Monthly Archives: November 2021

Falling Short on Faith


My nine-year-old son Alex asked for a cinnamon roll for breakfast.  I gave him a thumbs up and told him I’d replenished our supply of microwaveable cinnamon rolls.  “I know,” he said.  “Did you look in the freezer?” I asked. “How did you know I’d bought more?” Alex shook his head, “No, but I knew you went to the store.” He’d seen the bags from the grocery store the day before and assumed I’d gotten what he wanted.  

His confidence surprised me considering I often forget to put things on my list and thus they don’t end up in my grocery cart. Not to mention some grocery items have been in short supply lately (where are the Lunchables?). In fact, I thought the store ran out of cinnamon rolls until I searched high and low and found them in a different location on another freezer aisle.

While perhaps misplaced when it came to the groceries, Alex’s faith that I would take care of his needs touched my heart. But it also made me realize that I often falter in my faith in God. I rarely demonstrate the same kind of childlike faith that Alex showed me. I don’t always maintain the simple belief that God will take care of me. I lack the earnest conviction that God always has my best interests at heart. I have doubts and fears and worries. I’ve seen enough bad things happen that I don’t always trust God with my whole heart and certainly not my whole mind. 

Recently, I’ve also realized that my doubts have enlarged to encompass my children as they grow older and move through the world in new and different ways. As I must loosen my grip on my children’s lives, I find myself asking, “Can I trust you with my kids, God?” It seems ridiculous to write that sentence because God is God, and I am not.  I know God loves my kids with a greater love than I can even imagine. But that hasn’t stopped the fears from creeping in and spilling over. I see situations in my children’s lives that I would’ve worked out differently if I were in charge and had control. And while I’m certain God will work things out in time and in a way that will ultimately benefit my kids, I worry about the pain and damage to them in the here and now. 

I know this lack of faith hurts my relationship with God. To say I don’t trust God with the most important parts of my life is not a loving response to God’s grace and mercy. But I’d rather acknowledge my shortcomings to God instead of attempting to ignore my insecurities as they simmer beneath the surface, growing hotter and more troubling, just waiting to boil to the top and cause even more damage to my relationship with God. 

All the while, God’s faithfulness, not mine, is what really matters. Apostle Paul wrote, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). Jesus knew we would struggle with faith, and so he made a way for us. God expects we will experience times in our spiritual journey when our faith wavers. But God’s love does not fail. God provides grace, love, and redemption always because Jesus was faithful and redeemed us. We just need to hang on in the times of doubt.  

I wish my faith in God was stronger. I pray that by admitting my failings, my faith will grow and deepen and become larger than my fears. But I know that my God is ever present and able to handle my doubts. God will stand faithful to me, to all of us, pulling us back up on our feet and into his arms when we fall short in our faith, over and over, as long as it takes.  

Tell Them What the Lord Has Done


As part of a road trip this year, my family and I visited with two of my roommates from college and their families. We don’t get to see each other in person often enough even though we text constantly. My birthday happened to be a couple of days later, so much to my surprise, my friends hosted a small birthday party, complete with cake and gifts. One of the presents, a decorative plaque said, “Home is where my people are.” Those words rang true for me because whenever I think about the various places I’ve lived, I first think about the people who were part of my life when I was there. When I think of college, I always think of these friends whom I’ve known for almost thirty years. Of course, my home now is with my husband and children.  While we’ve lived in the same city and the same house for almost fifteen years, my home is not tied to the city or the physical structure, but to my people. 

During Jesus’ ministry on earth, he traveled almost constantly. On one of his many trips, Jesus got out of a boat in the region of Gerasenes when a man filled with an impure spirit met him at the shore (see Mark 5:1-20).  The man lived in the tombs. He’d become so afflicted that nothing could restrain him. He’d even broken through iron chains around his hands and feet. Night and day, he would cry out in agony. He used rocks to cut himself. When he saw Jesus arrive, the man ran and fell on his knees before Jesus. 

Jesus commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man, but the man with the impure spirits conversed with Jesus instead. He said, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name, don’t torture me!” (verse 7). In response, Jesus asked his name. He said, “My name is Legion for we are many” (verse 9). The impure spirits begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area but asked Jesus to allow them to enter a huge herd of pigs. Jesus gave the impure spirits permission to leave the man and enter the pigs who then ran off a cliff into the water and drowned.  

When the townspeople came to see what had happened, they found the man who’d been “possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind,” and they were afraid (verse 15). They’d become accustomed to the out-of-control man in the tombs. Even though they probably feared the crazy man, they were more scared of Jesus who had the ability to cure the man. Overcome by terror, they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.  

But not the man whom Jesus had healed. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who’d been demon possessed begged Jesus to go with him. “Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (verse 19). So, the man went and began to tell what Jesus had done for him and the people he told were amazed.          

The man who’d been healed wanted to go with Jesus. And why wouldn’t he? Jesus had just rescued him from a life of misery. I wonder if in today’s terms, the man had some sort of mental illness or psychological condition. Whether he was demon-possessed or severely mentally ill, Jesus quite literally saved his life. Legion had been living alone, in a personal nightmare. His situation cut him off and isolated him from everyone. He was homeless and considered an outcast. He’d been a threat to the community. It made complete sense that he wanted to travel with Jesus as an act of praise and worship in response to Jesus’ healing and acceptance. 

