But for grace

Galatians 5:7

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?

Most likely, these are harsh words to the person who tripped up, failed, cut out of the race, strayed from the Christian path. Do you know anyone like that? Do you wonder what happened? Does your heart hurt for them? I do. I have. Mine does.

I’ve struggled for over a month now to understand what happened. I’ve begged God to do something, to show Himself as deliverer. I’ve awoken in the middle of the night burdened to pray for the one my heart aches over. I’ve whispered urgent prayers and cried plenty a Sister-in-Christ’s tears.

But God has not acted.

The words of the apostle Paul echo in my mind. They were running a good race, a really good race. They had come so far! They were doing so well.

But someone cut in on them.

Someone who didn’t have their best interests at heart. Someone who deceived them. Someone who looked good, but who told them things contrary to the truth.

Galatians 5:8-9

That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.

These words for them are hard to hear, I know.

Because sometimes, even when the truth is spoken in love, it is still hard to hear.

It’s hard because once you’ve been cut in on, the race becomes confusing. The one who cut in on you is convincing. And satan works no differently now than he did in the garden of Eden. He plants doubt and casts accusations. He deceives you into believing that failure is final. He’ll hog-tie you with a rope of discouragement, assuring you that you might as well not even try to escape.

But know this: You are already free.

Those ropes of discouragement are merely tied with a slip knot. The slip knot becomes untied when you pull on the truth. Truth will never confuse. It will never tie you up. The truth always sets you free. You were running a good race. You can run again. It’s not over yet because the finish line is still ahead of you.

Run the race. Get back up. Run with perseverance.

The one who cut in on you? Cut them out. Run with truth. Run with the one who will never trip you up. There is grace for those who stumble. The God who called you? He’s cheering you on. He’s holding out his arms, wide open, to receive you back in the race. Run to him.

Take hold of the hand of grace. He’s waiting for you at the finish line.


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Father’s Day

I scroll through my news feed on Facebook and see a multitude of people giving thanks for the dads in their lives. I smile wistfully and am happy for those who have that privilege.

My dad died when I was 12 years old.

Before then, my parents were divorced, and my dad was an alcoholic. It’s been a long time since I uttered the words, “I love you, Dad.” I have just a precious few memories with which to remember him by. I remember the time he took me and my little sister to the store to pick out new dolls as a Christmas gift. I remember he taught me how to play Cribbage. I remember a time in the kitchen when he made Monster cookies. I remember a Christmas Eve midnight mass where I fell asleep on my daddy’s lap, secure against his chest.

I don’t often think about my dad on Father’s Day. Not because he isn’t loved, but because when I think of my father, I most often think of the One who loves me unconditionally, who is perfect in all His ways. While my earthly dad loved me, my heavenly Father is the one who taught me about forgiveness, faithfulness, and truth.

A father is important, more important than our estrogen dominant culture would admit.

My dad shaped my life, for better or worse, but it is God who has sustained it. It is God who has really shown me what it means to have a father I can count on, a father who never disappoints and who is always there. God is the one I turn to when my heart hurts, when I am filled with joy, and when I seek answers for the things in my life that don’t make sense.

Some fathers are amazing, and my husband is an incredible dad. I am blessed. But they, like us, are not perfect. We fail, we get it wrong, and we hurt our kids at times. And we forget. We forget that we are made in the image of God. How often do we reflect Him? How often do we neglect to be like Him?

What a relief it is to know that all it takes is looking in the mirror of His word to see what a good, good father God is.

Father’s Day is meant to honor the fathers in our lives, to recognize their profound impact on us, and to tell them we love them. Today, I want to say I love you, LORD.



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When you’ve screwed up BIG TIME

The voice of the accuser whispers, “You call yourself a Christian?”

Condemnation murmurs in your ear, “See, I told you you’d never make it.”

The Liar breathes a satisfied smile because he’s got you right where he wants you: down. Down in sin. Down in failure. Down in heart.

But there is another voice. The still small quiet voice that waits in silence for you to turn your eyes and ears to Him. He knows what you’ve done and does not accuse. The temptation you succumbed to? He is not reviled by it. He is not ashamed of you. Listen to me: He is not ashamed of you. For He knows you are weak. There is only One who is perfect in all His ways. (1 Kings 19:12, 2 Samuel 22:31)

You’ve got to get this: Condemnation is from satan. Conviction is from God. There is a difference.

Your failure has left you low and you wonder who your friends are. The voice of condemnation will tell you he’s your friend, that he’s just like you. But he’s not. He’s not because real friends don’t glory in your failure. Real friends don’t rejoice in your suffering. Real friends don’t encourage sin.

Casting Crowns – “Jesus, Friend Of Sinners” lyrics

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart dividedOh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yoursYeah…Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You didOh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yoursYou love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

‘Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours

And I was the lost cause and I was the outcast
You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

The voice of conviction is not a cheering crowd leading you into temptation, but a quiet Presence urging stillness. “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) He is well aware of your weakness and, unlike the adversary, He does not take pleasure in your weakness. Yet He deems your weakness as good. Good because weakness is where He works best. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

For every screw up, there is grace. For every mistake, every failure, every sin, grace is greater. You are not defined by your failures. You are defined by HIM.

