids, or lodging we landed on. A perfect M.A.S.H. game landed Mr. Stud Muffin swinging out of our mansion's driveway with me and our four kids for a drive in the country. Most times though, Mr. Cootie Pants toted our 23 young'ns, jalopy style, as we puttered around our shack.

The distinct sting of letting go of what I {thought} I wanted pricked my elementary heart.

If I'm honest, I have a grown-up M.A.S.H. list too. I go round and round, trying to make the options I {think} I want work. Even when the Lord is saying, "Mmm... please let go of that option, that option and that one too. I have good plans for you and got this in control."

And my grown up heart feels the distinct sting of letting go.

The hurt is real when we let go. What's more real is a God who redeems the hurt.

And that is the train of thought I remind myself to jump aboard when the hurt throws confusion and doubt my way.

Abraham was a man familiar with letting go without holding on to the negative train {of thought}. One particular instance of his humble obedience moves me. Not once, but twice, he was asked to let go of his first born, Ishmael. Abraham did so, trusting {past experience probably helped here} in God's redemptive plan.

"The matter gave great pain to Abraham—after all, Ishmael was his son. But God spoke to Abraham, 'Don't feel badly about the boy and your maid... be assured that I'll also develop a great nation from him—he's your son, too.'" {Genesis 21}

Don't you love God's immediate redemption?

I particularly appreciate how Matthew Henry characterizes Abraham's response:

"Abraham’s obedience to the divine command in this matter was submissive; it was contrary to his judgment, at least to his own inclination, to do it; yet as soon as he perceives that it is the mind of God he makes no objections, but silently does as he is bidden, as one trained up to an implicit obedience."

Sometimes when the Lord asks us to let go of what our heart desires, it won't make sense. What does make sense is remembering and thinking of the promises of the Lord and His grand redemption. Letting go is a hefty, weighty thing. Let's spend a few days on it. Today, let's sit with the Lord, asking Him to show us what, if anything, He's asking us to take off our M.A.S.H. list and let go off. And follow that up by asking for His hope and promise of redemption.

I'm praying for y'all!!

January 25, 2011

What's Your Buttercup Verse?

"Stay close to the house and do not go in the woods," Robin's mom cautioned us.

Minutes later her words flew out of our five year old heads and we flew into the woods. In no time Robin's house was out of view and nothing looked familiar. The reality we were lost set in, just as drizzles and dusk fell. We decided to abide by the golden rule when lost: Stay where you are.

So Robin and I sat our cold, scared selves down. Shivering tears fell as we discussed the possibility we may never be found. We were Buttercup without her Westley in the dreaded Fire Swamp! A bit dramatic in hindsight, but a grim reality as a five year old.

We sat a spell until one of us remembered our memory verse from school: Psalm 23. We recited it. Once. Twice. Three times. Over and over. And we prayed for Jesus to rescue us from the woods.

I'm not sure how long we sat there, or how we made it back to Robin's (that was a loooong time ago for this ol' brain!). What I do remember is the utter peace that overcame us as we prayed and recited our memory verse. Calm chased the fright away. Hope filled the despair. Joyfulness resumed its rightful place. Our Westley had come and rescued us from the Fire Swamp!

After all these years, Psalm 23 is still one of my "Buttercup" verses when I'm afraid, crave peace, or need a reminder of who Jesus is. And that brings me to my main point--

Knowledge and confidence in who Christ is -and- in His Word, is key to replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. Somehow my little five year old self remembered and put this truth into practice better than my current self today.

Sometimes I forget He's still in the business of rescuing. When I forget, I am more likely to hop on those negative trains {of thought}. Maybe you struggle with this too? Perhaps our circumstances, relationships, weight, hope have changed or failed. The glory of it all is when all else changes, fails, is lost... Jesus has stayed the same, always prevails, and never leaves.

A beautiful place to start as a reminder of who Jesus is, is my friend Wendy Blight's blog. When you can, please hop over and soak in her utterly beautiful words {Warning: you may find yourself getting your praise on!}

Also, can I encourage you to choose and memorize your very own"Buttercup" verse... you know, one to recite when lost in the "Fire Swamp"? When you have yours, please share it with us! Thanks! I'm praying for y'all!

January 23, 2011

The Song Remembers When

How're you doing on your train {of thought} ride? Me? Today I was oh-so-tempted to jump on a train that woulda transported me to a promising time of talking about marriage, children and the future. Back to a time when Mr. Kinda Right swept me fast and furious off the ground. Back to a time when he serenaded me with a simple song-- "Our Song." And that song friends is what tempted me to jump onto that train.

That train travels down Sweet Memory Lane, but the journey ends in a deep depression that took a year to crawl out of.

Like Trisha crooned, the song remembers when. What she didn't warn was that the song will kick a girl in her shins and tear its nasty craggy fingernails into her healed wound if allowed to. Sister Hazel's lovely song Best I'll Ever Be captures my sentiments exactly.

Days past, I would've played along, believed that was the best I'd be, and stewed in the memories fraught with pain. All I can say is it's like when you have a toothache, but it still feels so good to grind your teeth... even though it hurts and is more damaging. (Am I the only one who does that??)

