Together we make the perfect pair….

I’ve rediscovered something I’ve always known this week: my husband and I make the perfect pair.

Not just with life in general, though that is true. He is the yin to my yang; the salt to my pepper. He is calm and level-headed while I’m impulsive and passionate. Neither is good, or bad, in itself, but blended together it makes for a peaceful yet still exciting life.

I need him to help me think rationally when I’m ready to throw a stick a dynamite on an already charged situation. He needs me to drag him out of his recliner and twirl me around the den like we are reliving our proms.

That’s what makes great partners and leads to a well-balanced life.

But today I’ve realized those differences apply to our spiritual lives as well. Our trip has been a prime example. After the first three days, he became restless. “I could just sit around at home,” he’d say.

“But not with this view. Or the lack of interruptions,” I’d counter.

Because he loves me, we’re still here. There’s no doubt that he’d have been back home days ago if it weren’t for me. But tomorrow we do have to leave. And I am not ready!

I want to stay another month. I was looking into a return stay by Day 2.

This is a perfect metaphor for our spiritual walk. In fact, just last night he told me there were things he should be doing. He had a calling and he wasn’t fulfilling it by sitting around and doing nothing. We had a life back home and this vacation was entirely too long.

I understood exactly where he was coming from. That was part of the reason for the vacation to begin with- he never takes time to rest. I admire that he ministers 24/7. While my ringer is off 50% of the time, his never gets turned off. He has a burning fire that is all-consuming. Taking time to relax and disconnect from the world isn’t something he enjoys doing.

I, on the other hand, do not want to leave. If this is a mountaintop experience with the Lord, I want to stay here. I know that I must come down off the mountain (literally and figuratively) in order to fulfill the calling on MY life. But I am going to take advantage of every second I have while I’m here. It’s a gift- of restoration and rejuvenation- and we all need those times in our lives.

I’m not saying I’m right and he’s wrong. Quite the opposite, I know that my fire sometimes gets down to smoldering ashes that need a starter log to kick it up again. What starts as resting in the Lord turns into laziness. And selfishness.

So even spiritually, we blend well. You need both.

You might need the time of rest. You might need the fire starter. Or you might just need to learn how to balance both. That’s all life is sometimes. A balancing act.

Make sure you keep your spiritual life balanced. If you don’t, every other area of your life will get out of whack.

As for me, I’m enjoying these last few hours of this mountain. And while I really could stay here indefinitely, there’s a renewed fire to share the gospel once I get home. I know it’s time.

Want your own mountaintop experience? It doesn’t have to be a literal mountain. Any time where you decompress, disconnect from the world, and plug into Christ alone will work. No reservations required, just an open and willing heart.

A Mountain Retreat

I feel like I’m just right under Heaven this week. The stars are so close- it’s like I could reach out and grab them.

My husband was having some trouble with his vocal cords that would eventually lead to surgery if it didn’t heal on its own. Preaching around 10 services a week wasn’t helping it heal so I decided he needed to get away for a few days and rest his voice.

It wasn’t entirely selfless; I wanted a vacation too. We looked at several options and settled on this pet friendly cabin nestled high into the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Georgia/Tennessee line.

We couldn’t travel without our dogs. 🙂

We are on Day 6 of our vacation. I could stay another week; he’s ready to go home. But we are both enjoying the trip. It’s been great to disconnect from the world and spend time with each other and with the Lord. We’ve each worked on the books we are currently writing, watched some movies, played some pool, and enjoyed the beautiful nature around us.

The view today is definitely obscured. A layer of fog (called haze by my weather app) has given me almost zero visibility and yet it is still gorgeous.

I was sitting on the porch swing listening to the rain and the birds. This is the real-life version of the setting on my sound machine.

The cool breeze and mountain rain provided the scent of what I normally pay Bath and Body Works to bottle up and ship to me.

This is amazing.

But the thing I realized today was that the fog represented the world. It represents the struggles and fears and everything that I’m up against. Sitting on the porch, that fog remains in the distance and I am surrounded by beauty and peace. I don’t have to go into the fog today. Sometimes we put ourselves in treacherous situations unnecessarily while we should be sitting back and resting in Him instead.

But sometimes, just like our approaching check-out day, we will have to go into that fog. It may be clearer that day or it could be worse, but when the time to go is here, God will be too. He will see us down the mountain, through the fog, and into the safety of our home. But only if we let Him.

