A Sacrifice of Thanks

This Wednesday my husband and I will load the car, buckle up the boys, and take I-45 north for four hours to celebrate Thanksgiving with my side of the family for the first time in years.  It’s been years since we’ve done a holiday together. I couldn’t tell you exactly why we stopped gathering as a family all that time ago, because the decision was never mine to make, but I suppose at some point it simply became less painful for her to opt out of the holidays altogether.  Not the result of just one broken and strained relationship but the result of so many broken and strained relationships.  Perceptions were constantly conflicting, words were rarely weighed rightly, and one offense piled on top of another.  It all grew so heavy.  The remaining structure of the family, with her at it’s core, could not hold the weight of the rubble – so ties deteriorated, losses were cut, and the whole thing entered a state of disrepair.

Each year that came and went made the possibility of us coming back together in this way less and less likely.  Each year I hoped, asked, and prayed that time would do good work so that eventually we could try again.  I approached the topic gingerly just a few weeks back, expectations as low as I could possibly push them: “So, I was thinking that maybe me, Chris and the boys could head your way for Thanksgiving this year.”


And that was that.  After years of “no’s”, I finally got an “ok”.  I wish I could communicate to you the distance traveled between those two words.

This year, I get to go home for Thanksgiving.  I’m thankful for this.  I’m thankful for this despite the fact that I’ll be walking into relationships that have been shattered, grudges that have been long held, and hurts that have been left unattended for years.  I’m thankful for this even though there will be tensions and silences and slow-going conversations as we attempt to give this thing another go.  I’m thankful for all these difficult things, because they’re the very things the Lord has laid before me.

Right at the end of October, shortly after our Thanksgiving plans were made, my morning reading drove me headfirst into Psalm 50 where the intersection of two particular words caught my attention:  thanksgiving & sacrifice.

14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, 

and perform your vows to the Most High,

15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

A sacrifice of thanksgiving –  the phrase caught my attention and held it there until verse 23, when I fumbled upon those words again…

23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;

to one who orders his way rightly

I will show the salvation of God!

It seemed peculiar to me that those two words – Thanksgiving. Sacrifice. – would be coupled together, as I’d never before thought of them as being related. That morning, those verses begged me to linger for a moment in the place where those two words intersect.

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So I began to give thanks for all the things I am thankful for – but the sacrifice is missing because what I am most immediately, and let’s be honest – easily – thankful for are all the good and beautiful and right and lovely things in my life and there is no sacrifice required to be thankful for those things.  Thanksgiving, in and of itself, is a beautiful, God-ordained practice, but I was seeking the particular place where those two words collide. The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me…  So I rattle on down my list, digging deeper and pushing harder and begin thanking God for the things I usually ask him to change, to fix, to remove, or make better for me.  I thank him for all those broken and strained relationships, for all those difficult times and down-right heart-breaking circumstances, for the rocky, uneven, and tumultuous pathway which He has made my way to Him- and that’s when my thanksgiving turns to sacrifice because my instinct is not to thank God for those things, but to question Him because of them.

And the longer that list grows, the more I begin to understand it – this thanksgiving as a sacrifice.  The more difficult it becomes to give thanks the more clearly I perceive that the grown up concerns and complications of life need not choke the life out of thanksgiving, but give fresh birth to it – because thanksgiving is no sacrifice if it is not hard.

Yes, we should intentionally give thanks for the things we are thankful for, but we should also sacrificially thank him and train ourselves to be truly thankful for the things we may not want to be thankful for.  Haven’t we, as believers, bore witness to the Lord doing some of his most beautiful work not despite of difficult things, but actually through them?

