Tell Them Who They Are

My youngest son had his first soccer practice of the new season yesterday. He’s been asking for weeks when they would begin – eager, excited. Then the day came and he rolled out of bed and asked why he had to go to practice that night. Now that it was here he was sorting through the nerf wars and friends he would miss after school (and likely the additional listening and rule-following that would be required of him).

I replied, “You have to go because you’re an athlete.”

He smiled. He stood up tall. (And then he ate his frozen waffles and went to school.)

We need to be told, and reminded, who we are. In our minds, we quickly reduce ourselves to the things we do and the things we’ve accomplished (or not accomplished), and so we need other people to tell us who we are.

Identity speaks to meaning, purpose, and belonging. Having a name and hearing people use it makes us stand a little straighter and even a little prouder. I remember the early days of dating my husband, and every time he would say my name, I felt different. I felt seen and adored and admired in a whole new way. When my dad calls me by the nickname he gave me at birth, I remember my history and I feel grounded.

Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and in the most devastating way possible, my twitter feed was filled with the cries of mourning over the death of Jarrid Wilson who had died by suicide the night before. Jarrid was a pastor, a husband, a dad, a friend, a promoter of hope, an advocate for mental health, and the founder of a non-profit called “Anthem of Hope,” providing help to people struggling with suicidal thoughts.

For just a moment, the darkness won and he forgot who he was.

At any given moment, the people around us are fighting hard battles and it can be difficult in the midst of battle to remember who we are and why we fight, why we show up, why we go to practice. We have the power in every moment to help someone else remember…to actually speak life.

Today, tell the people in your life you love them, but also tell them they are loved. They are beloved. They matter. They are seen. They are part of the family. They are a child of the King. They are inheritors of a treasure that cannot be taken away. They are forgiven and they are beautiful, even in brokenness.

The habit you need this fall –

Hey y’all – I’m dropping in on the blog today (I know, you thought I forgot I had one) to share a few quick thoughts on prayer, including some helpful habits I’ve had for years, and also some recent changes I’ve made to my prayer life. It’s the start of a new season and the perfect opportunity to embrace and adopt some new habits so I hope some of mine can inspire and help you with your own.

I want you to know that I believe deeply in the power of prayer. It doesn’t follow that my prayer life has always been reflective of that belief. It’s funny how we can know something to be right and good and true, and still not prioritize it or pursue it. See also, healthy eating and saving/spending money wisely. But I digress…

Here are some rules and habits I’ve adopted over the years to grow and sustain my prayer life:

  1. Never say, “I’ll pray for you.” Several years back, I made a rule for myself, my staff, and our church leadership team that we would not use the phrase, “I’ll pray for you.” It’s way too easy to forget or simply not follow through on that statement. Instead, in any situation where we would be tempted to use that phrase, I challenged myself and everyone else to pray with the person right then and there. Has this led to some awkward moments? Absolutely. I’ve prayed with people in parking lots and bathrooms and hallways and in the middle of crowded rooms where I had to shout directly in their ear for them to hear the prayer. Have we seen God show up and use it again and again? For sure. Stop saying you will pray and just do it. And, yes, you CAN pray out loud – I promise it will be okay.
  2. “Have the prayer life now that you want your kids to have someday.” ~Kevin Queen, pastor of Crosspoint Church in Nashville I heard Kevin say that on a podcast several months ago and it changed the way I pray in terms of honesty, consistency, and urgency. I’ve struggled, particularly in this season of having younger kids, with finding and maintaining a consistent prayer time that doesn’t get shoved aside and lost in the chaos. I’ve blamed time and season, but it’s been me all along. I simply needed to decide and remember that it’s a priority in the same way I want my kids to prioritize their time and relationship with God as they grow older. Now I block an hour every morning for prayer and I keep it. At first, it felt like a lot of time. Now, it often feels like not enough and I keep going past an hour, but I never take the time away. And truthfully, I haven’t missed a beat in productivity. If anything, I get more done because my head is on straight after spending time with God. And I’m honest, so honest I need to find a way to make sure my prayer journals burn and disappear completely should anything ever happen to me. ūüôā
  3. Write it down. Speaking of prayer journals burning, I started writing down prayers in various forms in middle school and high school. I haven’t always kept up with praying that way, but I’ve picked it up again in recent years and I think it helps me on so many levels. First, it helps me focus so my mind doesn’t wander while I’m praying. Second, it gives me a better lens for seeing God answer prayers. It’s easy to forget the things we’ve prayed about and it’s easy to not acknowledge the things God does. When I write down my prayers, I’m more aware of God responding and I can go back and look weeks and months out and be blown away by the ways God is changing me in the process. Side note, by writing my prayers I don’t necessarily mean with a pen or complete sentences. Most of the time, I use the Evernote app and bullet points.
  4. Pick a focus for each day. This is a fun tip I picked up from a woman several years ahead of me in life. She told me she started when her kids were little and prayed specifically for each one of them on a different day. That didn’t mean she didn’t or couldn’t pray for the others on all of the other days, but she focused on specific days. I loved the idea and ran with it. For me, it breaks down like this – on Mondays I focus on Clark (my husband), on Tuesdays I focus on our church and my staff because those are our meeting days, on Wednesdays I focus on our oldest son, Thursdays I focus on our youngest son, and Fridays I focus on me. Saturdays tend to be a catch all and Sundays I’m praying for our worship gathering and the message I’m sharing. As a fun aside, by doing this and writing down prayers, I’m thinking at some point I will collect all of the prayers I have prayed for my boys and give them a copy.

