Monday, July 29, 2013

Insecurity and the Overcomer

Although I had booked a room for myself at a conference I recently attended, shortly after I checked in I discovered I had an unwelcomed roommate. It wasn’t one of the seven hundred women who were gathering for She Speaks 2013, nor was it a confused hotel guest.

No, it was no other than a former acquaintance I thought I had kissed goodbye a while back.

Insecurity, with her attendant baggage of lies and self consciousness tried her best to tag along with me. She trailed me to meals and whispered things like, “Look at all those women eating together. You’re going to look so awkward sitting alone—or worse yet, barging in on a group’s conversation. Their average age must be thirty. Who’d want to pay attention to someone as old as you.”

I reminded her I was a daughter of the Lord and it was up to Him when and where He was finished living through me. Insecurity is a stubborn character though. She followed me into the lecture hall, but slunk to the back when Lysa Terkeurst opened with the admonition to “let your identity, not your insecurity lead in a situation.”

I thought I had lost her until I walked into my small critique group where I would give a five minute speech, along with the other eleven women. I’d always been confident about speaking before groups but was suddenly overcome with insecurity’s presence: “You’re just talking about something God did for you a long time ago. These women have ministries and lessons for today’s woman. “

And then her coup d’ etat: “Look at there! Mandisa is in your group! Sure hope no one wants you to sing. Now you’re really out of your league.”

Sure enough, there sat Mandisa. She said God was calling her to speak more and although she had no problem singing, she was actually nervous about delivering her speech to us!  

“Ha! I whispered to my lying shadow. “Even a stage savvy, gifted woman like her gets nervous. Our God has gifted me as well in different areas, and He can say what He wants through my mouth and my writing. I am His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works as much as every other woman in this room.”

As each woman began her message, the Lord took over and spoke healing, redemption, freedom, and grace. Insecurity moved to the back of the room but caught my attention after several powerful deliveries and mouthed, “They’re all so good.”

In turn, I stepped to the lectern, opened my mouth and let out my story of the mighty deeds of the Lord—timeless deeds regardless of age or season. Insecurity moved toward the door.

Mandisa stepped forward, did a few warmup jumping jacks to shake off her nerves and banged out her message with as much power as she does her songs. 

Then, wedged in there in between the bathroom and the microwave counter of the little suite we were in she gave us another gift and sang "You're an 


I looked behind me in time to see the door close as Insecurity slithered out.

Yes, our hearts may race and our palms sweat but we are OVERCOMERS in Christ! May we set that ever before our eyes.

Blessings friends,


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Say Shibboleth

Hi there. I know it’s been a while. Sometimes you just have to go do a different thing. In fact, research on the brain shows that brain cells thrive on new activities. This is good news for those of us who grew up thinking we had a set number of cells that were irreplaceable. So for the past few weeks I have left off with thinking/writing words and have been playing with house plans.

I’m not an architect, nor am I comfortable with numbers and measurements, but I enjoy making houses, moving rooms around depending on light and traffic flow, and seeing how creatively and efficiently I can divide space into function and beauty. This is in hopes of building my final house this side of heaven one day. 

 Now that those brain cells have been satisfied, I've returned to my computer.I wanted to discuss some thoughts about being a church member and even whether or not you think it’s important to attend church,(inspired by Thomas Rainer’s book, I Am Church Member) but I will put that on hold til next week because you know how certain songs get stuck in your mind?  Well for days I've woken with this going through my head:

Say Shibboleth.

Say Shibboleth.

Say Shibboleth.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Shibboleth was the word the Gileadites used to ferret out the imposter Ephraimites who were trying to cross the Jordan. It was a simple test based on a quirk of speech. The Ephraimites couldn't pronounce sh and thus were snagged when they said Sibboleth.(Judges 12:6)

Many countries since have used linguistic passwords to identify friend from foe. According to Wikipedia, for example, American sentries in the Pacific arena used lollapalooza as a shibboleth for Japanese spies who mispronounced the letter L as R. Thus, a pronunciation of rorrapalooza was grounds for fire.

