Inspirational Musings

Hiding in My Hoodie

I was in a 5th grade classroom this week and overheard two girls talking, “Why you wearing that hoodie anyway? It ain’t cold. You just hidin’.”

The weight of her words hit me hard.  Don’t we do the same thing?

We hide our wrinkled, imperfect faces with concealer and powder. We cover our gray roots with color from a bottle. We wear sunglasses to hide the heavy bags under our weary eyes. We close our mouths in pictures, ashamed of our crooked smiles.

We wear long coats to cover the panty lines and baggier pants to hide our figures. We stretch our t-shirts so they won’t hug too close or we wear clothes that look bigger so no one will see our bones. We hide our hair under a hat on a bad hair day and we wear closed toe shoes to cover our less than perfect feet.

But the hiding doesn’t stop with our appearance; no, that’s just the beginning. See, we hide in a crowded room by disappearing. We hide our broken hearts by putting on our “life of the party” hat. We hide ourselves in our jobs so we don’t have to face the real us. We busy ourselves in the lives of our children and live through them but never live for us.

We mask our pain with the bitter lies of insecurity and we believe that we will never be enough. We put on our happy face in public when just below the surface is a flood of emotions that we are too embarrassed to release. We hide in shame for fear of rejection from our friends and families. We hide in our addiction to food, drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, exercise and excess. We run away from life because it just seems to be too hard.

All that we want to do is put on that hoodie and hide from thZ01IVQC8the world. We think it’s safe in there. We don’t have to answer to anyone. We don’t have to try to fit in because nobody sees us. We can keep our lies, secrets, shame, fears, rejection, and heartache bottled up in that safe hoodie.

But when we wear that hoodie, we are alone. We are trapped with all of the things that we don’t want anyone else to know about us. We begin to believe the lies that no one will ever love or want us if they really knew us. We play the tape over and over again that convinces us that there is no hope. We believe that God messed up when he created us and that if he cared he would just take away all of the pain. We pull away instead of reaching out. We blame instead of seeking answers. We use our words to cut instead of build up. We trust our emotions instead of trusting in God. We hide. And when we hide, we die.

We have to stop believing the lies. We have to stop playing those old tapes over and over again. We have to remind ourselves that we are valuable, loved, and cared for by a mighty God who sent his only Son to die just for us. We have to realize that we are not the only people who are hurting in this world and sometimes when we get the courage to say we are hurting, other “hoodie hiders” are free to share, too. God created us in his image, the image of Light, and he created us to live life in communion with others.  1 John 1:5-7 says, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” We can’t hide and be in the Light at the same time. But look at the last verse, “we also experience a shared life with one another,” and we can’t do that with our hoodies on!

So when life hits hard and all you want to do is hide- take off your hoodie. When insecurity is screaming lies that you feel are true and it’s hard to even believe an ounce of truth- take off your hoodie. And when you’re ashamed, afraid or beating yourself up for past mistakes- take off your hoodie!

Because after all, “It ain’t cold. You just hidin’.”

Inspirational Musings

My Thoughts on The Shack

There has been quite the buzz in the Christian community about The Shack coming to theaters. I read the book many years ago and was deeply moved by this fictional tale of a radical God causing radical change in a man’s life. I have read the articles and opinions on both sides of the argument on whether to go see this movie or read the book.

When I originally read this book, I was challenged to view God more personally and not to keep Him in a box. I loved the fact that the author presented God in a non-traditional way. I understood fully that this was a fictional account and that the author’s theology as presented in the book WAS NOT THE BIBLE, but I also knew that God used this book to penetrate some hard areas in my own hard heart. I didn’t have the urge to run to The Shack for more answers, but I felt like the The Shack pointed me back to a place of depth and repentance and I longed to dig deeper with God through reading His Word and spending time with Him. The book opened my eyes to the fact that I limit God, that I make judgments about Him, and that I don’t really take the time to know Him.

