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.

February/March 2021 Media Picks

Of course, I have to plug my upcoming Proverbs book. It’s my excuse for not blogging lately. 🙂 It’s not necessarily the reason BUT it sounds better than my bed is so warm and my office is so cold. Or that it’s easier to edit my husband’s books than to write my own sometimes! But we are going on a vacation/writing retreat for a few days and I hope to finally finish my Pruning with Proverbs book while he starts his next Bible study. (He currently has The Book of James out while I’m editing his Book of 1st John. I’m also waiting on the illustrations to be completed for the sequel to Gumbo the Bayou Dog so we are enjoying our writing side careers very much!)

In the meantime, we are available for ministry 24/7. At first Covid slowed down some outreach but lately we have 8-9 people (some strangers; some we know) stopping by regularly for help, counseling, or prayer. We’ve done middle of the week weddings and last-minute funerals. We consider it all a blessing and I LOVE that we live and work next door to the church so that our home becomes an extension of it.

My song for this month comes from a couple of funerals we’ve done. It was released in 2015 but I heard it for the first time last year when we did a funeral for the daughter of church members. The family of another church member also selected that song for a funeral we did last week. It’s similar to I Can Only Imagine but told from the perspective of those left behind. It is a sweet song but definitely sob-inducing if you are grieving. Listen to Dancing in the Sky here or visit the Media Page:

The movie I chose is an upcoming Netflix release. It’s their first faith-based film and I’m excited to watch it while also being nervous about recommending a film I haven’t yet seen! Proceed with caution! Here’s the info listed for A Week Away:

Based on an original idea by Alan Powell and directed by Roman White, the pic centers around Will Hawkins (Kevin Quinn), a troubled teen who has a run-in with the law that puts him at an important crossroad: go to juvenile detention or attend a Christian summer camp. At first a fish-out-of-water, Will opens his heart, discovers love with a camp regular (Bailee Madison), and a sense of belonging in the last place he expected to find it.

Additional cast includes Jahbril Cook, Kat Conner Sterling, and Iain Tucker. The film, which was shot in Nashville, will feature reimagined songs from some of the biggest hits in Contemporary Christian Music history as well as original music from the film’s music producer, Adam Watts. Paul Becker and Melena Rounis choreographed the dance numbers.

Music! Choreography! Romance! Redemption! This really does sound like my kind of movie!!