But the connection of Shibboleth in own mind has to do with the deception of the times, especially for those of us living in North America. We have been so blessed as a people that I think we have let down our guards and instead of testing the persuasions of culture, we are giving way to the rapidly approaching darkness that disguises as enlightenment and love and tolerance and inclusiveness.

I think of how John the Baptist lost his life holding God’s law up to Herod—it was unlawful to have his brother’s wife. Imagine what he would have done with same sex marriage, the dissolving of the family, and the abandonment of our children to sexual exploitation (see the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview.)

Jesus not only warns us there will be false prophets and deception in our midst, but He exhorts us to not get weary, to run with endurance. To not let the popular and easy persuade our affections. I suspect weariness is as much a danger as lack of discernment.

We not only need
to apply the Shibboleth test to the confusions of culture—clarify our own understanding of a biblical worldview.) Is Jesus Lord in this situation? Is it according to the will of the Father?

But also
to practice it in the daily little things so we are strong in the big ones: 

Shibboleth—Jesus is Lord of my today, of my plain ordinary and potentially boring routines. I will present them as “holy habits of the eternal” (Richard Foster) and offer them up instead of believing they don’t matter or have eternal consequences.

Shibboleth—Immanuel, God with us, here and now. Even if I don’t see, hear, feel Him.

Shibboleth—I set my marker on the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen because I belong to The I Am, with whom nothing is impossible. Nothing. Not even this stinking hard, seemingly impossible situation.

Say Shibboleth. Jesus is indeed my Lord.

Blessings friends. I'm off to the She Speaks Conference this weekend. Looking to get refreshed and rekindled and come back with something to pass on to you.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Parenting: A Time to Hover and a Time To Pray

The term helicopter parent wasn't widely used until around the time our last child was in college.  Even if I had been aware of the label, I don’t think I would have assigned it to myself. No, I think of myself more as a concerned parent –one with long-distance drone strike capabilities.

Just because the kids grow up, get degrees, or hold jobs doesn't mean they don’t need a bit of maternal wisdom now and then. Like the time President Bush came to town to speak at a local university.

Our son was on the Secret Service advance detail responsible for sweeping the area and securing the route.

I knew he’d been highly trained and knew what to look for, but I, on other hand, lived here. Not wanting any mishap on my son’s watch, I took it upon myself to drive to Furman, making note of the dangers along the route, as well as the layout of the campus itself.

I called my son with my findings. “It’s a long way from the airport to the campus. I don’t see how you can keep it safe.”

“We know what to do, Mom.”

He tried to reassure me, but then visions of rubber-suited scuba terrorists emerging from the shallow depths of the lake I discovered on campus prompted another warning. “Did you know there’s a lake not far from the field where he will be speaking?”

“Really,” he said. “We’ll make sure we look into it.”

Satisfied that I had done what I could to help my secret agent son keep the President safe, and because I was not a helicopter parent, I refrained from any more patrols. (Although it wasn't until Air Force One pulled up its wheels and headed on to the next town that I was able to breathe easily.)

No, a mother’s work is never done.

Recently our daughter sat for her personal trainer certification exam.  She does have a business degree and is quite capable of studying, but I thought I’d help drill her the last few days before the test.

“Gastrocnemius,” I said. “Sounds like it comes from Latin. Must have something to do with the stomach.”

“It’s your calf, Mom.”

“Okay, I see you don’t need my tips for memorizing muscles, but I do know how to read between the lines for what they’ll test on. Make sure you know all about the Overhead Squat.”

On the day of the exam, I felt prompted to go with her. Helicoptering? Or Lord? I dropped her at the door and decided to wait in the parking lot for a few minutes. About ten minutes later, she emerged in tears. Of all the different exams happening at the same time(cosmetology, dental, etc.) her computer program was the only one that wasn’t working. Every time she logged on, it crashed.

The proctor told her if the IT tech couldn’t fix it, she would have to reschedule—possibly months out. And besides, proctor lady advised, she shouldn’t take it now that she was so upset.

