Sunday, July 31, 2016

Are you resisting moving to Canada?

“Jeff Cook wants to sell your house if you’re moving to Canada because of Trump or Clinton.”  That headline caught my attention recently when the Charleston City Paper posted it on social media. The short news article included a picture of a billboard featuring the claim, “Moving to Canada? We can sell your home.” The billboard also had pictures of not only real estate agent Jeff Cook, but also both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

We saw the billboard in person when we made a trip down Highway 17 a couple of days later. No, I’m not planning to sell my house or move to Canada, but I thought it was clever marketing. Clever, and funny.

I’ve read about celebrities and other well known people making the declaration that they will move out of the United States if the less than desirable candidate, in their opinion, is elected. Moving is expensive and exhausting. That’s a lot of effort and expense that might be better spent right here trying to make this country more like what they think it should be. It would save them the trouble of updating a passport, packing up the junk in the attic, and dealing with customs at the border. I haven’t heard many claims about what they will do if their preferred candidate gets elected.

A few years ago I found myself in a difficult situation, perhaps surprisingly not of my own doing. The actions of other people were forcing me to make decisions I didn’t feel I was ready to make yet -- or even at all.

If I had seen that billboard then, I might have been tempted to take it way more seriously and who knows, could even be speaking French by now. My struggle was not about a presidential election, but it was about the authority over and in my life. I no longer wanted to be around the people who were forcing difficult circumstances on me.

I wanted to flee. As a matter of fact, that’s all I wanted to do. I was tempted to run away and never look back. Even people close to me encouraged me to go, just quit and get out. I was certain the grass was greener anywhere and everywhere else.  I was so tempted.

I searched for scripture verses that might help me justify fleeing. After a little research and reading, I didn’t find much confirmation that fleeing difficult situations is always a definite “yes” in God’s book. Mostly, summing up the verses I found, the Bible directs me to flee temptation, not difficult situations. Specifically, flee the temptation to sin.

I also searched for scripture verses that would help the pain and anguish of dealing with the difficult circumstances and people. I found verse after verse about persevering. I read verses about endurance, putting on armor, fighting the good fight, pressing on, standing firm, and on top of all that, being joyful about it.

Be joyful about hanging in there and flee the temptation to sin. It’s not always easy.

Sometimes you have to flee the temptation to flee.

It didn’t happen overnight, but I finally realized I had developed strength by persevering under the pressure of those difficult circumstances. That strength gave me the ability to relieve those overbearing people of the counterfeit authority in my life that I had unwittingly assigned to them. It really wasn’t theirs anyway.

Here are fourteen words that say it all: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

We don’t have to flee. We just have to give God the authority over our lives. Let Him deal with those overbearing people and politicians. Then we’ll see the backside of the devil as he’s running away. Isn’t that a joyful thought! 

This was originally posted July 31, 2016 on 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Be a lug nut in a dark world

It was nearly midnight when the phone rang. It startled us both out of a peaceful sleep. Any time the phone rings at that hour, a bit of panic creeps up and forms a lump in my throat. It’s amazing how many what-if thoughts can go through your mind in the short amount of time it takes to fumble around in the dark to find the phone and hit the right button to answer it.

Thankfully, this time it wasn’t any kind of emergency. The caller probably didn’t have any idea what time it was. He just needed to talk to my husband. The caller didn’t say anything that Scott hadn’t heard before. This same conversation happens about once a week. This was just the first time we’d been woken up from a deep sleep for it.

A few nights ago we heard a knock on our front door followed by the doorbell ringing. It was about 10:30 PM. We had not gone to bed yet, but I already had on my pajamas. Scott was still dressed. We looked at each other for a minute, then he went to the door and opened it. It had happened before, so we were pretty certain about who was standing on the other side of the door. This visitor comes by every now and then, and is usually in need of something. We’ve provided sandwiches, toiletries, prayer, and sometimes just conversation.

This has been one of those weeks when those kind of interruptions came one after the other. Scott found himself facing several people in need. The needs ranged from getting someone a tank of gas for an emergency trip to planning a funeral. Scott willingly engaged in all of them.