That’s it for now. Another day I’ll come back and share more about things like praying with your spouse (which is a 1000% game-changer) and praying those super honest prayers I mentioned.

Regardless of how you pray – just pray. God wants to hear from you, and we get to go to Him with all of the things.

You Don’t Get to 10 Staying at a 10

I spent this morning in a planning meeting for the 10th anniversary celebration of Ashley Ridge Church – say what?!

That’s right, we’re coming up on 10 years in January of 2020 and we are going to celebrate BIG! (If you’re reading this, make plans now to be in Summerville on January 12, 2020 for worship – no excuses.) That being said, the 10-year anniversary for me and Ashley Ridge is actually only a week away. Planting Ashley Ridge Church became my full-time job on July 1, 2009.

I have so many thoughts and emotions about that last sentence. I look back on the 27-year old mother of a four-month old with varying amounts of cringe, pride, and laughter. If only she knew then what she knows now…bless her heart.

Before I go any farther, let me say this – I would do it all again. I have been changed by what I have seen and experienced and I live to tell with every breath I have left that I have witnessed the resurrecting power of the living Christ powerfully and unmistakably. I want the world to know the Jesus I know and I can’t wait for the next 10 years to unfold!

But, Lord, have mercy, I am tired. This 37-year old mother of a 10-yr old and 7-yr old with 15 years of full-time ministry, 14 years of marriage, and 10 years of church planting/leading under her belt is worn slam out. And I think I know why…

You can’t live every day and every season at a 10. Living at a 10 means keeping the throttle the whole way down at all times, always driving, always accelerating, never letting up on passion or progress. It means blowing through yellow lights and ignoring red lights. It means advance, advance, advance, always making sure the line is going up and to the right. And if it’s not, pushing harder and staying up longer to figure out how to make the correction.

Goodness knows I have spent too much of the last ten years trying to stay at a 10. Goodness also knows my husband deserves many medals for sticking around. I bought all the way into the idea that we should pray like it depends on God and work like it depends of me…I mean us…I mean me. Ah, there it is…staying at a 10 is a product of working like it depends on me.

(Is now a good time to talk about Ashley Ridge’s mantra – the ol’ Life is Better Together? Y’all see how funny God is, right?)

Fortunately, I have had some amazing mentors and friends step in along the way and call me on my crap – and y’all, forgive the term, but that’s what it is. It’s arrogance and ego wrapped into a tidy martyr-syndromed package and don’t let any other people-pleasing perfectionist tell you different.

As we near year ten, I’m learning more and more that building something to last means getting out of the way, learning that my 10 can be more effective when I use all the levels intentionally and strategically. So, here are a few tips:

