Wednesday, October 29

If These Walls Could Talk

I was cleaning out my closet several years ago and casually tossed a black and white polka dot dress into the give away pile. My husband Art happened to walk by and ask what I was doing.

I knew I needed to ease into this conversation because he’s not much into giving away a piece of clothing just because it’s out of style. His theory is if it isn’t threadbare, it’s still perfectly good to wear.

Plus, he no longer grows out of clothes. That pretty much stopped for him in high school.

I, however, have a different body type. One that has issues which require size options…especially around my thigh, hip, and waist regions.

And I’m no fashionista but if people start asking to borrow things from your closet for the ugly Christmas sweater party or a throwback to the 80’s themed get-together, it might be time to get rid of some things.

Ahem.

So, I quickly replied, “Just getting rid of some things we no longer need.”

“Well you can’t get rid of this dress,” he stated with great passion.

And then just as I was about to explain what birthing babies did to the body that used to wear that dress he continued:

“I mean this is the dress you were wearing when I fell in love with you.”

Needless to say, I kept the dress.

But it no longer hangs in my closet.

Let me explain.

This past summer, as I was preparing for child number 4 to leave for college, I decided to do a little redecorating in our home. And as part of this process, I also decided I wanted the artwork in our home to tell the story of our family.

I didn’t want to purchase things to hang on the wall just because they looked cute and filled the space with a decorative flair.

I wanted my walls to talk and tell our story. It’s not that our story is epic. Not at all. But I love tracing God’s hand of faithfulness in our lives through the ups and downs of our imperfect love.

So, when you walk in the front door, you’ll find the dress.

This is where it all started. There was a crazy city girl in a polka dot dress that caught the eye of a farm boy from Alabama. And then all this happened because the two of them fell in love.

This is the copy of the prayer Art’s dad prayed over us on December 5, 1992. I wore a long white dress I got on the clearance rack for $200. My little sister, who was just 2 at the time, sang “happy birthday” at the top of her lungs during the lighting of the unity candle. And the first morning of my honeymoon I had to brush my hair with a fork because I’d forgotten to pack a hairbrush.

The first year of our life together wasn’t easy or blissful. But one of the greatest gifts we got that year was this letter from Art’s grandfather. After describing in great detail the homemade biscuits and giblet gravy Mamaw had made for him that morning, he wrote what has become our motto for marriage: “Life is more than just the living of it. Now, go discover it together.”

There were kids and dogs and beach trips with sunburns. There were sleepless nights and tears and a hormonal wife that threw orange juice across the kitchen. There was forgiveness and flirting and days we just pressed through.

And we marked how they grew on the doorframe of the kitchen. The days were long but the years so short.

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There were old traditions and new traditions as we gathered around the sticky farm table. The food was never fancy but the conversations were long and linger to this day at our sticky farm table.

This is the making of an imperfect family who is still crazy about one another. So, I guess you could say our walls do talk. They tell a love story. Our story. My favorite story.

Friday, October 10

When Fear Chases Me

My eyes popped open and my heart raced when my phone buzzed at 1AM. Good news isn’t usually delivered at that hour. I hopped out of bed and grabbed my phone.

“Mom, police have my dorm on lockdown and are running up and down the hall shouting. I don’t know what’s going on but I’m scared.”

It was from Ashley, my college freshman daughter, over 7 hours away from me.

I tried calling her but the reception was so bad neither of us could make out what the other was saying. Texting was my only option so I asked a series of questions trying to get a better handle of what was happening.

My hands were shaking. My heart was racing. And I felt intensely helpless.

Scary images assaulted my mind with all the possible scenarios a completely shaken mama conjures up in moments of frightening uncertainty. I sank down to my knees and begged God to clear my head and give me the words to text that would help…

Have you ever experienced an intense moment of fear like this? Day by day, I’m learning that I can feel afraid but I don’t have to live afraid. I’m sharing what this situation with Ashley has taught me about fear over at (in)courage today. Click here to read the rest of this story.

I’m also giving away 3 copies of It Will Be Okay right here on my blog. Just leave a comment below to be entered to win.

Friday, August 8

Before They Go to School… Have This Conversation

I look around the dinner table and feel that desperate ache not uncommon to women who deeply love.

Whether it’s my own family or those who just feel like family, I want so much for them. These young people who are so full of possibility and dreams and bright futures… they have my heart.

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Yet my heart feels fragile in the hands of these young people. They are smart. They are grounded. But they are young.

It takes me back to me at that age.

And that scares me.

I remember feeling so grown up and crazy excited at the chance to be in charge of my own life. Ready for independence. Ready for love. Ready for the next chapter of my life.

Chasing what felt good and thrilling, I quickly learned the wind blows in dangerous directions sometimes. Going with the flow led me places I didn’t intend to go. And I woke up one morning ashamed of my choices, wondering how in the world I got to this place.

How?

I cringe thinking back on it. And I cry. Because I don’t want that experience for these people I desperately love.

So, in the midst of the laughter and casual banter, I turn the conversation at the dinner table to a word I want them to know and live.

Pre-decide.

Decide today who you want to be. In this moment of togetherness, surrounded by family, and saturated in love — decide.

Decide what your answer will be when the talk turns ugly and the laughter turns mean against that girl who desperately needs you to be her friend.

Decide what your answer will be when someone invites you to the cool party full of drinks and drugs.

Decide what your answer will be when the boy says it’s no big deal to stay the night.

Decide what your answer will be when “friends” laugh at your Christian views and challenge you to lighten up.

Pre-decide.

Decide today who you are going to turn to if you do get into trouble. Remember, the people at this table. Remember, who truly has your best interest at heart. Remember who you are.

Pre-decide.

Decide today to turn around any mistakes from your past by asking for God’s forgiveness and walking in His grace.

Decide today to ignore the enemy who wants to trick you and trip you and take you out.

Pre-decide.

Yes, pre-decide.

And then we go around the table and tell what we are pre-deciding this year. And my heart feels less of that ache.

I’m not so foolish to think this will act as a bad choice immunization. We are all susceptible. But it is a way to infuse their heart with a memory of a pre-decision.

And with that the plates are cleared, the cookies are nothing more than crumbs, and it’s time to go.

So, I whisper a few last words that are a “best yes” for them…

Go where wisdom gathers, not where wisdom scatters. 

Make decisions today that will still be good tomorrow.

And (insert voice cracking and tears welling up), remember how much I love you.

Here are some great Bible Verses to pray for our kids as they head off to school this year:

Galatians 1:10

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Joshua 24:15

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Acts 5:29

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

I want to further equip you to have these kinds of discussions with your kids… your spouse… your coworkers… your fellow ministry leaders.

My new book The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands will do just that. It doesn’t release until August 12th, but you have an opportunity to pre-order your copy today and receive $50 of free gifts that won’t be available after release. Click here to get your copy!

Also, today I’m giving away 5 Best Yes bundles – including the book, the participant’s guide, and a cling you can put anywhere to remind you of your Best Yes each day.

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For your chance to win, leave a comment below. Who do you want to have this conversation with? What do you want to pre-decide today?