Do YOU have a clogged drain?

If you or anyone in your house has long hair, you’ve no doubt encountered clog drains at some point. That hair just wraps around, coiled and unmoving, until no water can pass through at all.

Sometimes a bottle of Drano will help. Sometimes you have to call the plumber. But somebody or something has to get in there and unclog that drain.

Between my long hair and my husband’s almost-as-long beard, we are no strangers to pulling out wads of hair in sink and tub drains.

But the mess I just unclogged wasn’t in my bathroom at all; it was in my heart.

A spiritual clog is ten times worse than a physical one.

I knew there was a battle. I’d even written about it. Car repairs, a needed floor repair, health issues….it seemed like the more that went wrong, the less I turned to God.

Shouldn’t it be the opposite?

But I’m a control freak. Ask anyone; they’ll tell you.

The problem with being a control freak is that you don’t leave much room in your life for God to operate.

When you don’t allow God to operate in YOUR life, He can’t use you in others’ lives.

My husband would ask me, “When are you going to write again?” I’d get frustrated with him. Didn’t he understand? I WANTED to write but had nothing to say. My well was dry.

It was all because of that clog.

Sure, I’d pray. And that still, small voice would gently remind me. You’ve got to let go.

But I couldn’t. Or rather, I wouldn’t.

I’m not sure that I ever made a conscious decision to let go. What I did was I got up, I stopped hiding out from the world, and I became obedient. I visited, I ministered, I shared with those I came in touch with. Little by little, I felt myself letting go. There’s nothing like ministering to others to put your own problems in perspective.

It was as if a bottle of Liquid Plumber had been poured into my heart and unclogged the drain that had been choking the very life out of me.

And just like a real drain, the water became flowing through.

The words I’ve written this week have flowed freely. They’ve bubbled up from inside me and I pray that with each devotion, each blog post, and each chapter the Lord is able to use my words to reach someone else.

I also pray that He helps me keep that need for control in check.

Of all my shortcomings, it’s the one that gets me in trouble the most.

A Mother’s Love…times a billion

I love heart-to-heart conversations with my children. The older they get, the fewer and further between they become. They are, after all, young adults finding their own paths in this world.

Still, it’s a treat for a mom when one of her kids wants to just sit and share what’s on their mind. For me, it rarely happens on the phone but often does when we are together in person.

My middle daughter is a prime example.

She won’t reach out by phone but the conversations we have when I visit are deep and meaningful. They often end with her wondering why she didn’t come to me sooner.

Quite simply, I always understand. I made her; she’s a part of me. And my love for her holds no condemnation, no matter what the circumstances.

I wonder why she would even doubt that.

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Lately, I’ve been going through some trials. Some annoying (a floor that is in a perpetual state of being refinished), some frustrating (a car that took its last breath), and some scary (a needed surgery I can’t afford).

I’ve done my best to practice everything I’ve preached. Be patient; the floor won’t be like this forever. Be grateful; my husband has a new truck and doesn’t mind driving me anywhere I need to go. Have faith; the Lord can provide the money needed for surgery or heal it to where I don’t even need surgery.

But sometimes I’m just overwhelmed and I retreat into a world of fiction in books and television shows. The more I escape, the less I talk to the Lord. Then I become ashamed and retreat even more.

I found myself in this very place a couple of weeks ago. It had been several days since I’d prayed and I was scared. What will He say to me? Does He hate me? Is he disappointed in me?

I approached Him with great trepidation.

I ended the conversation with great relief.

It hadn’t been a one-sided conversation. I listened to the words He spoke deep within my heart. Words full of love and understanding. Words that made feel loved and understood. Words that soothed my troubled soul.

Why didn’t I do that sooner? What was I so afraid of? When has He ever not understood?

All of a sudden, I thought about my daughter. I’m just like her, I thought. When will I learn?

I understand a mother’s love. I’ve been a mother for over half my life.

It’s time I started realizing that the Father’s love is even greater.

The Effects of Earnest Prayer

My husband started off last night’s sermon in the first chapter of Titus. That particular passage held no special meaning for me but the page in my Bible was the beginning of a whole new life.

You see, several years ago I was in a mess. Not the drug-fueled haze of my youth or the anxiety of a drawn-out custody battle but rather the turmoil of what’s known as the Snowball Effect.

We’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives. One thing happens, then another, then another…and suddenly, you’re trapped in an avalanche that you never saw coming.

Mine started when the kids left home. When you have kids close together in age, the time between the first one leaving home and the last one leaving home passes by in one big blur. And when you have said kids at such a young age, the adjustment from kid to mom to empty nest feels like your entire identity has been erased. Suffice it to say, I had the empty-nest blues.

Then came a move that I wasn’t ready for. It had taken me four years to adjust to leaving my hometown and it was time to move again. My new teaching job was already difficult when I got news that I needed a major surgery.

Before I knew it, I was in a very dark place. Misery may love company but company doesn’t love misery. Family and friends backed away as the black cloud of gloom surrounded me, making me feel even more depressed. (It’s easy to see when you are out of that fog, but it’s hard to understand why you feel abandoned when you are in it.)

While recovering from the surgery, I made the decision to leave teaching and took a job as a full-time children’s librarian. That job brought me such joy and being out of a failing school district relieved a great deal of stress.

But like anything, it was two steps forward and three steps back. I was still a victim of my own making, creating chaos where there should’ve been none and still biting back daily tears of regret as I rued the time I’d wasted when my kids were younger.

I was so blinded by this grief that I forgot from where my joy came.

I’d like to tell you that one day I woke up, started praising the Lord, and life became perfect.

But it didn’t happen like that.

What did happen was that I was dusting my bedroom one day and I picked my Bible up off my nightstand. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that the only time I’d even touched my Bible in months was when I dusted. Sure, I talked about God but I wasn’t talking TO Him. Task-oriented, all I wanted to do was finish my cleaning so I could watch television. But I had enough conviction that I flipped open the Bible, where it landed on Titus, and wrote, “Lord, help me. The only time I pick my Bible up is when I dust.”

I didn’t write any more; I didn’t follow up with a prayer. I didn’t join a Bible study or start reading scriptures. That’s all I said. That was all I HAD right then.

But it was enough.

That short, sincere prayer started the wheels of Heaven moving.

I’m not even sure I attributed what happened next to my little prayer. All I knew was that I started seeing light where there once was darkness. My body got stronger and my mind got clearer. I started praying again. Within six months, my husband was offered another church and I was asked to be a full-time outreach minister. This time, I was ready to go wherever He wanted me to go.

My life changed to one of service, joy, and peace. Being a full-time minister, especially in today’s times, is one of the most rewarding jobs I could have. I have the pleasure of serving side-by-side with my husband and I have been able to pursue my long-held passion for writing. I love our laid-back country life with our front porch rocking chairs and our loyal dogs, and in just a few months, Grandbaby #11 will make his appearance.

I’m not sure what trajectory my life would’ve taken without that prayer, but thankfully, I don’t have to find out.

Sometimes a simple, earnest prayer is all it takes…