  1. Pace yourself. As a runner, I know that I can improve my overall pace by learning to slow down a little in the first few miles so that I have more to give for all of the miles. In running world we call this negative splits, and I’ve struggled with it for years. You know what finally helped? Finding good people to run with who are better at this than I am. People who have different perspectives and can pull back in moments I’m tempted to push forward knowing it will serve all of us better in the end. So, pace yourself, or better yet – find the best life-pacers you can and invest in them, trust them. We call these people friends.
  2. Value rest. My second kid decided around the year one mark of his life that sleep was way over-valued. He decided the middle of the night was the perfect time to hang out and build relationships with anyone he could get to. He believed we were better together…always. And, oh, it hurt. Mostly because he fooled us in the first year into believing we were sleep experts on this second-kid go-round. We would spend the next five years of his life learning how wrong we had been. We read all of the books and tried all of the hacks and nothing worked. As he continued to thrive and hit all of the milestones on time or ahead of time, our pediatrician told us that some kids just don’t need as much sleep. (No, we didn’t fire him.) In the meantime, I conveniently began using my kid’s lack of sleeping as an excuse (or a cover-up) for my late night obsessing and working. Anyway, long story short, I decided at the end of last year that I was tired of being tired. I invested in a better pillow, bought a giant pack of Zzzquil to help correct my broken sleep patterns, and started going to bed a lot earlier. Turns out, I’m a better human with more sleep. Going to zero for a few hours maximizes the hours I spend at a ten. All of this is obvious to everyone – we just have to do it.
  3. Remember it’s not about you and it never has been. And if you can’t remember that on your own, back to finding those high-quality friends and giving them real permission to speak that truth into your life as needed.

I never could have imagined these last ten years or scripted anything that would have come close to the reality, but man, I am grateful, and I want ten more, and another ten after that. So here’s to the level 5 vacation days and the level 7 catch-up days and the level 1 opportunities to remember how desperately in need I am of the grace God so freely gives.

I’m looking forward to sharing more of what I’ve learned in the last, or dare I say “first,” ten years in the months to come!

A Tale of Greek Yogurt and Growth

I used to dislike greek yogurt. I even went so far as to publicly dismiss its chalky texture by way of a Sunday morning message. Boldness characterized my distaste for the actively-cultured, protein-laden dairy delicacy.

Now I eat the stuff almost every day.

“What changed?” you may ask. I tried it again. I allowed others to challenge my assumptions. I made room for growth (see what I did there? – a little yogurt pun).

I wonder if other areas of my life could use some of the same treatment…

This morning I read about Abraham, who “never wavered in believing God’s promises,” (Romans 4:20). Yet even as he never wavered in regard to his belief in God, he allowed everything else he understood and thought to be challenged. He left his home for an unknown land. He lived in a portable tent when he could have stayed more comfortable in a permanent tent (“Permanent tent” – ha, that has to be an oxymoron). He took his much-wanted, long-awaited son on a hike to be sacrificed. Basically, he went all-in on the promises of God, which meant a willingness to question everything else he thought he knew.

I want to be open to that kind of growth. I want to be so intent on getting better that I’m willing to tear down strongholds in my life. I want to be humble in a way that acknowledges the arrogance of my own perspective…because my perspective is not reality.¬†¬†I want to live in a world where other people are willing to do the same.

So maybe we should all practice a little. Maybe you need to try greek yogurt again. Maybe I’ll give seafood another go. Not mushrooms though – those are fungus.

Ambition, Wanting More, and…Generosity

I want more.

I want to write a book people buy and read. I want to speak in front of thousands. I want our church to thrive and have greater and greater influence for the Kingdom. I want a marriage that will make Coach and Tammy Taylor look like they barely noticed each other. I want to run faster and swim faster and bike faster – preferably by June 8th. I do not want more kids. But, I do want to be a better parent to the ones I’ve got.

And then there’s Paul over there all holy toga and wise with his, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition…” (Philippians 2:3).

What about just regular ambition? Is that okay? And while I’m asking, how will I tell the difference between the selfish kind and the regular kind?

I’m sure John Crist would say, “Check your heart.”

I’m checking it. The read-out suggests partial Godly ambition and partial vain conceit. Maybe I’ll check again after lunch…

I’m convinced that wanting more is part of the human condition. I’m also convinced it can be good. When we want more, we believe better is possible. When we want more, we work harder and pursue growth. When we want more for someone else and leverage our own influence for their good, now we’re talking.

But when we want more for the sake of ourselves…well, now we’ve got a problem. When we feel jealousy over other people’s accomplishments instead of joy, we’ve ventured into the danger zone.

I’ve been there – not in a Top Gun kinda way.

Here’s what brings me back: Generosity.

You probably thought I was going to say gratitude. And I could have because being grateful and remembering how much we have is a helpful antidote to a lot of our unhealthy wanderings. However, gratitude on its own can leave us in our heads – a dangerous place to dwell. Generosity invites us to put gratitude to work. Generosity asks us to think of someone else. Generosity moves us out of the realm of what we can’t do to what we can do. Generosity shows us we have something to offer – our time, our creativity, our skill, our resources.