So thank you, God, that I get to go home for Thanksgiving this year.  I’m full-out grateful for this bent and gnarled family tree that you’ve given me – that you’ve gifted me.  There may be generational sin around here a mile deep and a mountain high, but thank you, oh Lord, that your grace is so big that it covers it all.  And in your sovereignty you could have shielded me from all the pain that comes from loving and losing in the life of a family, but then I wouldn’t understand what it means to have a family.  You could have protected me from the unlovely parts of these people I love, but wouldn’t that in some way have robbed me of the beautiful parts of these people I love?  So because this is where I come from and this is where I am, this year I thank you, God, not for the beauty, but for the ashes.  I know full well that in your kingdom that is always how beauty begins.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.  Jeremiah 29:12-14

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Chasing Forgiveness

I’ve spent a good potion of this last year trying to will forgiveness into existence in the tightly twisted ravines of my heart.  As much as I labored and strained trying to summon that phantom forgiveness, I couldn’t find a way to make it be.  There were even points along the way when I questioned the necessity of the act, defiantly thinking, “Why should I?”  Why should this enormous burden be on me to forgive them? (cue indignation) After all, wasn’t I the person who was hurt here?  Wasn’t I the one who been wronged?  (indignation upon indignation ) I kept hoping that time was the answer; that as more and more of it passed, forgiveness would simply seep down deep into the soil of my heart and create some room for me to breathe.  But left unattended, unforgiveness always grows, it blossoms and blooms, becoming prolific.  Given enough room, unforgiveness sprouts and evolves into it’s very own thing – connected to, but somehow totally separate from the people and things that need to be forgiven. So at a certain point – I couldn’t tell you exactly where – it stopped being about what this person had done to me and it became about what I couldn’t do for them.

I couldn’t forgive them.

Of course, this wasn’t all that apparent to me.  I had tried to move on.  Done my best to forget.  Convinced myself that I was pretty much over it.  Someone had to point blank say it right to my face before I even realized it myself:  “You haven’t forgiven them.”  That truth hurt when it hit.  It struck hard and knocked my breath clear out. But it took that kind of brut force for me to finally recognize the situation for what it was – I hadn’t forgiven them.

And that gave me some pause.  Because I know too well what the Bible teaches about forgiveness. Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Not a mere suggestion, but a Gospel-hinging command.  Not just a verse I read, but a truth I live because I know exactly how much I have been forgiven.

Jesus taught forgiveness by way of word and action throughout his ministry on earth.   He even went so far as to tie our forgiveness of others to God’s forgiveness of us.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  Matthew 6:14-15  

Those are red-letter words, spoken from Jesus’ very own mouth.  I don’t want to confuse such a foundational Biblical principal as forgiveness, so please hear this – the only condition for salvation is a belief and confession of Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-13, Acts 16:31).  That verse in Matthew and others like it (see Luke 6:37, Mark 11:25)  point us not to a salvific forgiveness of our sins, but to a relational forgiveness that allows for a closer fellowship with the Father.  In short, harboring unforgiveness stifles our worship and stunts our spiritual growth.  When we withhold forgiveness from others it creates a relational rift between ourselves and God.  Why? Because when it comes down to it, you cannot withhold forgiveness while living in light of the fact that you’ve been forgiven.  Through my unforgiveness, it’s as if I had backed away from God.  Why would I choose to stand far away from a God who gave so much so that I could come near?

Following Jesus always requires that we step right over our self defenses.  That we bypass our right to be right; turn away from our right to be offended; that we neglect our right to harbor ill-will, anger and residual hurt so that we may choose to offer grace instead.  From a Biblical perspective, forgiveness is always a matter of grace because there’s nothing we can do to earn the forgiveness God has granted us.  The same grace that God offers us through his son should filter down into the relationships we have with others.  That means we give grace based not on a person’s merit to receive it, but based solely on our belief in what God has done for us.  Forgiveness is an act of faith, of trust, of obedience – not a pursuit of pure will.

So it didn’t really matter that I didn’t necessarily feel “ready” to forgive.  It didn’t really matter that my wounds hadn’t sufficiently healed.  God wanted me to forgive right in the middle of that mess – where forgiveness would still be a sacrifice.  He desired that I forgive believing that healing would proceed from obedience, not the other way around.   We forgive in these hard places for the sake of His name, His glory and His renown; by doing so, we bear witness to who God is and what He does.  The entire Christian faith rests upon this kind of grace-driven forgiveness. It’s where our journey with God begins, and as we walk this road with Him it’s the home we keep coming back to.  Grace.

Having received it so lavishly myself, why could I not now extend it to others?

chasing forgiveness image2

I rolled this question around in my mind for days until the answer finally became clear; it was because I hadn’t set my heart on it.  Truth be told, I had grown complacent in the place of unforgiveness.  It had offered me a shelter where I could hold my position, nurse my wounds, and re-build my defenses.  I had been hurt badly.  Maybe this person didn’t mean to hurt me, maybe their actions weren’t malicious in nature, maybe they had hoped things would go down differently…but the end did not justify the means and I got caught in the crossfire.

