Lord have mercy

She emailed me. From Russia, “have you read Found?” And again, when they were back in the US she emailed, “Have you read Found yet?” No, I said. It’s on my list. I looked at a small stack of books on the table, the ones I’ve paged through a chapter or two and the ones below I’ve meaning to get to and there it was, waiting near the bottom. I grabbed the book for a road trip.

I haven’t read 50 pages and I can’t help but pause to consider her words. Micha Boyett has put words to the music of my soul.

That’s how this book is going for me. Read a few pages, drop the book to my lap while I gaze out the window or wonder why I didn’t get the e-book version so I could highlight passages or maybe the whole page in places. I am afraid if I read too much at one time these thoughts will rush through too quickly to be examined and that would leave me where I started and I want more. So I pause and consider.

Found book


231N sign

road signs logo

Today I am considering these words the author spoke to her husband, “I love you more than my idea of being remarkable.” 

She is saying this because of her struggle of feeling value, feeling worth as a new stay-at-home mom. That was not me. Isn’t me. Not that time of my life.

Mothering two littles was enough for me. It filled me and added to my understanding of God’s love for me. Being the stay-at-home mama was my calling. I knew it deep inside. I didn’t need remarkable. Then.






But now? Most of the time. I think. Maybe? I wonder, do I love Jesus more than my small ideas of being found remarkable?

We get praise from others and we point upward, ‘it’s all for His glory’, and we believe that. But….do I honor Him enough for what He is doing? Do I love Him, God, more than the ministry?

Lord have mercy“, Micha says and I echo.

She writes of trying hard in her spiritual life, as though we have to try at all and sometimes it all just feels trying. I get that, the good church girl I’ve been, wanting to live right, do right, forgetting He is the one doing and it’s been done for me. And you.

I’m learning there isn’t much doing to believing and that’s what he wants from me: to believe. Believe in Him and unto Him. But believing is active and I can make the simplest things complicated.

I’m going slow with this book as it pulls me in page by page asking questions and feeling more and more released from needing the answers.

At the Crossroads Pt. 2

“Do you know how hard it was to come back? Come back through those doors?”



In the story, the one Jesus told about the son who went out on his own to make his way,  that son found himself eating garbage. He was eating what pigs wouldn’t eat.

He set out with an inheritance and made fast friends. The kind of friends money will bring. Then the money was gone, the friends were gone, and reality came clearer into focus.

Jobs didn’t come. Maybe he wasn’t prepared. Maybe he didn’t have the schooling needed or he lacked experience. Maybe his expectations were unrealistic. Maybe he felt a little entitled. These are the rationalizations we tell ourselves.

Surely he felt foolish and alone. And here is the crossroad. The choice that looks simple to some but so hard to others.



“It was hard for all of us to come through those doors.” Mike knows, it’s his 3rd or 4th time walking through them. The two men looked hard at the other, you could feel their deep desire for their friend to ‘get it’ this time.

The story is the same and the story is different. The story Jesus told of a young man from a family of wealth and status lured by the grand visions of ego and the world. The lie that he needed no one. He was all he needed to follow this drug of self.


Another, a 50-something alcoholic from a family with a loving wife, his high school sweetheart who’d stood by him relapse after relapse. He was lured by comfort, the lie told in a bottle that promised to soothe his regrets and hurts.

And I ask, what lures me? What is the crossroads I’m looking to? What is yours?  Is it the empty fame offered by social media? The number of likes and pins and retweets? Am I lured by comparison? Measuring my inside against another’s outside? Seems that tape measure is always within reach to gauge how I’m doing. Young enough, small enough, good enough?

It’s hard to walk through that door. The door of truth, of hope, of grace. It should be easy, but fear stifles and the lies can be louder than the truth. Or maybe my itching ears are tickled by the lies.

In our bible story, the son “came to his senses”. He came to his senses and went home. He walked through the door of humility and returned home where his father had been watching and waiting all along.

Another made that hard walk through our doors. I hope he stays. Not inside the doors but inside the truth and the truth is this: God, like a good father, has been waiting and watching for our return and he wants us to stay with him. Through the pain, through the regret, through the hurts, through the failures and relapses and not being enough because we never are, but, we don’t have to be. The only thing enough is his grace. His ocean of grace for you and me.