After Paul said we should stop doing things out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, he said we should do things out of interest for others. His example: Jesus. Jesus who was God and had all of the things, gave everything up for us.

The more I give, the less I want. But also, the more I give, the more healthy my desires grow.

So yea, there is such a thing as Godly ambition. Let’s give until we get there.

An Invitation

God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change. (Romans 2:4, The Message)

And so here we are in the weeks leading up to Easter. If you grew up in a traditional church, you know this as the season of Lent – a period of 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to the events of Holy Week where Jesus met with his disciples in an upper room, prayed with them in the garden, and then was betrayed, arrested, beaten, mocked, and crucified.

I know what you’re thinking – let’s bring back Christmas, only with warmer weather. But go with me here for just a moment.

We really do need all of the seasons. We need Christmas and Easter, times to mourn and times to dance, periods of thanksgiving and periods of repentance.

This season is the latter, and we need it. I need it.

I have laundry lists of frustrations – frustrations with the people around me who insist on sharing my immediate space but not cleaning up in the manner I prefer, frustrations with systems and cycles that seem broken beyond repair, frustrations with the actual laundry that never seems finished and intent on multiplying, frustrations with our government and all of the people on all of the sides who can’t seem to act like responsible adults, frustrations with mountains that won’t seem to move no matter how many times I insist they do so, and wouldn’t you know it, frustrations with me – because no matter how many times I decide I’m not going to do the same things I’ve done, and no matter how many times I set out to do better and be better, I just can’t seem to get it all right.

I need some time to repent. Only repentance isn’t the act of seeking out more ways to feel guilty and sit in shame, and beat myself up over my faults and failures. True repentance means acknowledging my weaknesses, and creating the space and time to make the most of the grace being offered to pursue radical life change from the inside out. God doesn’t want my fixed behavior. He wants me – all of me.

A season of repentance starts with a season of willingness to be seen – to take off some of the masks and let the one who loves us most sort through our mess and lead us with kindness toward a better way. It’s a season of dealing with the root sins and not simply improving the fruit sins.

For some of you, this season may start tonight in a church service somewhere with ashes placed on your forehead to remind you that you are dust and to dust you shall return. For some of you, you’ve made a list of a few things you’re giving up to make you more aware of sacrifice and create more space in your life to pray. For some of you, you’re still trying to figure out where you are regarding faith and what you believe about Jesus, but I want you to know this season can be yours too – a season to ask questions and know that doubts are allowed.

For all of us, I want to invite us to a season of repentance. Don’t worry, laughter is still allowed (also, encouraged) and joy gets to be present, always. But don’t miss the opportunity to be still, to be seen, to be led in kindness toward life-changing, life-giving transformation.

Have mercy on me, O God,according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:1-12)

Being Right and Doing Right

My recently minted 10-yr old believes himself to be a preteen. In his words, “10-year olds are preteens because 11 and 12-year olds are post-preteens.”

Bless. Just bless all the children.

Anyway, as a “preteen,” my son’s expectation is that he can now play some of the video games (exhibit a – Fortnite) we have heretofore prohibited on basis of age and stage – and also because we just didn’t want it. We’ve started the conversation about introducing it, but so far haven’t come to a decision.

So, when he ran into the house yesterday afternoon with a friend, begging to play, I told him he knew the answer to the question. His friend pointed out that he would have to download the game and sign-up, but he wouldn’t have to pay anything. (Oh yes, please tag-team the mom, a winning strategy approximately…never.) My son jumped on the train in his preteen enthusiasm and told me he had already downloaded it and signed up so he was ready to go. Upon seeing my face and grasping his error, he immediately added, “Dad knows.”

You can see where this is heading, right?

I texted the aforementioned Dad, who was still at work, to confirm the lie I knew was being told.

My 10-year old did not play Fortnite last night.

With friends gone and little brother off at baseball practice with Dad later in the night, I sat down with a tearful, repentant kid who desperately wanted to explain that he wasn’t actually lying. A year and a half ago when we got the Xbox, he had downloaded and signed up for the game before we realized it had happened. As soon as we did, we disconnected his ability to download and talked about what he could and couldn’t play. So, yes, in that sense, Dad knew the game was downloaded. But, my son also knew that wasn’t what he was leading me to believe in his earlier plea.

