We knew there would be a period of inconvenience during this move and tried to prepare for it in advance. Since our furniture and personal belongings would not deliver to Moline for at least a week from day of pickup, we packed both our cars full of ‘necessities’ like lamps, blowup mattress, sheets and towels, personal care items, winter clothes, camping chairs, folding table, cookware and all the basic kitchen items and of course, a tv. Our vehicles looked like the opening scene of the Beverly Hillbillies, I kid you not. (Y’all come back now, ya hear?)

We made it just fine roughing it those few days though, and have intentionally NOT unpacked all those boxes. The movers set up our furniture and the rest of the stuff is stacked ceiling high, filling the entire guest room. Mercy.

My deepest desire has been to hurry up and get settled here, in a real home, and get connected to our new community as quickly as possible.

The fact it hasn’t happened yet has brought to light some yuck I didn’t realize was there.

Yes. I KNOW our 6 month lease officially doesn’t start until tomorrow. I also know we’ve only been here 11 days. Maybe I occasionally struggle with impatience. Maybe, wink wink.

Just stay with me.

Y’all this feeling of unsettled makes me heart-skipping, stomach-aching, shoulder-tightening physically, emotionally and spiritually ill. I had no idea what an issue my desire for comfort, for feeling settled had become. My stuff, surroundings, complete with pretty inspirational quotes and table decorations. Even the convenience of having a washer and dryer in the home. Counter space, drawers and closets. A place for everything and everything in its place.

Oh, those good old days in Egypt.

I’ve been here only 11 days. How quickly I let all these things become idols.

I told Mark last night that I felt so convicted. When did it become not enough to have shelter, heat, a place to sleep in safety, a place to get clean, food in the fridge and a place to prepare it? When did I become like the Israelites?

It breaks my heart that I let the idols of comfort and convenience cause me to complain against The One who provides for all my needs, every single day, without fail.

““Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭30:7-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:31-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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This past week has been full of “lasts”. Last time serving on the admin team. Last staff meeting. Last highlight and haircut by Samantha. Last weekend in our little house in the Village. Last Sunday worshipping with our LifeSong family this morning, last lifegroup with my peeps a little later tonight.

We’ve received many hugs and well wishes, prayers over us and kind words spoken to us. It’s humbling and overwhelming. Yes, I ugly cried in public. Love has that affect on me.

Last minute things will get packed into boxes and cars in a couple more days. I told our pastor we’ve been working hard to get it all done, but have created margin for close friends and family.

Distance is just geography, relationships last and love endures.

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Missing You

Mom asked me the oddest question this past Wednesday …… “Are you going to miss anyone when you leave”.

Well, of course, Mama. Naturally. I mean, my whole life has revolved around the Carolinas since before the time of Moses. I’m a southern girl. You and Dad raised us here. I use words like y’all, ain’t, darlin’ and bless your heart. Nellie T’s and Duke’s are staples in the fridge.

Both sets of families are within an hour and a half radius of our little house in The Village. Our parents, siblings and sisters in law, nieces and nephews, our three girls and that precious nugget (who is growing up so quickly). Everyone we love. Here. When we leave, will I miss anyone? Come on now.

Our closest relationships outside of family are all just minutes away. My girls. Oh my, these women who were once strangers, are now my sisters. We’ve laughed and cried together. Celebrated and mourned together. Served, learned, studied, prayed, played and grown together. We have history.

Since moving to the upstate in August 2010, LifeSong Church has been My. Home. Church.

A few weeks ago, after years of preparing, praying and waiting, we gave Calvary QC our yes. In an instant, every single aspect of life as we know has been impacted, with little time to transition from Upstate to Midwest.

Making sure all the details of leaving this life for our new one is exhausting, but the busyness has kept me from processing all I’ll be missing.

This afternoon I press pause, looking back, feeling all the feels. And the word ‘missing’ doesn’t come remotely close to describing these emotions.

To LifeSong:

I came to you a broken, wounded woman. With both hands I dragged along suitcases laden with failure, bursting at the seams with insecurity, fear, anger, shame and regret. I had only recently recognized my need for a savior and surrendered my life to Jesus a few months earlier. As a brand new baby Christian, I had not yet experienced grace or accepted God’s forgiveness. I was clueless, pretty sure that I had lots of work to do to make up for my life of sin, in my heart fearing that there was no way to offset the 49 years of doing life my way. Thank God, my Jesus already paid the price.

I was hungry for the lord and wanted to know Him more. I desperately needed your protection, and a community of passionate Christ followers. I wanted to find my purpose, value and worth. I wanted to be welcome, known, loved and enough. Looking back I know I came across overbearing, other times harsh, and so needy. Oh, I was a total mess. I can never make up for that.

Church, you welcomed me as I was, bandaged my wounds, fed me. You showed me grace, and what love looks like. Patiently, you taught me, encouraged me, challenged me. You allowed me to work through my junk at the pace God was changing me. Over time, my value, purpose and worth was found in Christ and Him alone. One day His grace, love and forgiveness became real and tangible. They became mine.

Words like “missionaries where we live work and play”, “faithful, available and teachable” and “whatever it takes” went from being sayings to a lifestyle. They are forever a part of me.

