Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How to Find Beauty in the Fog - The Glorious Table

The radio deejay warned us to use headlights. Dense fog threatened to slow the morning commute and cause accidents. I felt no fear, but I still used my lights, and I counted on other drivers to do the same. I needed them to be visible as I turned onto a busy road and could see only a few feet in front of my vehicle. My heart thumped as I pressed the gas pedal, hoping no surprise would appear out of the mist. Even our familiar path felt strange and different in the fog. I drove with an extra dose of awareness.




That morning drive was easy compared to the days when fog seems to fill my whole life. I hate those days. Indecision paralyzes me. My stomach feels sour, and all I can think about is how easy and straightforward other peoples’ lives look. I want to bury my head in the pillows, refusing to move until the fog lifts. Even then, I know the only way out of this life fog is walking to the edge of it, one tiny step at a time.
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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Three Signs Your Life Is Too Busy - The Glorious Table

Stacy the guinea pig had lived a long, happy life. I, however, felt terrible. My husband and son were adventuring in Canada while I held down the fort at home. Not twenty-four hours into my solo parenting time, I began to feel the telltale signs of strep throat. You can only “mom” so well from the couch, which narrowed my goal to basic survival.
We were getting by on Pop-Tarts, PBS Kids, and amoxicillin when my daughter’s loud question woke me. “Why is Stacy so stiff?” My eyes popped open, and I was suddenly wide awake. The guinea pig was in her outstretched hands, inches from my face. Its arms were outstretched, too, in the final pose of obvious death. My daughter was four. I was sick, and Scott was off the grid in the Canadian wilderness. This was not the moment I had scripted for a serious discussion about death.
We found a Stacy-sized shoe box and then realized we faced a conundrum: burying her. She belonged to my son, who was gone, and it didn’t seem right to bury her without him home. My mind, in its drug-induced haze, offered only one solution. Put her, shoe box and all, in the deep freeze and wait for them to get home.
The boys came home, but life got away from us, and the little shoe box in the back of the deep freeze was forgotten. People usually laugh at this part of the story, imagining a guinea pig alongside our hamburgers and pork roasts. My brother-in-law had a different take. He contemplatively said, “Maybe a guinea pig in your freezer is a sign that your life is too busy.”
Join me at The Glorious Table to finish this essay and read about the lessons I learned about leaving the too-busy life behind.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Are You Raising Kids with a Legacy in Mind? - The Glorious Table

I love old books. Maybe it’s the smell of history that rolls out with the crackly pages. Maybe it’s the tone of authority old-fashioned English gives to the words. Maybe it’s knowing the words are the only remaining living parts of the author. Certainly it’s the look and feel of a proper cloth binding.
Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret is a skinny red book that grabbed my attention for all those reasons. It was printed by China Inland Mission in 1935 and bears the name of its previous owner in flowy script. It was written by Taylor’s son and daughter-in-law, who followed him as missionaries to China.
To this day members of the Taylor family are continuing the work Hudson began in China. During his fifty-one years there, he recruited eight hundred missionaries to join him. They went to China trusting God to meet their physical needs without any fundraising. Hudson used unconventional means to gain entry into the hearts of the people. He adopted Chinese dress and many other customs. The fruit was great. Over eighteen thousand Chinese converted to Christianity as a direct result of his work.
Hudson’s life was full of adventure and service, but also trouble. His family endured typhoons, riots, and fires. They were robbed and maligned, and experienced significant health challenges. He buried more than one of his children in China as well as his first wife. Even so, his adult children followed and continued the work.
Hudson Taylor’s story has always been an enigma to me. I’m drawn to his daring trust in God and the certainty of his call, yet haunted by the cost those things demanded. I need to understand how such faith develops and continues into the next generation. As I read my pretty red book, I wrestled with the juxtaposition of the deep longings of my momma heart. I pray my children will be brave and follow the call of God into lives of daring satisfaction. But this prayer takes my breath away. I can’t help wanting my children to be safe and have long and peaceful lives.
One concern must win out over the other; they aren’t good teammates. I have to choose which fear to heed. I can fear pain and loss, or I can fear missing out on a life of adventure and purpose. If God is who he says he is, the choice is clear. How can I want less than adventure and purpose, even if it comes with sacrifice? If the future demands sacrifice, part of my parenting job must be to prepare my kids to withstand it.
There is much more to the story God taught me - continue with me at The Glorious Table.