After all this, forgiveness wasn’t going to simply appear after a few half-hearted prayers.  In order to begin the process of forgiveness and see it straight through, I had to intently set my sights on it.  I had to dig my hands down deep into God’s word to give that forgiveness a foothold. Enduring forgiveness is a disciplined pursuit and an intentional putting away of all that keeps us from it – all bitterness and wrath and anger and slander and hypocrisy, of which I had plenty (Ephesians 4:31, 1 Peter 1:22).  Forgiveness like this has to be chased after hard, and then once we grab hold of it, we have to beg the Lord to help us keep our grip.

Do you have someone you’re struggling to forgive? Chase after it hard, my friend, and may you and I both be ever mindful that we are a people who have been forgiven.

Here are some of the verses I used in my pursuit of forgiveness – down them here.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting!  Psalm 139:23-24

linked up today at #TellHisStory


Simple Truths

A few weeks back, my husband set off for some time on his own. He packed up his things and made way for the Texas Hill Country, where the open skies and rolling hills give a man good reason to lift up his eyes.  I’d been watching it all pile up on top of him for a while;  When a man loves and lives in a manner worthy of Christ’s calling, it can wear and tear and bear down on him.  This manner of loving and living has a way of bringing a man to his knees.  I don’t envy the God-given weight that these men of ours bear, but I thank the God who gave it for this man of mine who bears it.  This last year has been a long, hard stretch of life for him – a season where the wilderness has masqueraded as nothing other than a wilderness. One of those seasons that clearly proclaims that this land isn’t the one we’ve been promised.  So he set out to reorient himself rightly, to set his eyes on that promised land somewhere over the horizon.  When he came home two days later he handed me this –  a few typed written pages that turned and twisted my heart into a messy puddle of gratitude.  I promptly deemed it our family’s manifesto – a declaration of our intentions, motives and aims – and tucked it away right next to his wedding vows to me, both which speak of the same Texas sunset.  With his permission, I’ve posted an abridged version of his writings below…

Simple Truths
July 2, 2015

I want to articulate what I see for my life and for the life of my family. I do so prayerfully and with a clear mind. I understand that, notwithstanding the significant amount of prayer and consideration that is reflected below, there will be times when I doubt the words on this page. That’s how I am, at least for now. It is my sincere prayer that in those times I will read these words and, through power that is not my own, remember a transcendent and absolute truth that unceasingly calls for me and my heart. Indeed, if I believe that absolute truth exists, it is easy enough to see, let alone remember. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 ESV) Better still, I pray for those times when I read these words without doubt and in full worship, knowing with unwavering certainty these simple truths.


You were chosen before the foundation of the world, not for your glory, but for His. Simple and staggering, this means: It is not about you. Your family; your marriage; your job; your success; your failure; your joy; your pain; your life. None of it is about you. In this world, this will be the hardest thing for you to accept, even harder to embrace. Until you do, nothing changes; once you do, everything does. And through the sanctifying crucible that is life, you will know peace, and He will be glorified.

“[E]ven as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:4-6 ESV

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”
Philippians 3:14-16 ESV

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 ESV


Your family is a sanctifying gift and sacred responsibility. You serve God through family as you help to raise up the next generation of believers, preparing them to engage all people, believer and nonbeliever alike. Your boys will be leaders, and, in all things, they will be strong, courageous, and compassionate. They will astound in ways you cannot yet conceive. Your wife is as close as you will come in this life to knowing an angel. She, like your sons, will astound. You will serve her, and, God willing, will sit on a porch with her years from now staring at a Texas sun, knowing it is finished.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 ESV

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word….” Ephesians 5:25-26 ESV

“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:29-31 ESV

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV


Church is a community of believers given as a means to sanctification. It is inwardly focused enough to aid each along in the process of sanctification, with the ultimate aim, not that each would remain inward, but extend outward. We engage and grow each other so that we may engage and grow the world, all so that God may be glorified. This is the heart and purpose of discipleship.