Talents I never knew I had developed. Faith blossomed. My relationship with the lord grew deeper. I learned how to serve God, to serve you, to serve our community …. and when I messed up, instead of blame, it was ok to get up, shake it off and keep on going.

What a privilege to be a part of this body of believers, you … my Home Church, my adopted family.

As I prepare my heart to go to a new church home, my suitcases will be packed with the very best memories of you. Going is bittersweet. But LifeSong, you are all much loved and you will most definitely be missed.

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‘We The People’, like it or not, have collectively been shoved into an unflattering spotlight on the world stage. At first I thought what I was seeing online was fake news. To my horror and shame, it isn’t. I’ve been in a funk over it all day. The best way to describe how it feels is grief.




1. the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country.

Politics are not my thing. Jesus is. But if our administration is talking about immigration this post reluctantly falls in that category. When you boil it down, immigration is about people. Human beings made in the image of God.

Lord help us, since before Methuselah there’s been racism and hatred between tribes,people groups and countries. Sad to say if you watch the 6:00 o’clock news, humanity hasn’t changed much … but I digress.

My family of origin fled a foreign country seeking asylum, freedom from tyranny, oppression and communism. They came here with nothing but their smarts, work ethic, integrity, hope for the future and the clothes on their backs. That means my parents were immigrants. That makes me a first generation American. I was conceived in Cuba and born and raised in the USA by the grace of God and the system who let my parents in. Politics and faith aside, just the fact that my parents were refugees makes the subject of immigration personal.

The US had policies in place to control the flow in the 1950’s, and I believe we should now as well. But had the administration at the time smeared Cuba and her people as unfit, unworthy and unwanted like ….. well, my story might have been radically different. Chances are, unless you are 100% pure Native American, yours might be too.

I’ve been blessed to have traveled outside our borders. I’ve met beautiful, compassionate, intelligent, loving, hardworking, capable people of different colors, nationalities and ethnicities. These folks have hopes and dreams, families, joys and sorrows just like me and you. Their beautiful lands, mountains, oceans, flora and fauna were created by the same One who created it all. How magnificent and humbling it is to have gone and experienced other countries and cultures so different from the one I call home.

God specifically used two visits to Haiti to touch my heart in ways I can’t describe. I have been forever changed as a result. How I grieve for my friends there, in light of reckless, wounding words that can’t be taken back. I hope they know that the words expressed by one man do not reflect the hearts of the majority here.

My prayer is that God will cover the men and women that we elected in into positions of leadership and authority with His wisdom and grace. May He guide their hearts and minds so that our country continues to be a place of refuge, freedom and hope for those who seek to make a life here.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

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January 2, already. It almost feels like I missed that window of opportunity to reflect on the past year, with it’s joys and sorrows.  But reflection is easy today, as I’m forced to sit and rest amidst the chaos of our ongoing transition from Christmas back to the every day, as I recover from a wicked bout of the flu. 

Fill a plastic tote. Empty the dryer. Dust the living room. Sit.  

Mop the bathroom. Fill the washer. Set out the jar of seashells gathered during our beach wedding in 2010, plus a few fresh candles and a framed hand lettered quote created by one of my artful friends. Sit.

In the sitting is time to reflect, to be thankful. To pray, and hope and hurt.
The house is quiet, other than the whirring of the washer as it begins to spin.
Exit 2017.  Another year has come and gone. So much wonder. Answered prayers. Church life and ministry. Love, friendships, LifeGroup. Sweet memories. Birthdays celebrated. Hospital visits. Vacations enjoyed. Closer walk with the Lord. Family gatherings over Thanksgiving and Christmas. And pictures to mark all the moments.
I’m like the new mom who has forgotten her labor pains. God has been so good to us. Sure, 2017 had it’s hard moments. They just didn’t carry over.
Except for missing the prodigal.
Parables are stories that teach, but not much is said in scripture about the family that the prodigal left behind. Did they run after him, begging him to come home? Did they sit by the window, checking the horizon day after day, month after month, as one year became two, then three? Did they send out a search party?  Did they pray?  Did they hurt, long for and hope for restoration for their son who was lost?  Did they get angry and feel deceived? Did anyone ever provide them with info on how the prodigal was doing, if he was actually seen somewhere alive?   Did they have broken hearts?  Did they give up hope?
My first experience with a real life prodigal was some years ago, when a family in our LifeGroup at the time revealed that their daughter had been absent 5 years and counting. I couldn’t wrap my head around that.  Like many people who haven’t walked those shoes, I tried looking for some reason, fault or cause that would rightly explain how a family could be ripped apart like that. Hindsight has taught me that those questions are pointless and hurtful.  Reasons can be many or few, real or imagined, justified or not …. they are all just like smoke.  Over time they dissipate, leaving behind only a heavy unpleasant odor.
Another, much closer friend had her prodigal return just a few days before Christmas. The joy and hope of his restoration was short lived. He couldn’t stick with the program and left, going back underground again.
It isn’t said outright, but it’s implied. As painful as it is, as sad as it is, as much as it hurt …. life went on after the prodigal took his inheritance and left the family. Then a series of hard things happens before the prodigal makes a decision for repentance and seeks reconciliation. I imagine with some prodigals it takes more hard things over a longer period of time to get there. 
But us?   We wait in the living and live in the waiting, with hope and joyful expectation. Because The Lord my God is on the throne, Satan has no real power over our prodigal. Because hope has a name and joy has a name … His is the name that is above all names.   Jesus.  
And on that day, what a celebration it will be. For the one who was once lost will have been found, the one who was thought dead will be made alive.