An old-fashioned invitation

We’re sort of old-fashioned that way. The way we close our Sunday worship time with an invitation to pray. Not the sit-in-your-seat-heads-bowed-eyes-closed kind of prayer. Well, that, yes, but also the kind of prayer that brings some people to the front of the chapel to kneel before God and their peers. That kind of old-fashioned invitation that isn’t always common these days. It’s not easy to make that walk. The one that has you making your way across the legs of the others on your row to walk down the aisle and lower your body in that position of humility that is nothing but strong.



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We came up this way, my husband and I. I remember daddy leading that final song on Sunday morning, so often it was ‘Just As I Am’ or “Have Thine Own Way”. The annual youth weekends with several hundred teenagers always had that Sunday morning altar call. We knew it was going to last for-ever and tried to volunteer someone to go forward to get this thing started because no one was leaving this room until someone went to that altar!

It was the same way at summer camp and Men’s camp and Women’s weekend: come, come forward and pray. 

In the traditional church setting weeks could go by with no one coming forward or the one little old person who knelt every week. But it’s different in this community of men fighting addictions of all kind. There is no hesitation when the word is given to come forward and pray for others, for yourself, bring your troubles and joys to God, here. At this mercy-seat.




And they do. One after the other. I figure some are doing it thinking it might score some kind of points with “the Major”. It’s more show than heart but that’s not my concern. God will sort that out.

It was one of those weeks and Michael said it after the service when he turned to me and said, “There was power in here today”. Yes, there was. I felt it when the one I didn’t know stood to give testimony of God using another man to keep him from temptation. I felt the power in his weak voice as he struggled to tell of his fight for sobriety and I felt the power when so many men came forward to pray there was no room at the altar but they came anyway. That one came, on the platform to kneel, off to the side where a rail was covering some instruments. Another came with no place left to lean, and simply knelt in the middle of the floor. That position that could look weak to some, the body lowered to the floor, screams strength to me. God’s strength enabling them to bow without shame, and call on God.

Our prayers are heard from any position. Eyes open or closed. Head bowed or raised. Standing or sitting. Whispered or yelled or sung or silent. I’ve heard a man who would get overcome with laughter at times during prayer and John, John signs his spoken prayers.

Yes, there’s power when there’s prayer. All the time. All the time.

What’s really new?

Was it just yesterday we celebrated new life? No, more than new life, we celebrated death defeated. We celebrated the Son of God, whose body was beaten and crucified, whose dead body was carried to a tomb but death couldn’t keep him. We celebrated that: a resurrection!

taken by Tampa

Yesterday we gathered in our churches or outside services to celebrate this long-held belief that Jesus is the Son of God and that, yes, He Lives Today. As the old hymn says, “He lives within my heart”.

And today? Today we carry on. With our jobs, our classes, our routine. I’m asking myself, what’s really new? How does this belief in a man who defies death, who came to turn the worlds ways upside down, how does that change me? What was dead in me that is now alive in Him?

Easter service

Easter service

I looked across the group gathered outside in a park across the street from our A. R. C. Our group of men had joined together with members from the church down the street to celebrate Easter. I don’t know the stories from the church folks but I know for our men, they came looking for new life. They came to our doors needing to find a new way to live, to love, to hope. They came from the throes of addiction but aren’t we all in need of new ways to live, love and hope? We celebrate this new life Jesus gives but is that all we do? Celebrate it with Easter lilies and going to church? I’m preaching to myself, always to myself.

There is more to do than celebrate an empty cross. There are people to love and smiles to share and orphans and widows and giving that cup of cold water and caring for the lost and the smelly and the ones we don’t like. There is work to do if we are to defeat the chains of death. There is a new way to live. The way Jesus showed us. This is how we celebrate and this is how we live.

This Holy Week

Call it Passion Week or call it Holy Week but to me it feels like a week on a roller coaster I can’t get off. The highs are high and have us stretching our arms up, waving them gloriously and then grabbing the crossbar in front as the dip snatches our breath and we are holding on as we round the curves of life.

This Holy Week seems like the busy week. The week filled with things to do, to share, to experience, all quieting that voice telling me to remember to be. Stop. Breathe. Be. With Him.

Palm Sunday

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prayer labyrinth


I love this week. The anticipation of sharing so many things in community awakens my energy and my senses go on alert. I am pulled into the knowing we are sharing something new with many. We are sharing hope to the hopeless and grace to all.