Although I wanted to march right in there and deploy my drone strike, I stayed in the car and did battle in prayer.  

I was so frustrated with the Lord because we already had prayed so much. I was ticked with the enemy in case he was trying to thwart her success, and I was determined to keep at it until the Lord gave me some peace. A half hour passed and she hadn’t come back out, so I assumed they had gotten the program to work.

Still anxious, I needed a specific word, but any word from my Bible was far better than the ones that were in my mind. I began a desperate random reading from a psalm. 

And there it was.

That certain descriptor I’ve used much in the past for prayer for my daughter. It is a word only God knows I use in reference to her. Smack dab in the middle of a psalm about the God of the sanctuary was the assurance of prosperity, and I knew all was well.

Convinced she would pass, I picked up my Writers Digest and enjoyed the wait.

She got in the car and flashed her results: now a certified personal trainer. She said the proctor was so happy when her test results came up on the screen that she hugged her.

After all the exuberant congratulations, I asked,” Were there many questions on the Overhead Squat?”

“Yes, lots! Thank God you went over them with me.”

Ah, . . . A time for prayer.

And a time to hover.  

Blessings of joy and assurance of His care over your children.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Butling On The Rise

couldn't resist using that unfamiliar word. Butling. Right out of Downton Abbey. Except for my summers as a live-in sitter and a brief stint as a house cleaner in San Francisco, I have never butled nor been butled.

But according to an article from Business Week, butling is on the rise on all sides of the sea. The rich will be served, and academies that teach you how to serve professionally are thriving.

Although learning the tricks of the trade (dishwashing liquid for cuffs and collars!) is important, the website of The International Butler Academy, advises that success has a much to do with attitude and character as it does with skill: “You must be willing to put another person’s wishes before your own, and do so with a genuine wish to be of service.”

The academy lets you test that attitude and learn those skills in real-life scenarios experienced in a real castle.
 Learning to be a servant. Hands on.

Sounds like the approach of another servant school I know. One to which I have gained entrance: the Lord’s Academy of Butling and Household Management.

I was, of course, familiar with the importance of being a servant. I knew how the Lord modeled it for us, how He came not to be served, but to serve. I thought I got it.(Although if you read my book, Call of a Coward, you’ll remember I served in lots of ways, but when the kids came asking for my precious chocolate, I did have to slug it out with the proverbial devil on one shoulder and angel on the other.)

It’s one thing to gush over the text book version and quite another to apply it to life, as my current hands-on opportunity to serve my elderly in-law is revealing. Although I do wish to be of service, the “putting another person’s wishes before my own,” isn’t flowing out of me as smoothly as I hoped.

I’d prefer to serve on my own time, in my own way.

My father-in-law’s needs are so few, thank God, but the ones he has are hitting where it hurts, and the Lord isn’t let me move on up from footman status until I relinquish going-through-the-actions-but keeping-a self-will.

I know it’s the Lord because nine time out of ten, when my husband isn’t here my f-i-l sleeps til late morning, or even noon. But when I am here, he is up, dressed, ready for breakfast and wanting to know, “what’s on the program?” by 8:30 or 9:00. It is so predictable I know it’s a lesson for me.

And the lesson isn't in the details of household management. No, making oatmeal or coming up with some errands, whether I have any or not, so Pa can get out, or sitting awhile doing crosswords with him isn't difficult. It’s the invasion into my right to my own time that stirs up the inner murmurings. My reluctance to open my hands and let my rights slip through.

Jesus really has a way of getting to the heart of things, doesn't He?

I think of looking to the Lord and doing the things He leads me to as so visually presented in Psalm 123:                                                                                                                                                                                                          
As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God.                                                         

But service is not just in doing the things—there’s this part also: Serve the LORD with gladness.—Psalm 100. And that’s the part He’s really after.

Welcome to the International Academy of Butling for the Lord where the instructor is merciful, and graceful, and ever-patient.

Blessings dear ones whichever course you are in. Be assured—He will perfect that which concerns you!