Now, many years, two kids, and a job change later, I saw the movie and got to reenter the world of The Shack from the point of view of a mother. I left with so much. I want to love and love big while I have the chance. I want to strive to dig deep in my heart to get all of my hurts and pain out in the open so that I don’t create a chasm between my family, friends and most importantly, my God. I want to lead others to a place of repentance and deeper understanding of the hard questions in life like, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” I was so challenged by the scene where Wisdom allowed Mack, the main character, to act as judge and make a choice as to which one of his children he would choose to send to heaven and which one to hell. He finally said he could not choose, so please let him take their place. It’s like the light came on and he realized the great love the Father had by sending Jesus. I saw a father, deeply hurt by the loss of a child, come to a place of restoration and healing and it makes me want to remember to run to God when the pain gets too great.

The crazy thing is, I didn’t leave feeling like my theology was challenged or that this movie was trying to change my beliefs. I left wanting to be a better person. I left overwhelmed with God-sized questions and emotions. I left with a list of people that I want to encourage to go and see this movie because they are trapped by their own pain.

I look at all of the movies out there that I could spend money on right now and none of them will ever leave me with the desire to seek Jesus with my whole heart the way this one did. So, maybe these thoughts and opinions stepped on your toes or cause you to disagree. I’m okay with that. Maybe you feel the need to comment and try to spark a debate. I probably won’t respond.
Just know three things.  First, if you are a new believer, make sure to discuss any new concepts from the movie with a mature believer in Christ. Second, this is a movie, not the authoritative Word of God. Third, God can use whatever he chooses to reach people and He can absolutely use The Shack.
Inspirational Musings

Lasagna Slinger

My mom cooked a store-bought lasagna for lunch Sunday (if you know my mom, this a very rare occasion). Everyone had already taken a seat as mom started walking the piping hot pasta to the table. About three feet away, the container began to bend. Mom, realizing what was happening, shifted and tried to catch it without burning herself, but it was too late; the lasagna splattered upside down on the floor.

Mom froze. She had just ruined lunch (at least in her mind). What was she going to feed her family? I could see the look of total devastation falling across her face.

Well, as soon as mom froze, David and I jumped into reaction mode. “We got this!”  he exclaimed. I quickly grabbed a thin, flexible cutting board and carefully slid it under the upside down lasagna as David held the pan in place. Together we lifted it up off the floor and set it, still upside down, on a cookie sheet and gently removed the upside down bottom pan from the lasagna. Dinner was saved!

Mom, slowly moving from her frozen state back into the new reality of a salvaged lunch, was just amazed that we even thought to do that. Lunch was great. It didn’t look as pretty as before, but it still served its purpose and it still tasted pretty good (we just ate the layers that had been farthest from the floor).

As we were eating I couldn’t help but think about how our lives are a lot like this lasagna. Sometimes we start to bend when life gets too hot and before we know it, we are splattered face down on the floor. Sometimes, we get frozen in place and can’t figure out what to do next. Thankfully, though, that’s when God swoops in and says, “I got this!” He slides His strong arms underneath us and carefully plops us back into life. The glorious thing is that no matter what shape we are in, we are still His. He can still use us and we can still serve a purpose. Sometimes we aren’t real pretty and we are a falling apart mess, but God can still use us just like we are, mess and all!

After lunch I walked up to mom and said, “You can sure sling a mean lasagna.” We both chuckled and talked about how fortunate we were to figure out a way to save lunch.  As I am typing this, I can’t help but be thankful that when I’m a lasagna slinger, Jesus swoops in and is the ultimate Lasagna Saver! He takes our mess and makes us useful for his kingdom’s purpose!