There’s a lot to tell about this week. It seems all of Jesus’ ministry was lived in this last week of his life. It all accelerates before our eyes and he is telling his followers that now, right when things ramp up and the crowds that follow are building and palm branches waving him in, he tells them he’s leaving. Gone. Soon. And they are confused.

It seems important to tell this story and I feel the rush of it to be told in this week and truth is, the story continues. What confused his followers, his inner circle of 12, is known to us. We see the Sunday that is coming after Friday and we can tell this story day after day.

So we will. This week we will tell it with the Prayer Labyrinth and Seder and solemnity of the Good Friday service. We will drape the black on the cross and place the crown of thorns around it. We will eat the matzoh and drink the grape juice in remembrance of him, of the One who became our sacrifice. And Sunday morning, outside with the sun streaming between the trees, we will rejoice that Jesus lives and because he lives we keep telling his story. The story that Jesus loves me, this I know.

The Cross Is Not Greater

It’s hard to find silver crosses, the kind you wear around your neck. I wore a gold one for years because it’s what mama sent me and it was simple, the style I like. I remember when our home church got a makeover and the cross that hung on the stage was transformed from a simple fashioned cross to one resembling a bookmark. It was framed with molding and a contrasting color in the middle, the cross now fastened to the wall against this red. It took some getting used to.

The chapel in our Center underwent renovations and it was the cross that drew questions. When there was no cross in sight the first few weeks the men asked.

The hymn sings about a rugged cross and I suppose it was. It wasn’t for looks but utilitarian purposes. What did you need other than wood strong enough to hold the weight of a man, hold the weight of a people?

Holy Land Tour  claims of being on the site of the birth of Christ

Holy Land Tour  claims of being on the site of the birth of Christ

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present day Golgotha

present day Golgotha

There was a hillside where these public executions took place. In Jerusalem it was Golgotha, the place of the skull. Today, this hill sits above a bus terminal with a Muslim cemetery on top of it. It still sits high over an area, an area one can picture hoards of people gathering, crosses situated where everyone could get an unobstructed view.

Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, we focused on the palm branches and the people waving them or placing them on the ground for Jesus’ entry as they called out, “Hosanna!” Later we will focus on the bread and wine of the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples but already it’s the cross that occupies my thoughts. It’s symbol looms large as the shadow is cast.

Jesus says all who follow him must carry their cross too. It sounds harsh and I work to reconcile it with his promise to help carry our burdens. I wonder about the crosses we carry and the times we let them press us down as we try to carry it alone. I see many who carry the cross of addiction. It’s an easy one to see like the crosses atop the high steeples. Some of us tuck our crosses inside our collar, behind our shirts, trying to hide the weight dragging us down. It’s so much easier to disguise gossip as concern or depression as just a rough time that will pass. This cross called an emblem of suffering and shame doesn’t have to be the suffering that will kill us. We don’t have to die on our cross because Jesus did that on his. 

It’s a song I haven’t heard in years but the words came to mind today:

The cross is not greater than his grace

Our sin, is not ever, greater than his grace.


The Cross

It was that year, the year I was searching a bit, stretching into a new journey. I’d claimed my faith the summer before, held it as my own, no longer accepting the hand-me-down faith from my parents. So when I saw that crucifix hanging in the seaside shop on a weekend with my cousins, when I saw that bold statement not part of our faith tradition I bought it. Life was different, I was different and this was bold. For me.

No telling what daddy would have said but he wasn’t there, he’d left mama and she was the less reactive one. She was calm when she said, ‘we believe He [Jesus] isn’t on the cross anymore.’ And that made sense. Perfect sense really so I didn’t wear that crucifix much after that. No problems with the symbol but if I wanted to be bold I would be bold at saying that cross didn’t hold him then and it doesn’t hold him now.

But it is the cross, that cross with its promise and shame, that claims attention this week of the passion of Christ.

My friend, Cindy, over at Mama’s Empty Nest, is telling the story through her photography and I hope you’ll stop over to her place.  I keep telling my story with too many words and should take a cue from Cindy but we follow our hearts.

It’s a story about a cross because that’s where it all changed. A cross designed for slow death, a criminals death. A cross that held death but could not contain it. Let’s begin.


Holy Land Tour



taken by Tampa

“But wait! There’s more!”