You are loved. Loved in your sin, in your mess, and in your shame. Loved, not after you clean yourself up, but while you clean yourself up. And the best part? You don’t do it alone. You have a Father who kneels down, dips the cloth into the cleansing water of Christ, and washes you clean. He is a good, good Father. Your sin is not greater than His grace. Take courage, dear friend.


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The goal

They say the whole goal of parenting is to have your little birdies leave the nest. Well, I don’t know who “they” are, but I can tell you this: “they” left out a few things. Significant things. Things like this:

One day you find out they’ve entered, not only your world, but your body. For nine short months you are inseparable.

AbbyWavingAnd then, before your very eyes, they grow independently of you.

1abby doing Kindergarten school3They do all sorts of things by themselves, learning and growing each day.

Abby's graduation (16)

Until, one day, they spread their wings and fly.

They didn’t tell me that the spreading of our little birdies’ wings to fly would ache so in our mama hearts.

They didn’t tell me that leaving the nest would take the breadth of a wing span. Eighteen years? Just a flap of the wings.

They didn’t tell me that those labor pains don’t just occur at birth. They come ’round again when that young birdie, now a young adult, fledges the nest.

They didn’t tell me that mamas never stop worrying. Yes, even if you’re a woman of faith.

But this is the deal: the goal, I discovered, really isn’t getting them to leave the nest. The goal is getting them to fly, to do what God designed them to do.

This is what I want for all my children, to use the gifts God has given them because I know when they do, they glorify Him. He made them; unique, individual, and dependent. Dependent, not on me, but on Him.

My girl is flying, but I know the sound of her call. And I’ll be listening for it.



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Chiropractors are quacks

Chiropractors are quacks. At least, that’s the mentality many people in my family (and community) had when I was growing up.

But not me.

I began seeing a chiropractor when I was 20 years old. I was a cosmetologist, and every waking moment was spent on my feet. Soon, it became apparent that I needed some sort of treatment for my back issues. As a child, I had suffered a broken leg which resulted in a short left leg. That, in turn, resulted in scoliosis. By the time I hit twenty, the effects of uncorrected imbalance began to show.

Fast forward another twenty years and the effects had doubled. Just months after our son died, an emergency CT scan showed a herniated disk in my lower back. I also suffered from TMJ, migraine headaches, vertigo, anemia, kidney stones, and bursitis of the right hip and shoulder.

I was in a mid-life crisis, alright.

While I consistently utilized traditional chiropractic care and physical therapy and managed to avoid surgery, I still felt like a 98 year old woman in a 40-something year old body. But chiropractic gave me temporary relief, so I continued with it. Satisfied with my chiropractor, I was therefore taken completely by surprise when she left without notice at the end of December, 2015. I tried two other associates in the same center, but wasn’t getting relief.

It was April when I heard about NUCCA.

A friend on Facebook had asked for prayer for her husband’s back issues and another friend of hers left this comment: “… I suffered with a herniated disk for a long time (c-6 and c-7) and eventually found a chiropractor with a very unique method that literally transformed me (too much to tell here). Let me know if you are interested to know more.”

Of course, I messaged him.

I brought up the NUCCA website and read the pertinent information. Then I searched Youtube for NUCCA correction videos. It looked crazy. I wondered if perhaps the mentality that “Chiropractors are quacks” was true after all. But this friend of a friend gave me what I was desperate for: HOPE.

And nothing speaks louder than pain, except hope.

The clinic nearest me offered a free consultation, so I set one up. The NUCCA technique made sense to me, and I had nothing to lose, so I agreed to go ahead with treatment. I’ll be honest with you: it’s not cheap and they don’t take insurance. But seeing as Obamacare pretty much covers nothing for us anymore, anyway, it isn’t much difference to our pocketbook.

But I digress. Back to the Nutella®. I mean NUCCA. (Both are amazing!)

Two appointments, x-rays, and a myriad of measurements later, I had my first NUCCA adjustment. I drove an hour and a half to the appointment with my sciatic nerve screaming, my neck and shoulders in their typical vise-grip posture, and my hip bursitis aching. I drove home almost unaware of my sciatica and my neck and shoulders feeling like I had had an hour long massage.

That night I slept the entire night for the first time in four and a half years. I woke with absolutely no back pain, and my bursitis was a faint memory. I believe shock is the correct word to use here.

Amazingly, at my two week appointment I had kept my alignment. No adjustment needed. But then my back began to hurt again and my bursitis and sciatic nerve pain indicated I was in need of another adjustment. I got adjusted and, again, miracle of miracles, the pain disappeared.

I am sleeping better, have no back pain, and my neck and shoulders, where I normally carry all my stress, feel unbelievably relaxed. My hip and shoulder bursitis are dramatically improved, as well. My NUCCA doctor (http://johnsonspinalcare.com/) has set up a care plan for me, and I am confidently investing my money on the best thing for me: healing.

To some, NUCCA may look and sound like a quacking duck, but I’m here to tell you it’s a goose with a golden egg.


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