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us. We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-9


Inspirational Musings

“I Got You, Buddy”

My boys were out back playing yesterday. We are working on a project and right now our backyard is every little boy’s paradise-a giant pile of dirt! The bank where we dug the dirt out is extremely steep and Carter has managed to figure out a way to climb up on his own. Well, everything that big brother does, little brother wants to do. I’m up on the top of this high bank looking down as Daniel is desperately trying to climb it. He is fussing and hollering, just desperate for someone to help him. Carter comes up right behind Daniel and starts pushing him from the bottom. There’s no way he would have the strength to push him up the bank, but he kept trying and slowly Daniel climbed a little higher. Then he wrapped his arms around Daniel and said, “I got you, buddy.” Then he looked at me and said, “Mama, help pull him up to the top.” By that point he was up high enough from the bottom for me to grab his arms and pull him up to the top.

All I could think about was that picture of Carter, doing everything in his power to lift his baby brother up out of the dirt. He knew he couldn’t get him all the way up, but just that little boost was enough to get him off the bottom and into the reach of Mama, waiting at the top. It’s a lot like what we as Christians are called to do. There are people all around us that are stuck in deep holes or messy dirt. We need to do everything within our power to come alongside them or even push them from behind and say, “Hey, I got you, buddy,”  and try to lift them up out of the dirt. We may not be able to lift them all the way up, but just that little boost may be enough to get them  up off the bottom and into the reach of Jesus, waiting at the top.

We aren’t the saviors, but we can be the lifeline that He uses to get others to the Savior.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (the MSG)

Inspirational Musings

One Nation, Under God

As I held my youngest son close to my chest this morning during The Veteran’s Day Program at Pinetta Elementary, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The gym echoed as everyone stood to their feet and pledged allegiance to our American flag. Tears welled up as  the words flowed, “One nation, under God…” and immediately I thought back to my childhood.thxj429da1

Believing in God was what we did; all of my classmates, all of my teachers, all of my neighbors. In my little mind there was never a question as to whether the great nation of America and the God that I loved could ever be separated. Hand in hand, arm in arm; America and God made total sense.

As I watched all these babies sing such familiar and patriotic songs, I was proud but also convicted. Those kids had no idea how much those words were speaking to the hearts of the adults in the crowd. Most of us know people who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. We’ve heard the stories and relived the heroism through their words. We have been apart of and known a Great America. As the kids sang, “God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with a light from above,” I felt such a great responsibility to teach my children and their peers how great our God is and how great our America can be.

The kindergarten class came out one by one dressed as everyday members of society, all different, but all still American. The words to Alan Jackson’s song rang out across the gym, “Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day?” Immediately I remembered my friend walking into the coffee shop where I worked and she hurried to the tv to show me what was going on. We stood there in disbelief as we watched the towers fall. September 11, 2001 marked a time in history where we joined together as “one nation, under God.” Many of our children were not even alive. This is something that they will only learn about in the history books, but yet, we remember with such clarity. The wars, the battles, the lives that have been lost over the past several hundred years in the name of freedom must not be forgotten or taken lightly.We must teach our children. We must instill in them the devotion and patriotism that our great nation is due. We must teach them that without God, all things will fail and that America needs God now more than ever.

There is such a division that is trying to sneak into our great country and tear it apart. We must not lose heart, but instead train up the next generation to respect themselves and each other, fight for the freedom that our forefathers, soldiers and other patriots fought for, and put God first in all that they do.

One of the other groups sang a song that I had never heard before called American Tears. Tears flowed down the cheek of this American as I thought about this year of political tension and unrest. “Sometimes I think about America, about her struggles through the years, I think of people who did what they had to do, with the strength to act through their fears. Sometimes I think about America, about her future and her past, I know I’m blessed to be living in liberty, in a land where freedom will last. For the heroes, for the patriots, for the soldiers, for all the pioneers. I will always be an American, and I’ll always cry American tears.”

As the emotional roller coaster came to an end this morning, the whole auditorium stood as the students sang, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me, and I’ll gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today, cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless USA.”

When the National Anthem plays, let us stand. When we pledge allegiance to our flag, let us stand. When we are in the face of persecution, let us stand. When others are giving up, let us stand. When our children are watching, let us stand. When no one else will, let us stand. For what is right. For what is good. For what is just. For what is noble. For our country. And especially for our God.

One Nation. Under God.