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Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

This scripture came to mind when we received word that Michelle’s PawPaw had passed on.

I’d add a few more qualities to the list … honesty, integrity, humility, generosity, wise steward. Oh, and a ridiculously dry and sometimes corny sense of humor. I think that also qualifies as a fruit of the spirit.

Mr. Peterson became PawPaw when Jenny was born and the title stuck. Even after Mike and I divorced he was still PawPaw and Nanny was Nanny. Their love never changed.

Like many of us there was a time before PawPaw knew the lord and surrendered his life to Him. Nanny once shared a little bit about their early marriage in hushed tones, while she prepared lunch and the men were outside. Then one day, Jesus changed his life forever.

PawPaw was no saint. He could be annoying, like calling every Sunday morning for 9 years asking if we’d come to church with him and Nanny. And he had no problem telling you what you didn’t want to hear when you’re in the wrong about something. Truth spoken in love can be a real pain in the neck when you’re not doing things God’s way.

PawPaw spent this past month in hospice care, which was a huge blessing. Although the process of his home-going has been slow and painful for the family to walk through, PawPaw was well cared for and well loved to the end of his physical life.

All this to say, PawPaw lived a long God honoring life. I have complete assurance that at exactly 5:55am today he heard those precious words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

PawPaw, you’ll be missed here, but in Christ I know I’ll see you and Nanny again. Thank you for the seeds you planted long ago. Thank you for your prayers through the years. Thank you for the love and investment you made in your granddaughter. May your legacy of love and faithfulness go on to future generations.

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Eleven Twenty One Seventeen 

Yesterday morning was the fruit of months of planning. A time and space created for people to serve and be served. A place where feet were washed, tears spilled, hearts filled. I saw love poured out and love hungrily accepted.  
Looking back on last year, my greatest desire was to make sure that every person who came through our doors received a complete ready to cook Thanksgiving meal to take home and share together as a family. We planned for 500 and ended up with more than enough to serve our guests. This year the focus was different … to provide people with a warm and welcoming place to connect with us and each other, a space for our volunteers to be able to utilize their unique talents and giftedness, and for our guests to experience the amazing love of Christ through His church. The “what” was always there, but it took the backseat.

This shift in perspective from completing tasks with tangible objectives in mind to simply wanting to serve and love people with excellence is a gift from God. I’m a widget-maker by nature, give me a thing to do and a timeline and get out of my way. Over the past 12 months the lord has been refining that. As I grow closer in Him, trusting Him, allowing Him to mold and shape and lead me into places I’ve feared and resisted.  
For example, the night before last was sleepless and restless. I woke up around 3:30 all wound up, asking God what on earth I was supposed to say in the VIP meeting. Public speaking is so far outside my comfort zone. Fear of failure still has the potential to cripple if given room in my head. In the stillness I sensed God telling me that what was coming was rare, a time that the world was coming to us, and we should be ready to make the most of that opportunity. I didn’t remember if I actually shared it, I was so nervous.
But I believe we did, every single volunteer in every single role from parking lot, to registration, to cafe, greeters, hospitality, medical, security, tech team, prayer counseling, coat closet, meal distribution, exit team, clean up. No servant greater than another, no role more important, each one living in the joy of where God has placed them, that joy evident as I walked through each area over and over, ensuring that everyone had what they needed. And I got out of their way.

It is indeed rare that the world would come to us. The reality is that we as Christ followers are commanded to go out. Our mission field is not inside the church walls, it is beyond our parking lot. We live in our mission field every day, going to the same places every day, and come in contact with new people every day. This is the world who needs our Jesus, our hope. Yesterday was a model for how our lives should be lived every day. Open, warm, generous, loving, joyful, sacrificial, bold for Christ.  
If we served coffee together to hundreds yesterday, each one of us has the ability to serve one person one cup of coffee today. If we gave hundreds of meals away to the hungry yesterday, each one of us has the ability to feed one person we know is lacking today. If we prayed with hundreds yesterday, listening to their stories with compassion, offering comfort and hope in Jesus …… each one of us has the ability to do that again with just one person today.  

Within our individual spheres of influence is the world, bumping and crashing right up into our lives. The faces and names might be different, but there are people that you and I already know who are hungry and hurting and in need of a missionary to bring them light and love and hope. Yesterday we did that on a huge scale together, living the gospel out loud in word and deed. The event may be over, but we are far from being done. My prayer is that each one of us recognizes the everyday opportunity to be a missionary where we live work and play and follows Jesus into those unknown places right here in our midst.

Photo credits LifeSong Church Lyman, Facebook @LifeSongChurchOnline 

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