Rough Road Ahead

A few weeks back as we were traveling home from vacation, I saw a road sign stating “Rough Road.” Now, we were in South Carolina so that’s pretty much all of their roads. (Not sorry Palmetto peeps, because your roads are the worst, and that’s saying something from this Nashville gal) As we bumped along a bit I took a mental note of that sign, thinking more about it in response to life than to the physical conditions of the road.

Two years ago today, I was fired from my job with no explanation or reason as to why. Thinking back on some still fresh memories of that day and subsequent days, the road ahead that picture of the “Rough Road” sign came to mind once again. Because I started wondering if we’d appreciate knowing that a rough road was ahead in our lives.

If we could be warned of rough patches on the road of life ahead, would we want to know?

Would it make it any easier to bear? To live through and be on that road, knowing it was coming? I’ll be honest and say that no, it wouldn’t. In fact the knowledge of impending bumpiness makes it harder in many ways. We start to work in our means, (we do that anyways alot of the times) but we try to control the situation, the consequences or the people involved. The warning allows for preparation yes, but preparation on whose part? And what does that prep look like in our lives?

When rough roads approach us in life, do we grip the wheel and just endure it while we are on it, or do we lean in to see if there’s a change of course needed, or if we need to pull off and rest a bit in how we’ve been traveling that road? A rough road gives us the ability to see what’s lying underneath where we’ve been trodding, revealing to us what we are made of and on what/who we are relying. The signal of a rough road gives us false senses of reliance upon ourselves to avoid it or be able to get through it quickly.

Would I have wanted the warning of being fired? I have to say now, two years later, that while a warning of what lies ahead would be nice, I know that in it all I found that I was more trusting of God, not knowing how the road would wind and move, but I had to trust that it would move me more towards Him than anywhere else.

It was a rough road, and one that required healing, provision and trust beyond what I could muster up for myself alone. A rough road ahead doesn’t so much need a warning sign as it does a belief that the rough road is a part of our journey home.

That Post-Resurrection Life

Last week I posted alot about Holy Week, culminating in Resurrection Sunday. We make much of this day in Christianity as it’s the day Christ arose from the grave to pronounce victory for all over death and sin. We no longer have to worry about the bondage of sin, but instead we live lives of freedom found in Christ.

Easter is a celebratory time, and rightfully so.  We celebrate and live into that which we could not do, ever, knowing He is our Redeemer.

But here’s the thing, as I walked through this week and all the post-Holy Week living. I dug into Acts a bit, even as Christ ascended and the disciples are now left with much-including the Holy Spirit with them and in them.

I looked at Peter, Silas, and the others who were witness to Christ’s workings. As Pentecost came, so did God’s Presence in the Holy Spirit upon them. Not preaching the gospel, but speaking praises of His wondrous works. They weren’t witnessing to all those who had gathered around as the rushing wind drew them in, nope. They were giving praise, speaking it from words they had never spoken before thanks to the gifting of the Holy Spirit.

So that got me thinking, as I walked through this week post-Resurrection Sunday, when all the candy went on sale, the joyous nature of what’s coming had ebbed, and the very felt Presence may be waning for you. Maybe it doesn’t feel like much of a celebration now, in the week after. That praises continue to pour forth out of mouths which now face death, doubts, frustrations, worries and this post-Resurrection life in the day to day.

Do we grow used to the Resurrection the other 364 days a year?

That was the question posed on Sunday by David Hannah. One that has struck me over and over again this week, as I live out life in Christ and through Him. Am I living a “used to the Resurrection” life every other day but Easter Sunday? What does it even look like to live a Resurrected Life?

Well it means we aren’t beholden to the death that sin promises anymore. We aren’t buried under the weight of the world’s stresses, cries and defeats. We are alive in Him who defeated the grave and gave us life abundant. We aren’t bound to identities in anything but in Him.

But yet we choose the mourning cloths and embalmed rags of a life we once knew instead of the resurrected one in which we have with Christ, in His redemption. So maybe we need that reminder that praises come forth even when we may still be wondering, when we may still doubt and have fears…when Christ has told us explicitly of things to come and yet He also gave us life anew.

Begin Again

So here we are a week into 2017. How are those resolutions treating you? Or better yet, how are you treating them? I know all the statistics surrounding the people who keep their resolutions is staggering at best. It reminds us of failure and best laid plans.

Shoot, even I indulged in cheesecake yesterday and thought “well, here you are ya failure.” But then I remembered it’s my choice. I chose to grab that deliciousness (and it was delicious) with the same choice I made to get in good health this year. One doesn’t nullify the other but it can overshadow it if I let it.

I can allow the weight of one poor decision to counteract the good intentions and focus I had the other six days of the week. Or I can say that this was a choice today, that has no effect on what I accomplished the other six days this week and will have zero bearing on the next six days following.

new-years-resolutions-calendar

Recently I was listening to a friend speak about beginning again…something we all often like to do in January each year. We have come off the indulgences (and some over indulgences) of the holiday season that lasted well over six weeks. We have said “come January” more often than we would care to admit. In my friend’s sermon I couldn’t help but think about how we reserve January 1 as a do over day. We hit reset, wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

But what about April 18? Or July 24? Or October 1?

I think we put far too much emphasis on the date on the calendar than we do the intentions and purpose of our hearts and minds. We lump in so much, put alot of pressure on a new year, on January 1 to bring about some radical shift in our lives that when it’s a week later and we’ve not seen much we grow discouraged. Or when we slip up because we’ve lived for the last eight weeks, eight months, eight years, a lifetime a different way that we chalk it up to us being failures.