I asked him if he could tell me the difference between being right and doing right. Here’s what he said –

“Being right is when you are factually accurate. Doing right is when you do the right thing even if it’s not what you want to do.”

Parents, there just may be hope after all.

I’m picking on my kid with this story, but I also explained to him last night that adults mess this up all the time. We live in a world where we think we’re justified in our behavior if we can simply find a way to be factually accurate. Only, those things can always be distorted in our favor.

How many of us are committed to the idea of doing right above and beyond being right? I think the world would be a different place – in our governments, our schools, our churches, our neighborhoods, our homes – if we had the same passion for doing right as being right.

I don’t think it’s easy. In fact, I think it’s really difficult. When my husband got home from baseball and was able to join our conversation, he shared that simply going 24-hours with a commitment toward total and absolute honesty is a difficult task.

So, here’s the deal we made with our son that I will also make with all of you – let’s commit together to going a whole week practicing absolute honesty and prioritizing the work of doing right over simply being right.

And if we can do that, then we’ll sit down together and check out Fortnite to see if “preteens” in our house can start playing occasionally.

As always, in this thing called life together…because it’s better that way.

Three Questions to Get You Started and Keep You Going –

What are you reading?

What are you thinking about?

What are you doing?

Yesterday we ate the traditional New Year’s Day fare for luck and good fortune. (That meant pork and sauerkraut for my crew – and, yes, the house still stinks!) For many, we packed up the last of the Christmas decorations and cleaned our houses. And as we did those things, we dreamed and plotted for the new year we rung in with hope and celebration.

Today, the work begins.

I offer these three questions as both a guide and a challenge. I’ve learned that I can do a lot of things, but if I’m not reading and thinking, a lot of my efforts are in vain. And if I’m reading and thinking but not doing, well then, I’m stuck.

The world never became a better place because of something someone thought. It’s better because they translated their thoughts to action. And the great thinkers found ways to share their thoughts in a way that invited the whole community to act.


What are you reading?

We need the voices and experiences of others to remind us we are not an island. Our ideas and perspectives are formed by our own experiences and we limit ourselves to a very small world without seeking the experience and perspectives of others. I challenge you to read broadly this year.

The same goes for listening. What podcasts are you listening to? Whose voices are you inviting into your thought process?

I’m starting the year with a Pulitzer Prize winning novel called “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson. I’m only a few chapters in and already the language is a little rough and the content a bit graphic, but I’m already finding myself drawn into the story of a young man born and raised in North Korea whose life and thought is radically different from my own. He grew up without a mother, and with a father who didn’t acknowledge him as his own. It’s making me wonder and marvel about people who have to raise themselves, without mentors and parents to guide their moral compass. I already have questions I’m kicking around in my mind. Reading always leads to thinking…

What are you thinking about?

No one will pay you to think. Nor should they. They will, however, fire you if you don’t. As they should.

A counselor has taught me in recent months that my M.O. in life is to actively not acknowledge nor process my own feelings. “I’m fine,” is my mantra. Without delving into the recesses of my psyche (we’ll save that for another day and another post), I think the same can be said for many of us when it comes to our thinking. We get so busy doing, we forget to stop and think. Or we think, but we don’t process our thinking so it gets acted on in its most basic and elementary formulation, which doesn’t always serve us – or anyone around us – well. (see Brene Brown’s work on the “SFD”)

What would it look like for you to think on purpose this year? How could you take the time to acknowledge what you’re thinking and how you got there – to ask the next question? Carey Nieuwhof says, “We are a culture of strongly-held and weakly-formed opinions.” I think he’s dead on.

I’ll be doing a lot more writing this year – some for the world to see, and much for my own active process of thinking. And speaking of doing…

What are you doing?

All of the reading and thinking in the world matters little if we don’t get out of bed every morning and do something with it.

I am a communicator. I speak and I write. Only, a lot of my time gets spent leading the organization I helped to start. That work is essential. However, it easily becomes my excuse for not doing the speaking and the writing when, in fact, the speaking and writing are my greatest contributions to the organization. This year I’m doing the things – all three of the things.

How about you? You can’t get unstuck without moving. And sometimes you don’t know which way to move without trying a direction and finding out it’s the wrong one. But you have to start somewhere.

Cheers to all of you and to a new year of reading, thinking, and doing!