After a couple of days, he was beginning to feel the tug from the things that were actually on his calendar that needed to be accomplished before Friday. His to-do list was still undone and now he had less time to do it. If he had passed those disruptions off to someone else, or just said no, he might have been finished with his work. He chose to keep them and say yes.

As far as I know everyone he faced this week was grateful for his help. I think he realized it too. He and I were talking about doing the small things for others when, in his witty way, he said, “Without the lug nuts, the wheels won’t stay on the bus and we’re not going anywhere.”

I think he just called himself a lug nut. He was simplifying the message that the little, seemingly insignificant things are important and that having needs met really matters most to those in need. The route the bus is scheduled to take doesn’t really matter if there are no lug nuts to hold the wheels in place.

A day or two after the lug nut conversation and a few more interruptions later, he wearily asked me why people in need seem to be drawn to him. He questioned whether he was just a sucker and a softie.

Without hesitation I responded to his question, “They are drawn to the light in you.”

I think that’s the way God designed it and why we need each other.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

When a city on hill looks out beyond the hill, it doesn’t see it’s own light. It sees the darkness. In the same way, sometimes it’s difficult to see the light in ourselves. So, how do we know we’re not just suckers and softies who can’t say no? People who need us to hold them up and help keep them on the road will be drawn to us.

When they show up at your door, be the best lug nut you can be. It’s a dark world out there.

The was originally published July 13, 2016 on

Monday, July 4, 2016

Tell It Like You're Running Out of Time

I had the same ringtone on my phone for as long as I’ve had my phone, but I finally bought a new one a couple of weeks ago. Now when someone calls me I hear, “…the room where it happened, the room where it happened, the room where it happened…”  It just tickles me every time I hear it. I start singing along, tapping my feet, almost forgetting to hit the accept button and say hello.

The song that ringtone is made from comes from the current smash Broadway show Hamilton, An American Musical. It’s about the life of Alexander Hamilton. I’m not sure how I first heard about this musical, but I have gotten drawn in to all the hype surrounding it. I am taking it all in: YouTube videos, critic reviews, blog posts, Twitter feeds, whatever I can get my hands on that has anything to do with this musical. Did you see the Tony Awards a couple of weeks ago? There is a LOT of hype out there, and apparently it’s created the largest history class ever. Scores of people from teenagers to grandparents are learning the lyrics and the historic details.

Much of the music is hip hop. Before Hamilton, An American Musical, there were no hip hop songs on any of my playlists. I bought the 2-disc CD set. Now, because I’ve memorized some of the lyrics, I think I can rap.

I bought the 800-page book written by Ron Chernow that it was based on. I’ve never read an 800-page book of any kind just for fun, much less a history book. I’m still in the process of reading, but I haven’t given up on it yet. It’s fascinating.

What I knew of Alexander Hamilton before Hamilton, An American Musical, was limited. I knew he was considered a founding father, had something to do with the Constitution, and his face is on our ten-dollar bill.

What I’ve learned about him since is that he was an orphan born in the Caribbean who made his way to America by way of a scholarship because of something he wrote. Once on American soil, he wanted to do other great and noble things, and he did, but it was his writing that seemed to make a difference in the lives around him and in the life of our country. A current that flows through the musical is that he writes like he’s running out of time because no one is promised tomorrow. Get as much done today as you can.

A couple of years ago I heard a music publisher speaking to a crowd of musicians. He told them, “If you’ve been given a platform of any kind, say something.” It was one of those moments that marked me. It’s still fresh in my ears.

I guess that’s why Hamilton has resonated with me so strongly. Hamilton took every advantage he had to say something; his writings are proof. You and I are some of the benefactors of his words. He died when he was 49. That left a lot of tomorrows he never got.

None of us are promised tomorrow. “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-24 NLT).

I think we’ve all been given a platform of some kind, maybe not as a founding father or as a stage musician, but there is someone standing near us that needs to hear words that remain forever.

If we share the words of the Lord on the platforms God’s given us, we may not be promised tomorrow but those words are. Not only will they remain forever, but they will accomplish what He intended when he gave us the platform in the first place.

Say it. Write it. Don’t throw away your shot. Tell it like you’re running out of time.

This was originally published July 3, 2016 on