What if instead of letting one slip up damage the whole focus of your determination, preparation and focus, you allow it to give you another reset? What if instead of focusing on the location of where you find yourself on January 8th, you focus on the people you get to interact with, what you can learn from them, how you can bring brightness to their day?

Maybe you do need to begin again today. It’s a new day, full of new mercies. It’s full and waiting for you. Maybe it’s about not letting the date on the calendar or one poor choice dictate how your life is structured and lived out. You get the choice. You get the decision. You get to tell failure that it had it’s time, you have learned and you are utilizing that to move in the direction you feel led. That it’s not about where you are in location, job, relationship, hardship or joy but it’s about choosing to begin again with yourself.


You can listen to my friend’s sermon here. (And you should)

An Ordinary Review

“But mission usually doesn’t involve doing sensational acts; it involves simple, ordinary acts done with a heart of love.” (P.52)

That is much of the position of Tony Merida in his book, Ordinary, out now from B&H Publishers. 

You find Merida’s writing straight to the point and grounded in Biblical foundations throughout the first half of the book. He doesn’t mince words about loving your neighbor as a missionary life, how to support and engage the orphaned and widow is our responsibility in the church, and how ordinary life should reflect the image of Christ always.

With it being under 150 pages, one may ascertain its more devotional and fluff than call to a mission-filled life of “ordinary.” However this book provides depth to what life in the suburbs or apartment building looks like, what missionaries living can be in a corner office or in the streets. He points to hospitality as a means of speaking the gospel to people.

It falls directly in the path of Christ’s journey here on earth, at the table having meals with non-believers, entertaining the outcast and lesser of society, seeking conversations with the prostitutes and adulterers. Merida lays out beautifully the life of ordinary, of daily loving others just as Christ loves, and the impact it makes in extraordinary ways in the journey of serving God.

The latter half of the book dives more into advocacy and ways to practically serve the marginalized of society. While many will enjoy this turn into practicality I felt it wasn’t a fluid move from one chapter to another. It felt very choppy and forced, as if these were add-ones for page counts. While advocacy is important and vital to our lives as image bearers it just didn’t seem to fit where it was placed in the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone doubting their life is missional, to anyone who thinks they have to do some big mission journey or that is skeptical of an ordinary life as one of mission as well. So basically, anyone can and should read this. It’s a great look and convicting message of how much more ordinary we need in our lives, rather than extraordinary. Let’s leave that business to God and live out the missional life He’s called us to live.


I received this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. Want to be a B&H/LifeWay blogger too? Apply at B&H Bloggers.

The Rachels and Leahs of the World

It’s a tale as old as time it seems…(No, I am not talking about Beauty and the Beast here, at least not now)

The tension of relationships.

Two women find themselves attached to the same man. They do all they can to one-up each other simply to gain his love and devotion, to be the first in his life rather than play second fiddle. I am pretty sure multiple comedies and romances have been based off of this brief synopsis. I know I have been a part of that story in my own life and seen it rip apart friendships over the years.

As I sat reading about this, I could not help but think on the female relationships in the church. You see I was reading straight from Genesis…About real women, in the lineage of Christ, sisters themselves who were thrust into a situation where they desired nothing more than the attention and love of a man. A man who was forthcoming about his preference of one of the sisters over the other. And the resulting dysfunction of tension within the family which laid the foundation for continued disregard of family and sinful actions to perpetuate down their lines.

I wanted to shake Rachel and Leah. I wanted to comfort them both and yet I wanted to brush past their drama as well. But I just couldn’t.

Because it’s too prevalent even now in our midst as women. As the church.

We women are far too good at making it a competition rather than a cheering section when it comes to relationships, leadership and the church. When it comes to the area of singles, we do it simply because of numbers-there just aren’t as many single men in the church as there are women-so we start vying for attentions of the opposite sex to the detriment of our fellow women. I wish I could claim ignorance on this but unfortunately I have been on both the giving and receiving end of this tension over the years, where we find ways to “one-up” the other lady.

I have even seen this among the marrieds and families, with the wonder moms crowd vying for VBS status and church leadership praise. In our pursuit for goodness, we have found instead pride and ego-centered living. We have given up community for temporary attention. We have chosen ourselves over others.

As much as we like to point to the Israelites with their complaining in the desert, here we sit in the same petty arguments that plagued some of the very first families. The desires for our own good apart from God and His purpose, His call to community and love, to engaging the other ahead of ourselves, to servant filled lives instead of self-filled motives.

Maybe it starts with us ladies. Maybe, just maybe, we stop being the Rachels and Leahs in the walls of the church (or the home, or the workplace, or around the coffeshops) and instead we embrace the life of community, comradery and support. We share with one another instead of cutting one another down. We build up rather than seek to one up. Rather than see another woman as our competition we see her as our sister, our journey-woman, our friend.

Three times I have sat down to write.

Three times I have erased everything I have written.

Delete.

That’s what I would like to do on things. Just delete them. So they would stop popping up as a reminder. Attempting to bring regret or doubt.

So I have this tonight. A few words on a screen because we cannot delete life. Experiences. Situations and Circumstances. People and Places.

We often wish we could. We think we have the power to do just that. We can find various things and various means to delete it. But they ease back in or pop back up.

Instead we have this life to fight for. To grasp and build off of, or fall victim to. We get that choice. Why not put new words to a blank screen? Why not process and adjust, allowing for editing but pushing ‘publish’ on life today?