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47 ESV

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16


Work provides provision and purpose, but only a purpose, not the purpose. Work is also worship. This means that all things, big and small, should be done well, so that He may be glorified. Be patient. Let go.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 ESV

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'” Matthew 22:37 ESV

“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.'” Luke 9:23-24 ESV

“Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” Proverbs 31:23 ESV

Final Thought

You are a leader. Pray that God will open up opportunities for you too lead. You will be tired; you might not sleep. Manage yourself well, but deal with it. You will get impatient; deal with it. You will get frustrated; deal with. It is not about you.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16 ESV

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Linked up today at #TellHisStory


Stand to Lose


Those are the instructions I gave myself the entire time I watched the video. I stopped and started it half a dozen times before I finally made my way through the entire six minutes and twenty-eight seconds.  Several times I even covered my eyes and peered between the cracks of my fingers as if I were watching some gory horror flick that I could scarcely bear.  But this was no horror flick I was watching – it was me.  Me, a mic, and a podium – in front of a hundred people or so speaking of my own free will.  It was downright terrifying.

{Why is my face so frown-y?  Stop doing that, self.  Stop doing that now!  Do I naturally scowl?!  Could I just please bobby-pin that one bang up and out of your/my face?  Do I actually bear a resemblance to Sarah Palin with my hair up like that?!!  Yup, you should have gone with your instinct and left that cardigan unbuttoned.}  Just a few of the many thoughts one might encounter if one were ever forced to watch a video of themselves speaking.

You see for me, it has proved a far easier feat to write my stories down than it has been to speak them out loud.  When I write, I can re-read and revise and revisit: making sure that each word perfectly matches the ideas and intentions in my head.  But the problem with that is that life doesn’t actually occur in two-dimensions, does it?  Life doesn’t actually unfold in neatly crafted sentences and perfectly planned paragraphs and stay neatly placed on type-written pages.  No, real life cannot be contained or bound.  It insistently pours off the pages and into real time.  In real life there are misplaced commas, prolonged silences and certain words that remain just out of your reach.  Real life in real time is messy and imperfect – with fallen bangs, scowl-y faces and all. But for all its risks, real life is where you meet real people, hear real stories and have any chance of really changing.  So for everything I might stand to lose by stepping out from behind pen and paper – any illusion of grace and perfection that will surely be shattered, pummeled to pieces by stutters and mumbles and nervous gestures – for everything one stands to lose by stepping out into real life, it’s the only place that real life is really lived, and each of us is called to live it.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  Philippians 3:8

Listen to the other local writers who stepped out into real life at the Southeast Texas 2015 LTYM show here.

Read the unabridged version of Control Freak here.

Read more about the Listen to Your Mother experience here and here.

Connect with me on Facebook here!

Fathers and Grace


I wrote this post last year in the days leading up to Father’s Day. As I reflect on the very great gift my dad is to me this Father’s Day, I wanted to share it again.

Originally posted on earlymorningmama:

I remember the day my father apologized to me. It was probably about ten years ago now. He and I had both been working hard at our relationship that was hard to work. It had been that way for a long, long time. Through the years, we kept on keeping on with the gritty task of restoring a relationship that had been broken. Lots of dinners and lunches out with slow conversations as we struggled to acquaint ourselves with each other. I say acquaint because although there had been no real lapse in our relationship time-wise, we had ceased knowing each other in the way you cease knowing someone when you hold on too long to an idea of who that person is that doesn’t fit them anymore. So to say that Dad and I were getting reacquainted doesn’t quite fit because neither of us were at all who we…

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Mind vs. Heart

The sky opens wide and finally it rains.  The kind of rain so heavy that you can’t see to drive.  The thunder is constant, low and rumbling in the background.  It’s been threatening all week – this storm – the air so heavy and full of moisture that it has slowed just about everything down to a crawl.  I’ve had the feeling all week that I’m slowly walking straight into an impending storm.  So when the sky opened up about an hour ago, I thought, “Finally.  Come on then!  If you’re going to rain, then rain already.”