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Following the Call of Jesus - The Glorious Table



“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The Christmas trees were huge, all lined up close together with their branches touching each other. And she was just a tiny thing, barely able to walk!”
The Christmas season isn’t complete without my mom beginning one of her favorite stories with these words.
The fear in my gut as she tells it must be a phantom feeling born of the forty-plus times I’ve heard the story. Nonetheless, it takes me right back to those pokey branches separating me from the safety of my mom. The only way back to her was through those branches. I froze. Fear blocked my way as surely as the tree. My eyes were screwed shut, so I didn’t know Mom had turned to face me until she spoke. Instead of scooping me up in a rescue, she knelt down and called to me. Her voice encouraged me to venture straight into what made my toddler mind scream, “Danger!” and became louder than the fear.
I ran.
Eyes clamped closed to block out the danger.
Arms outstretched towards safety.
Heart pounding, breath short.
Little legs not able to move fast enough but determined not to stop.
Branches pushing against me.
Listening to the voice I trusted.
Relationship trumps logic. It happened with me and my mom then, and it happens with me and Jesus today.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How to Beat Your Mom Fears - The Glorious Table

The stakes were high, and I was a novice. Choosing my firstborn’s school put my beloved son at the mercy of my meager mom skills, and I was desperate to get this right. I couldn’t sleep. Fear had me wrapped in knots. I was afraid of events that hadn’t happened, yet they were haunting me like ghosts.
I was afraid my son would:
  • not be academically challenged
  • not be emotionally safe
  • face peer pressure he wasn’t ready for
  • leave “the bubble” and see darkness in the world
  • not leave “the bubble” and have no impact on the darkness
  • leave “the bubble” too soon or too early
  • have needs that would change after I chose a school
  • have brothers and sisters whose needs would be different from his

Being a mom is a serious endeavor. The development of an entire human being is placed in our care. Studies say their little brains are wet cement and will bear hardened imprints of our choices. This weight hangs on our shoulders every day as we wipe noses and mix macaroni and cheese. The fears can be crushing.
Mom fears multiply and fester when left in the darkness of our own thoughts. Intense love for our kids can cloud our usually sound judgment. We may even aware of our brain fog, which gives us another worry to add to the list!
Follow me over to The Glorious Table for the rest of the story and the antidote I found to Mom fears!

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Make Kindness Your Mantra - The Glorious Table

“Hearts don’t break around here.” ~Ed Sheeran, singer/songwriter
During spring break I was poolside, soaking in the sun and feeling happy to have a good pair of sunglasses and an engaging book. Sunny music interwove itself with my good feelings, courtesy of my daughter’s newly created spring break playlist. The songs ebbed and flowed around me, largely unnoticed until a certain lyric emerged out of the fluff. The singer crooned, “Hearts don’t break around here,” and I had an epiphany.
That’s what I want! When people look at me, I want them to see kindness swirling about me like Pig-Pen’s dirt cloud from the cartoon “Peanuts.” I want my heart to create a force field of safety that protects the hearts of anyone who gets close to me. I want to be a giant, walking source of comfort and healing. I want kindness and care to radiate from me like a soothing balm.


I think it’s clear that being a “hearts don’t break around here” person is also what God wants for me. His Word encourages his people to behave this way from beginning to end. It seems this kind of living was his goal for me all along. The Garden of Eden is a clue that extreme kindness was the original plan. God put two naked people in the garden, and I’m quite sure this wasn’t evidence of poor planning on God’s part but purposeful design. His plan for us was an extreme vulnerability, body and soul. This makes sense in an environment where sin hasn’t been conceived because it’s the recipe for extreme connectedness. Life outside the garden is much different and more dangerous. But as God’s ambassadors of peace, it’s our job to reclaim bits of the garden, carry them around in our hearts, and offer them to others...
Read more at The Glorious Table today!

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

For When You're Mad at God - The Glorious Table

The problem with crying for days is it tires me out—mind, body, and soul. Coherent thought drains away. Gumption to struggle through is gone. Finding my tears can’t change the outcome is a shock, my mind numb to what’s next. The only reality seems to be the ugly pit of feelings I find myself in, slack and spent.


That’s when my tears change from the salt of sadness into the fire of anger. When I think I’ve cried all there is to cry and yet more tears flow over my raw, cracked skin, something boils up inside. I’m mad. Mad, mad, mad! My heart cries, “Unfair!” and demands to know if God sees me. The list of credits I’ve logged to my account through obedience, walking hard roads, and following calls is held up in my shaking fist as proof I don’t deserve this. I don’t want it, and I’m screaming in frustration at my inability to bend God to my will. Suddenly yesterday’s truth of comfort, that everything comes from God’s hand, feels like a sharp prod pushing me into a dark and scary place.

Read more at The Glorious Table!