A Cell with No Lock

A lot of people have great conversion stories. I’m not one of those people. I wish that I were, but my “conversion” story is pretty mundane. Church is woven through every memory I have. Church for me was just a part of growing up like going to school and family dinners on Sunday afternoon. In some ways, I’m jealous of those who can pinpoint the exact moment or time period when they first believed. My nephew, Chase Chism, is one of those people. This week, my sister-in-law, Shala Rudd, shared a video on social media of his testimony. The Power that overtook him when he first believed jumps out and grabs you! My “run-of-the-mill-grew-up-in-the-church” story doesn’t have that same zing to it. Read more

Justice is Served

I’ve spent the better part of the last twenty-five years pleading a case. My office was a courtroom where I arranged facts for a judge so that he or she would ultimately see things my way. Of course, there was usually someone on the other side of the room who arranged the facts differently in the hope that the judge would see things their way instead.

The judge didn’t always see things my way. If I’m being entirely forthright, then I must admit that sometimes my version of the facts wasn’t always the best version. Then, there were other times when I still feel strongly that the judge sided against me wrongly. My facts were better, but justice wasn’t served.

Don’t you feel a little like that when seeking justice in your own circumstances? You are dealing with a cheating spouse. Thieves run off with your car. A “friend” gossips behind your back. A drunk driver hits head on. Where’s the justice? Read more

High Water Mark

As I write this blog entry, the city of New Orleans is marking the thirteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. On August 29, 2005, Katrina came ashore just east of the city. For those of us in the area, we breathed a sigh of collective relief as peril appeared to skirt around us.

Then . . . the levees broke. Read more

Lost in Lament: A Whale of a Tale

On July 24, 2018, Tahlequah (aka J35) gave birth to a beautiful baby calf, sending waves of joy throughout the Pacific Northwest. Tahlequah is one of only about seventy-five remaining members of a species of endangered whales. The region’s (and now an international following’s) joy was soon doused in a tsunami of grief with the untimely death of the calf barely thirty minutes after birth. Tahlequah went into full-on-momma-whale mode. For over a week now, the endangered killer whale has been “tending” to her dead calf – meaning she refuses to let go, literally.

For days, she has pushed the deceased calf through the water with her forehead. Tahlequah has carried the calf by its fin. When tides and currents pull the calf’s body under the surface, Tahlequah musters the kind of strength only a parent can and dives deep into the belly of the sea to retrieve her lost baby. Read more

Prickly Prayers

Have you ever been faced with a scary or confusing situation and didn’t have the words to deal with it? There was one evening when the girls were very young that their Mimi babysat. When I picked them up to go home, I noticed that the television was set to The Exorcist. Shame on me for not asking the girls how they felt about what they might have seen, but kudos to Megan who at the wise-old age of four had the courage to open up the conversation. Her simple question exposed her confusion and fright, “Mommy, do devils eat little girls?” My response came too quickly to have been my own, as I blurted, “Not if you have Jesus in your heart.” That evening, we modified the words of our bedtime prayer from “deliver us from evil” to “deliver us from the devil.” Read more

In Too Deep

If you haven’t heard about the plight of a Thai youth soccer team that unfolded over the last couple of weeks, I say, “Have you been living in a cave?” (Poor pun intended) In are, you missed it, twelve boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach found themselves in a heap of trouble while inside a cave. In spite of signs warning about the dangers of the cave complex – especially during monsoon season – there they were doing what boys will do, writing their names on the wall as part of an initiation. The rains, however, failed to check the calendar and came early. The cave began flooding, and the boys were forced to seek refuge deeper inside the underground caverns.

Have you ever done anything that you were warned not to do? Anything? You know – where the warnings are crystal clear, but you barrel ahead anyway. Appropriately enough, one of my earliest memories involves defiance of clear warnings. Read more

The Struggle is Real . . .

Writing this blog has become an outlet for me as I process the loss of my daughter. It carries the hope of not only transforming me but others as well. I enjoy the process of producing the blog. I find comfort here. So, I was surprised this week with how much I’ve struggled to write the blog.

In fact, I’ve spent countless hours searching for the “perfect” topic. I’ve scrapped drafts of two different blog posts. And, I’ve struggled.

Then it dawned on me. Sometimes, the struggle is real. Sometimes, we just have to give ourselves a little grace. Sometimes, we need to refocus. Sometimes, we need to re-center.

I’m really good at doling out advice. But, this week, all of that advice applies to me.

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activities celebrating Brooke’s memory. Her birthday was June 12th. On the same day, Professional Women of St. Tammany awarded two scholarships in her memory. A few days later, the Southern Yacht Club held the second annual swim-a-thon in Brooke’s name.

I’m tired. Not the kind of tired that can be wiped away with a nap. Rather, the kind of tired that settles in your bones. Can you relate?

This time last year, I was reading A Case for Hope by Lee Strobel and journaling about the scriptures that he highlighted in the book. What follows is an excerpt from my journal in June of 2017 – just a couple of months after the accident:

A Case for Hope – Day 10:

“For I know well the plans that I have in mind for you – oracle of the Lord – plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The “letter” (scroll) containing this verse was written by the prophet Jeremiah. The scroll was addressed to the elders of the people exiled in Babylon. The essence of the message is “don’t waste your time in exile.” Even while in exile, God continues to lay a foundation for prosperity, hope, and a future. These are His plans for us.

This chapter of Isaiah seems to confirm my belief that my focus must remain on hope. The trickier part is to move from trying to focus one’s mind on hope/ a future – to living with hope. Truly living.

When does the day come when it no longer feels like living in a shell? When will the shadow be cast out? As I write that question it dawns on me that shadows are only seen in the light. On cloudy days, the shadow can’t be seen.

On the harder – cloudy days – the pain settles in a like a misty fog. On “sunny” days when the sun peeks out from the clouds, the shadow is still there. When I catch a glimpse of it, the shadow overtakes everything.”

Fast forward back to the future, what have I learned in the past year?

  • God’s plan for us is one of hope.
  • When the plan results in loss, hurt, or despair, it’s not God’s plan.
  • Hope doesn’t mean that all will be made (my version of) right on my timeline.
  • Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Hope is the firm foundation that paves the road between this life and eternity.
  • Hope is what assures me that not all of our days will be misty and blue.
  • Hope is the thing that destroys death’s power.
  • Hope is the guarantee that one day He will wipe away every tear.
  • Hope is the promise that eternity will overshadow every hurt of this world.
  • Hope doesn’t disappear on cloudy days.
  • Hope is the motivation to pick up the pieces and to try again.
  • Hope is the place where we can seek solace when the struggle is real.

SDG