There’s a pile of laundry on the den floor, impending weekend visitors to prepare for, and a pre-school graduation ceremony looming in the very near future.  There’s so much that I need to be doing.  But instead, I sit here at my computer for the first time all week in a desperate attempt to put words to thought.  What you’re reading is my last-ditch attempt to make sense of all the partially formed ideas, thoughts and notions that I’ve been wrestling with all week.  I’ve been wrestling all week and as the end approaches, I just want to be done.  I want to shake this tough week off and salve my injuries without doing the hard work of making sense of the battle.  But I sit down to write out these jumbled thoughts because I need to push through the fog and seek Him for clarity.  He must have something to say through this mess of a week.

This week my beliefs collided with reality.  And things got messy.

An opportunity for a free mammogram through my husband’s work two weeks ago turned into two additional mammograms early this week.  Although the first radiologist “wasn’t concerned,” I guess he was at least a little concerned, because he advised additional imaging…and then still more imaging after that.  Still too young to even “need” a mammogram, I thought my going in for the opportunity of a free one was nothing more than due diligence, so I was taken aback by the report that I was going to need additional imaging.  I thought, “Wait.  I wasn’t even supposed to need this imaging.  This is just my due diligence, people!”

“I don’t think there’s any reason for concern, Mrs. Lacy, but I’d feel better if we has some additional imaging.”

I plastered on a smile that showed no teeth and nodded, “Of course.  Whatever we need to do.”

And that’s exactly what we did – whatever we needed to do.  By 10am on Tuesday morning, after 2 rounds of additional imaging, the radiologist’s initial assertion that there was “no need for concern” came to full fruition and I walked away from Texas Women’s Hospital with “no need for concern” (but really, this time).  Apparently, that’s just how my boobs were built.  I was fine.

Except I wasn’t.  I was shaken.  I walked out of that hospital feeling feeble, weak and exhausted and I couldn’t figure out why.  Wasn’t I supposed to be “more than a conqueror?”  So where was that strength of mind and peace of soul that I had expected?  It had never shown up.  I had prayed for the Lord’s presence, assurance and comfort, yet came out on the other side unable to point to God’s involvement in any of it.  I was stumped.  Had I done something wrong? Had I auto-piloted right through that situation and missed God in the midst of it?  Or had God just stood me up?  Had He just not shown up when I needed Him?

(Thus, the ensuing wrestling that I alluded to earlier.)

Cue the internal dialoguing:  “What was that, Lord?  Where on earth did that even come from? And where were you during all that?”

When what I believed about God collided hard with the hard reality of my life, for a moment my reality became greater than Him. And as I’ve wrestled this week, working hard to distinguish my emotions from the real state of affairs, He has been faithful to pave the very road I’ve been walking with some truths I can stand on…

Your unawareness of my control doesn’t take me out of control. 

Your inability to “feel” my love, my concern, my compassion for you, doesn’t negate it’s existence.

Your unawareness of my presence doesn’t make me any less present.  

Now there’s the truth that trumps all my realities.  No, God had not been absent in any of this.  But my expectations regarding what He would do for me this past week were way off. I was expecting that His presence in the situation would make me feel strong, capable and able to deal with whatever the “additional imaging” might throw my way, but what God’s presence in the situation really did was allow me to be weak.  My weakness, my feebleness, my exhaustion this week were His gifts to me. They reminded me once again I’m not the strong one here, God is.  I don’t have to be “alright”, “ok”, or “fine” all of the time.  As much as I may believe to the contrary, I’m not the one who is actually holding everything together.  I can crumble and the whole thing still stand.  When that little truth finally settles down deep in my soul, it’s going to be a game-changer, I’m sure.  He’s working to take me there.

I was also reminded of the battle that God warned us we were going to have to constantly fight.  A battle of the Heart vs. the Mind.  When what I know to be true about God misaligned with what I was feeling this week, those fickle feelings of mine tried to convince me that God had bailed on me.  Thank God, I know better.  But for a split second as I wallowed in the emotion of how I was feeling, I gave my mind the opportunity to follow my heart.  My deceitful heart.  I allowed my emotions to dictate my reality, and failed to realize that instead, they were leading me away from it.  My emotions do not have the reputation of speaking truth, so I needn’t give them a microphone.  Ladies, our feelings and emotions don’t get to dictate who God is, or who we are to Him.  He does not change, regardless of how we feel.  