“It’s Just a Phase…So Don’t Miss It”

Newborn days…the words “exhausting” and “black hole” come to mind.

Toddler years…can you say, ¬†“TANTRUM CITY, BABY?!?!”

Elementary years…I’d like to talk about who’s actually in school during these years because hello paperwork, projects, reading logs, oh my!

Teenage years…”you got to pray just to make it today” (so says MC Hammer, not sure if this is what he was referring to…)




Empty Nesting…Caring for Aging Parents…

Legacy Years…

We tell ourselves “It’s just a phase,” to remind ourselves that whatever we’re dealing with now won’t be forever. The sleepless nights that come with infancy, the tantrums of a 3-year old, the scary start-up phase of a new business, the sandwich years of caring for aging parents while still caring for young adult kids, and the list goes on and on…

More often than not, the phrase has a negative connotation. “It’s just a phase, it’s just a phase, it feels crazy now, but it can’t go on forever.” And it’s because whatever phase we’re in currently feels like the most difficult phase simply because it’s where we are¬†right now.

I get it. In fact I think we need to make a societal pact that we’ll stop telling people who are struggling with the phase they’re in that they should just hold on because the next one is harder. Y’all, STOP IT! The tired parents of twin babies who haven’t showered in days do not need to hear about the trials and tribulations of teenagerdom waiting to trounce them.

Because here’s the thing about phases – they simply don’t last. So, what happens when we decide to not miss the phase we’re in? What if there are unique opportunities in every phase that we’ll forego if we’re simply waiting on what’s next, or surviving for what’s next? What if we could make the very idea of a passing phase the motivation to get back up today instead of waiting for tomorrow?

Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy introduced this idea in their 2015 book, “It’s Just a Phase–So Don’t Miss It” as they broke down the life stages of kids from birth through 12th grade. I highly recommend this resource for parents of kids in those ages/stages. In the book, they talk about how we think in each phase, and the questions we’re asking in each phase, but most importantly, they talk about the distinct opportunities we can leverage in each phase to impact someone’s life in significant ways. Check out this chart they created –

Phase Overview Timeline-01

I won’t attempt to summarize the book and explain all of the phases, but if you’d like to dig deeper into the idea, you can check out the five-week message series I just finished at Ashley Ridge Church here.

For today, I simply want to encourage you – don’t miss the unique opportunities of where you are right now – challenges and all. God will use all of it, and He’s certainly with you in all of it.

Start Over. Start Here.

This week I had one of those days that makes you want to quit – quit trying, quit hoping, quit working, quit showing up, quit putting yourself out there, just quit.

I’m probably not supposed to tell you I have those days. I’m a pastor. I’m a leader. I’m supposed to see truth, rise above, be good enough and holy enough and “enough enough” to lay down my selfish desires and my pride and my feelings. Surely Mother Theresa didn’t have bad days…

But I do. I’m so good at them that sometimes I have bad weeks just because I’m in the zone.

This particular day was so ugly that my husband looked at me with big eyes after hearing about some of it and said, “Babe, you just need to start over tomorrow.”

Start over.

I’m tired of starting over. I’m tired of putting it all down and letting things go. I want to feel like the ladder to the finish line is getting closer and less like I’m taking the chute back down to square one. I’ve started over, and I’ve started over again – and, heck, I’m even a starter by nature. I like to start things. And yet, there has to be more than starting over and remembering His mercies are new every morning. (I mean, that’s good and all, but…)

Start over.

And so, I got up at 4:45. I ran my four miles. I helped get my kids out the door and on their way to school. I drank my coffee. I read my Bible. I drank more coffee. I listened to a podcast driving into work. More coffee. I prepped for staff meeting. I answered a couple of emails.

I was starting over, only everything still felt the same. I knew I was still bracing for whatever hit may come next or first in the new day. And then it hit me (the other kind of hit) – it’s not simply the starting over, it’s also the place from which we start.

My inclination is to start over with more effort, greater grit, higher capacity, but that’s all starting with me, me, me – and Jesus says, “Come here.”

Start here. We don’t work out of our own capacity. We get to work out of His…because grace.

I’m still sorting through some of the crazy of this week and also moving on to what’s next, but some of you probably need this reminder too.

It’s almost never as bad as it seems in the moment. Whenever we’re stretched, we’re vulnerable to so many lies our brains want to write to help us explain what we can’t understand.

And so, we rest.

Start over.

Start here.