If you are surrounded by such a haze as this, pray for the wisdom to know when to sit back and wait and when it’s time to push through. The answer isn’t always easy to discern but if you listen to that still, small voice, you will know and He will guide you.

If God subscribed to the Cancel Culture…

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cancel culture.  a way of behaving in a society or group in which it is common to completely reject and stop supporting someone because they have said or done something that offends you.

Uh-oh. Right off the bat, I’m in trouble because I know that I have (sometimes willingly, sometimes unknowingly) said and done things to offend people. My kids, my parents, my friends, my coworkers…..look, I mess up. Even now, with my life devoted to Christ, I still sometimes say the wrong things. Does that mean my life is over? That I should be ostracized?

Worse yet, what about all the times I’ve offended God? Has He canceled me?

I know that we are in a very divisive climate right now. Some of it is completely unnecessary and some of it is long-overdue. I know that my perspective comes from a place of privilege and my eyes have been slow to understand the plights of others at times. But I’m striving to listen, to speak out, and to be a light in a darkening world.

I won’t always get it right.

Fortunately, my circle is small enough that my mistakes are largely ignored. (Except by two of my daughters who’ve deputized themselves as my own personal woke police!) But for others, people in positions of power or just plain celebrity, it’s one strike and you’re out. I just can’t get on board with this.

Where’s the grace? Where’s the forgiveness? “Canceling” someone (or their business) over something they said that offended someone is just perpetuating the hatred we are trying to move away from. People search social media pictures from years past just looking for some reason to vilify someone.

So many things have happened in the past week, both in my real life and in the news, that all boil down to this cancel culture and I’m very unsettled.

A reality star came under fire this week for a photo of her wearing a Yeezy jacket with a Confederate flag on it from 7 years ago. My question is not why Kanye West could make it but she couldn’t wear it, but why someone is going through 7 years of photos to take this girl down.

Another reality star attended an antebellum plantation party in college a few years ago. Not only are people upset with her, they are calling for the head of the popular host who defended her. I’m from the South; I get it. But excusing it feels like throwing a match into an already uncontrollable wildfire. While he may permanently lose his job over defending her, I admire that he stood up for her.

Yesterday I read about a mayor in a small Texas town who posted a rambling message about how people who froze to death were stupid and it was their own fault. I was shocked by his statements but was even more surprised to see he resigned the next day. Was this the first time he said or did something so offensive? Was a heartfelt apology even an option? Or are we back to one strike and you’re out?

I’ve always wanted to run for office. I’d love to serve on a school board or a city council. I love being a part of a community and I love making my voice heard even more! I know I’d be a great elected official. But I figured out long ago that the offices I held would only be appointed ones. People do deep dives to dig up dirt on elected officials and you barely have to turn over the topsoil to get me canceled in today’s culture.

What if God operated on the one-strike-you’re-out policy? I’d have been out a long time ago. He sent Jesus just so we wouldn’t be condemned by our mistakes. He gives grace when we don’t deserve it. He shows mercy for us even when we are at our worst.

Education is good. My eyes were really opened when I took a church member, a non-English speaking Latino, to the ER. He was days, if not hours, from having to have his foot amputated. When I stepped out to make a call, they wrapped him back up without treating him and discharged him. I was appalled. It wouldn’t have happened if I’d have still been in the room and it certainly wouldn’t have happened if I had been the patient. I fought through the system to get him treated (staying with him every step of the way) and after 8 weeks of wound care, he was healed. It was my first experience seeing privilege from the opposite standpoint and it made me understand so much more.

I had another epiphany just today, one that made me thankful that the Lord continues to open my eyes and heart. We were having breakfast at Waffle House and one of the servers had a birthday crown on with the dollars pinned to her shirt. I’ve seen this for years, always thinking it was crass. I certainly didn’t grow up this way, I’d think.

I didn’t grow up that way, I thought today. I grew up with lavish birthday parties and presents and cake. Most of the people who wear birthday dollars never had such luxuries. That money is probably all they get. I was humbled and ashamed for not realizing this before.

I am doing my part to be understanding of the plight of those around me. We should all strive to see things from others’ perspectives.

But we should also all give grace and forgiveness when others fall short. Just as God so freely gives us.