It’s time for our minds to step up and take the reigns from our hearts.  It’s time for what we know to be true about God to carry more weight than what we feel about Him or of Him or from Him at any given moment.  The heart contradicts itself constantly, so we must guard it vigilantly with what we know to be true about God.  The heart lies, so the mind must know.  And thanks to this mess of a week, my mind knows just a little bit better than it did before.

Mind vs. Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds. I examine people’s hearts. Jeremiah 17:9-10

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.  1 John 3:19-20

Linked up today at #TellHisStory


Listening for Common Ground

Last Saturday night I stood on a stage in front of more than 100 people with nothing but a podium, a microphone, and some words I had written separating me from a room full of strangers. Blinded and a bit disoriented by the harsh stage lights, my words came slow at first. Hands ice-cold and clammy, voice caught in the back of my throat, I silently repeated the mantra taught by my college public-speaking professor: It doesn’t matter that you’re nervous. Just pretend that you’re not. Three or four sentences in, I found my pace, hit my stride, got lost in the telling of my very own story. The more I talked, the more it became clear that I was actually being heard. A room full of people listening to my telling: A story of my fears and inadequacies, culminating in a loss of control and ending with a hard fought resignation. Heads nodding, breath bated, sighs of relief and tears of understanding. I guess in my story some of them recognized their own.  Common ground was discovered lying right there beneath that story.



In seven years, 1 month and 23 days of motherhood I have already gained a lifetime of stories. Yes, these three boys of mine have armed me with an arsenal of tales. Tales of hilarious predicaments – bedtime, bathtime and dinnertime shenanigans galore. Stories of those near-perfect moments of pure love and joy; the newborn asleep on my chest, breath heavy and even; the chubby toddler hand curled up inside my own; the gaping, toothless smile of my six year old climbing into the backseat of our car. Everyday is a story of it’s own. Some beautiful. Some heartbreaking. In some, I shine – the mother every child wants – loving, gentle and self-assured. In others I stumble, falter, and fail – too frail in my own abilities to help grow them in theirs. Story upon story, each one builds upon the next until you get a whole life out of the beautiful mess of those jumbled stories.

These stories make us who we are. It’s a part of the human experience to share these stories with one another. This is how we make sense of the world. This is how we find our place in the world. We tell our stories. Truth be told, though, my preference is to tell my stories over a cup of coffee. With a close friend. Or a like-minded sister. It’s safer this way. I risk much less. Little stands to be lost in the type of environment where you are known and loved and people assume the best of you and your motives. But last Saturday, I stood beside ten other story-tellers and together we threw caution to the wind. One by one we took our place behind a microphone that amplified our stories and risked a little bit of ourselves in the hopes that something might be gained. And we had every reason to believe that it would.

In the months prior to last Saturday night, the eleven of us had dared to do exactly what we were asking of the audience that night – we had dared to listen for common ground.


LTYM pic

The thing about common ground is that it almost always exists, but it can be oh so difficult to spot. We’re prone to pile our differences up over and on top of it. When I walked into the first rehearsal for Listen To Your Mother at the end of March, there was not too much common ground in sight – and believe me, I was looking. A room full of strangers, each one of us varied. Accents and personalities galore. From reticent to unruly, our motley crew ran the gamut of dispositions. Yet despite our differences, we sat in a tight circle and one by one made our way to the front of a much smaller audience to read the words that revealed a portion of each of our lives. And somewhere in that process of telling and listening we unearthed an entire mountain of common ground.

And I, the type-A, perfectionist, control freak mama of 3 boys found common ground


with a woman who had been a mother since she was 12 years of age.

Betty LTYM

with a man who shares his mother’s temper.


with a mama who raised a criminal.

Donna LTYM

with a daughter of a fruitcake.

Lauren LTYM

I could go on, but I guess you get the picture.

We shared and we listened, we laughed and we cried, we formed a bond that we extended with open hands to a much larger audience just last Saturday night. Perhaps most importantly, we learned that when you take the time to really listen to someone’s story you judge less and love more. And that, my friends, is no small thing.

Tell your story.  Someone is listening.



Find out more about Listen To Your Mother show here.  And be sure to check out the South East Texas show’s page here to hear from some of the the other speakers and directors from this year’s show.