Times like this my heart is so big and full with gratitude and joy and my face is beaming brighter than the Florida sun. It’s just been one of those evenings. The kind that can’t be scripted but should always be cherished and it is and I believe there will be more of these days. I believe it because I believe in a God who is changing lives every day.

The monthly awards are always a special time. You can gauge the attitude of the house at these meetings, the way the men cheer each other and the nicknames you discover. Tonight may be a little more dear as our speaker has been solid since the day he walked in over 3 years ago. I wasn’t sure about him at first. He has those droopy eyes like stoners have and I didn’t think he was serious. I questioned the house manager who assured me he was a great guy and yes, yes, he is. When Eric first came through our doors he looked my husband straight in the eyes with his droopy ones and said, “I’m here for the long haul” and three years later Eric is a valued employee.


handing out birthday bags at our monthly awards

handing out birthday bags at our monthly awards

April awards

April awards

Eric has long moved out but comes to work in the warehouse everyday, working with the newest men, the men who aren’t sure why they’re with us or if they’re going to stay. The men still weak from their crack or heroin diet, the ones whose hands aren’t steady because they haven’t had a drink to steady them. Eric and Jeff (another exemplary employee with 12 years sobriety) work with these men and show these men what integrity and character is.

So he stood behind the microphone with his strong voice and focused eyes staring into our hearts and telling how his worst day ended in a prayer. A prayer in a crack house telling God, ‘if this is all there is for me take my life now’. So God did. He took that life, the old life that wanted crack and pills and shots and whatever he could get, God took that life and gave Eric a new one. Somehow, Eric got to our doors and when he walked through, he said he decided to abuse everything the program had to offer him the way he abused the drugs. So he used the counseling and 12 steps and used the Bible and prayer and he used it all. And God kept giving him more.

Yes, it was a day that was ending like that. A celebration that continues every day Eric lives to tell it. And like the crazy loud man on the commercial says, “But wait, there’s more”

We come home to see our daughter and granddaughter on FaceTime and when I sing out to the 6-year-old, “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” she beams big and sings back “bright copper kettles with warm woolen mittens”. She has just watched both old and new versions of The Sound of Music and has ranked, in order, her favorite songs and our music worlds can join together and it is joyous.

family christmas  family christmas

And once again, I hear the voice, “But wait!, there’s more!”

The message tone sounds on Facebook and I check it to read a note from Nick, celebrating 3 years the end of May. Nick who called me every Sunday night for a year after his grandma passed because he used to call her. Nick, who came through our program twice and relapsed but got up again and again and is finding the blessings of sobriety too. He was writing to tell us about a possible new job, an advancement and to say he misses us and will visit soon. Again, my heart swells up and my face beams a smile in an empty room.

In three hours time all of this. Blessing after blessing and God’s extravagance is poured out on me, an undeserving child who is prone to whining and sarcasm. But God says, ‘Wait, there’s more!’ There’s always more because this is how God loves his people.


Five-Minute Friday {mighty}

Every Friday, I link up with Lisa-Jo Baker and a host of bloggers to free write for 5-minutes for the word prompt provided by Lisa-Jo. To join your voice with ours, click here. Ready?


Mighty? Really? What were you thinking Lisa-Jo? I can’t, right now imagine a more difficult word to write about. Mighty implies big and I’m not a “big” girl. I don’t care much for big scenes, big productions or big hair. Nope. Not me. I’ve always tried to be small. Which seems ridiculous to anyone who knows me because I’m a loud girl. Big voice and all of that. So mighty, huh? What am I to do with that?

{press pause}

We lived next to the Mighty Mississippi for three years. I wasn’t impressed. I’ve met a few people of notoriety with mighty voices and still, nothing.

Turns out, mighty isn’t always big. Not the kind of mighty that counts. The kind that is powered by heart and spirit.


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I have sat in an un-airconditioned, make-shift church in Port-au-Prince, sat on hard backless benches filled with people of meager means whose voices were mighty as they prayed and praised and showed the Spirit of a Living God who can be nothing less than mighty.


I have heard the quiet voice of desperation that could only hope for a mighty healing from a mighty God. Read the pleas for God to answer. The voice of addicts who have declared their life unmanageable and where is the mighty in that?

Turns out the mighty is never found in ourselves but in One Greater. The only One Greater. The Only One who is truly mighty. His Spirit gives might to our voice, to our cries, to our joy. We are His Mighty People.