That inviting pain train caught me off-guard as I breezed through the radio stations today. Oooohh, girl! Let me tell you: I wanted to listen. To remember. To wallow. To think. Think negative thoughts, "He would've stayed...

IF I were smarter
IF I had compromised
IF I were thinner
IF my teeth were straighter
IF IF IF... "

But your accountability stopped me from jumping aboard that train of thought and I flipped the station. Thank you very much!

Remember that playground taunt, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"? Pashaw! False. Words from others injure; true. But you know, our words to ourselves injure a whole lot too. R
eplace the word "word" with "thoughts" and the same applies.

So today, I chose to turn off the song, turn off the temptation, turn off the thoughts...and jump off this train: "
A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips {thoughts} are a snare to his soul" {Proverbs 18}. And jump on this train: "The one who has knowledge uses words {thoughts} with restraint...The words {thoughts} of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. {Proverbs 17} & {Proverbs 12}

Hey, how are you doing?

I want to leave off with this adorable ditty sung by one of my most favorite {can't stress favorite enough!!} musicians, Phil Keaggy. Now this is the kinda song I can jump onboard with!

January 22, 2011

Sneak Peek

The first step in our new journey is undoubtedly getting off that old train of thought.

Let's be honest though.

Those old thoughts are familiar terrain. Like roads drivable with eyes closed. That's comforting. Even if their pot holes cause emotional.mental.spiritual.physical blow-outs. They don't fail us... so we take that same ol' fork at Negative Blvd.

So friends, our first step is to consciously decide "I am getting. off. that. old. train." Reject it. Stamp our feet in refusal to travel that way. Jump off.

I want to share a preview of the mode of transport we're going to hop aboard to give us something to look forward to. Consider me your travel agent and these words a beautiful, full-color brochure of our brand spank'n new train of thought

"I am"
{Blessed} {Chosen} {Lavished with grace}
{Blameless} {Holy} {Predestined}
{Redeemed} {Forgiven} {Adopted}
{Included} {Planned} {Purposed}
{Free} {Focus of God's love} {Hopeful}
~Ephesians 1

Read Ephesians 1 when you get a chance {in a few different translations}. May I encourage you to write down everything this passage says about you? Then write down everything it says about Christ? Let me know your thoughts!

We're in for a sweet ride friends!! All aboard!

It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. ~Eph. 1

January 20, 2011

All Aboard... A Tad Delayed

Hey friends,

Thank you so much for your thoughts about, well... thoughts! You've been in my prayers over the past week. Each and every one of you. I am excited to go on this journey with you and am sorry for the delay in starting.

No excuses, but this week has been filled with
out of town friends crashing with me
annual audit at work
sickey sickness (the kind ginger ale and saltines heal)
general craziness at work

Anyhow, can we start afresh next week please?

In the meantime, I'd love to leave you with words of wisdom from my friend Lisa Whittle. She's incredibly special to me and has a heart of gold. Plus, she "gets it." Watch her short vlog and you'll see what I mean!


January 14, 2011

All Aboard!

She rode the 7:30 a.m. train, 45 minutes each day, to class for a year. This day she was running late, so she didn't check the board to see if it was on time.

The train pulled up at 7:30. A flying leap through the doors ensured her journey. But not her destination.

One hour later she de-boarded that 7:30 a.m. train- in the opposite direction of her class.

She looked straight at the station attendant: "How did I get here?!"

"You got on the wrong train, of course, lovey!"

Christine Caine shared this amusing story tonight. Funny as it was, she packed a one, two punch with it. I want to share a slice of her encouragement. As the new year begins, I desperately desire freedom from old thought patterns. As Christine put it, I want to get on the right train of thought.

How about you? Any of these ring a bell?

"I'm such a loser. I'm worthless. I'm fat.

I'm going to be alone forever. I'll never get over this.

I won't let anyone get close to me again. No one will ever love me.

I'll struggle with anxiety all my life. I may as well get used to being miserable. This pit of depression is meant for me to stay in always.

God forgot me. Nothing good ever happens for me."

I know friend-I can relate to many too. Now, I'm no Pollyanna. Trust me... I hung up my rose colored glasses a long time ago. But we're meant for more than debilitating train {of thought} rides with a destination of worthlessness, hopelessness, sadness.

As with any ride, the first step is choosing our destination- choosing not to entertain negative thoughts.

Misery with its seductive lure loves company. As a frequent flier, I can attest: that ride is never worth it. So how do we combat those thoughts? We choose our destination wisely. We recognize the thoughts contrary to the Word and we "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

What negative thoughts run through your mind regularly? Maybe they're such familiar scripts you're not even aware of them anymore. Have they become your new normal? If so, it's time to pause before we get on that train and make sure it's headed in the right direction. This is something I'd like to flush out together over the next few weeks. James Hunter is quoted saying, "To share the gospel is to share the gift of life." I'd love to share the gift of life with ourselves by speaking the gospel {truth} to ourselves. Will you travel with me?

January 11, 2011

Dear Sam...

Every few years I journal to my younger self, passing on my hard earned wisdom {or, er... something like that}.

Here's a smattering of previous years' instructions....
*This too shall pass
*Send hand-written notes, just because
*Water your plants regularly
*Lean on the Lord and ask for His wisdom
*Don't dye your hair blonde again {thanks Sarah Bo!}
*Leave everywhere better when you leave than when you came (thanks Mom!)

It seems befitting to make a new set of encouragements, especially as we add a decade tick mark to the calendar of our lives...

Dear Samantha,

You're fresh and naive. Oh, I know you think you've lived, but trust me, you are green. Heavens girl, you're still in college, living it up like it's 1999! I know you're expecting you and Mr. Right are surrounded by a caboodle of kids and serving overseas by now, huh? Well, friend, God's plan doesn't unfold for us like that over the next decade. Swallowing this reality will be hard. But I promise, there are good things about all that not yet coming to pass. Here's a little cheat sheet to help you along the way~

{all bold words are hyperlinked}
*Say I love you every time it's on your tongue. Every time. No matter how much your heart races or how awkward. You will regret not saying it.
*When waters rise and hope flies the coop, don't isolate yourself from family, friends, God. You think you're Super Woman. News flash: you're not. It's okay to reveal your vulnerabilities.
*Give a little more than you think you have. "Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed"~Proverbs 11. That's gospel truth, sister.
*99.9% of your fears are smoke and mirrors.
*.01% of your fears will come to pass. They're doozies. They will try to knock the wind, the life, the faith out of you. You must hear this: Run to Jesus. No matter what the circumstances bellow.
*Encourage others. Rejoice with them. Mourn with them. Remember their needs, dreams, desires. Pray for them.
*Drop the pride. It's unlovely, distancing and doesn't benefit you in any way.
*Say "Yes" even when it's way out of your comfort zone. Even when you feel lazy or tired. Even when you're fearful of the cost. Some of your favorite adventures come from saying yes!
*Nourish and sustain old friendships. Cultivate and open your heart to new ones.
*Keep up your guitar lessons & pilates. Take ballet and surf classes.
*Weeping when you hold an orphan's hand is natural and a gift from God. Don't fight it.
*It's okay to feel joy in the midst of sadness. It's okay to feel sadness in the midst of joy. Remember, "The Christian life starts with grace, it must continue with grace, it ends with grace." ~ M. Lloyd-Jones
*Do not look at ex-boyfriend's Facebook pages. I mean it. 'nuff said.
*Be neighborly. Be kind to the elderly. Be conversational with grocery store clerks and wait staff.
*Make road trips a lot. Sing loud(er). Hike often. Get lost in beautiful things.
*Risk everything for the sake of following Christ. You'll lose a lot {even people you love}. But sweetie, it's worth it. I promise. Better yet, He promises.
*Love well.

There are a zillion more things I'd love to share with you, but this is a good start. Above all, protect your relationship with the Lord. All else will fall in place. And memorize scripture. It's a lifeline you'll need more than you know.

~Cheering you on, Your Older Self

What would YOU write to your younger self? Let's link up and share!!
I thought it'd be fun to start the New Year with a blog carnival! Here's what you do. Write a "Dear Younger Self" post. Post it on your blog, then come back here and add your post's URL in the Mr. Linky box!

January 10, 2011


There are strawberries in my refrigerator.

So? you might be thinking.

Soooo....I haven't eaten a strawberry in 19 years. If I do, this happens.

Avoidance at all costs is never really an issue. Until today. Chalk it up to being snowed in, vitamin C deficiency, thirst, what have you. I. Want. Those. Strawberries.

They are nestled in the confines of said fridge as a surprise for a friend. Said snow has impeded delivery to said friend. What's a girl to do when the sweet, juicy delight of a strawberry is beckoning? She grumps around her kitchen, flings the knife draw open and slices up a dull, dry, boring pear.

A pear that will not close her throat. Swell her lips and eyes. Itch her face. A pear that will heal, not harm. And she leaves the strawberries and their adverse effects. They aren't hers anyhow.

If only all of life's choices were as simple as choosing between fruits. What's a girl to do when she faces really big choices? Choices her dirt self crumble under the weight of. Choices her clay self breaks over. Choices her dry bones shatter into dust from.

She begs Wisdom to keep her wits for her. She pleads with Strength to sustain her grip on what is right. She employs Mercy to swab healing balm on her breaking heart.

She resolves day by day, minute by minute, to choose the seemingly dull, dry and boring. Because it's right. Healthy. Hers.

I'm resolving this year to choose what is right. To turn from those things that are harmful for {my heart; my body; my mind; my family; my relationships}. No matter how temptingly delightful they seem. How about you? Is there an area in your life {body, mind, soul, marriage, job} where the hard {but right} choice needs to be made?

One great way to begin moving toward those choices is my friend Lysa TerKeurst's book, Made to Crave, which my friend Melissa Taylor is leading an online Bible study.

I know there are choices before us that are {right} but are oh-so-difficult. Might even break our hearts. I know. I'm facing some in several different ways. But we can do this! Let's start this moment... and then the next... and before we know it, we'll be here next year relishing our choices together. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. ~Eph. 6