I thought that Jesus would’ve welcomed anyone willing to follow along with him and the disciples. I’m sure the man would’ve loyally served Jesus in any way. He’d been through hell and Jesus had brought him through to the other side. He was now a walking, talking miracle. Jesus could’ve made the man who’d been consumed by the legion of unclean spirits his opening act. The man could give his incredible testimony to draw in more crowds before Jesus took the stage.  

Even though the man begged to come along, Jesus refused. Instead, Jesus told him to go home to his own people. The man probably hadn’t been home in a long time. When he left home, he was in turmoil physically, mentally, and emotionally. Now he could return home to the people he’d been forced to leave because of his condition, a new man. Jesus wanted him to rebuild his family by telling them what God had done for him. Jesus hoped he would instill the love of God in his own people.  To help them recover from his absence and build a future based on the grace and mercy of God. Immediately, the man started telling everyone about the amazing things Jesus had done for him, this time with shouts of joy, not despair. When he reached his own people at home, they may have been somewhat anxious at his arrival, but I’m sure they breathed a huge sigh of relief and welcomed him back after he explained what Jesus had done. The man could not erase all he and his people had experienced, but they could forge a new path now that he was home. 

While most of us will never experience the same type of tragedy and epic miracle as Legion, we have all traveled roads that seemed impossibly difficult at the time. Grief, depression, loss, and anxiety are just some of the problems that can fell us. But with God’s help and the help of those people God puts in our lives, we can build a new road–one that does not ignore our hard experiences, but one that acknowledges God’s comfort, support, and guidance. And we can make God’s love the foundation of our homes so that our own people will know to turn to God in the midst of their own darkest times.  

Jesus taught the man formerly known as Legion, and therefore us, that home is where our people are and that we have important work to do by telling and showing them what God has done for us. To explain how we depended on God in our hard times. Telling our loved ones how God has helped us is not always simple or easy, but our people benefit when we share our stories. Personally, I don’t always do a great job of telling my children how God brought me through tough times. But they won’t know unless I tell them. This story of Legion convinces me that I must try to do better.   

Jesus invites us to help with God’s work on earth by creating homes in which our people know that God is our greatest source of help. We have the opportunity to serve our people and God if we are vulnerable enough to tell them how much the Lord did for us in our difficulties. How God has shown mercy to us. By letting them know they are never alone, we can be conduits of God’s love to our own people, in our homes, just as Jesus asked us to do.  

On a Daily Basis


On Mondays, I usually begin to write my blog post for that Friday. Most weeks, I have an idea about the topic of my essay and can promptly start writing, but sometimes, I don’t. In my ideal world, I would have my writing topics planned out for several weeks, months even. That’s not the way writing works for me, and normally, that’s fine because I find inspiration consistently in everyday events and conversations. But I start to panic a little if I still haven’t figured out what to write by the time Wednesday rolls around. While I always pray about my essays, when I am at a loss about what to write, I find myself turning to God with more urgency asking, “God, I need help. What do you want me to write this week?”  

So, even though my lack of imagination frustrates me when it occurs, I can celebrate that it leads me to lean more heavily on God. I’m reminded of the Israelites wandering in the desert when God provided bread from heaven that they called manna. Every morning the people gathered only the amount of manna they needed for that day. If they collected more than they needed and tried to save it for the next day, the manna spoiled and rotted. Only on the day before the Sabbath could they collect enough to last them two days, so they did not have to work on their day of rest (Exodus 16).

I wonder if this set up annoyed any of the Israelite women.  I bet they would’ve enjoyed getting ahead of the required cooking occasionally. They couldn’t bake an extra cake or boil enough for leftovers.  Instead, they depended on God to provide every single day. God reminded them every morning that they needed to look to him for help and support.     

As I recalled the story of manna, I thought about how Jesus included the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread” when he taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:11). When I go to the grocery store, I don’t buy only what I need for that day. I live in the suburbs and drive a minivan, so I load my cart up with at least half a week’s worth of items. I don’t always give much thought about the ways God engages in the smallest details of my daily life. And yet, I depend greatly on God for all my needs. 

God gave the Israelites what they needed when they needed it, and Jesus told us to ask for daily help as well. When we pray, we should ask God to help us with the mental, emotional, and physical things we need to make it through the day. My writing life reminds me to turn to God when I am at a loss. Let us learn to pray for God’s sustenance in all areas of our lives, not only when we find ourselves lacking, but on a daily basis.             

Never Lost from God


El Arroyo is a Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin, Texas.  I’ve never eaten there, but I follow them on social media because of the clever sayings they post on their outdoor sign.  Their hilarious quotes have spawned books, magnets, and greeting cards.  Recently, I laughed when I saw this one on a dishtowel: “Nothing is truly lost until your mom can’t find it.”  And that is the truth in my experience.  

I pride myself on my ability to locate most “lost” things in our home.  Once, when I was quite agitated with my boys for losing something, I told my daughter Riley that looking for things that others have misplaced would be her lot in life as a woman and mother someday.  She gave me a look of terror in response.

Jesus told a story about a woman looking for a lost object.  He said, “[I]magine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God” (Luke 15:8-10 MSG).  The lost silver coin was worth about a day’s wages.  Jesus didn’t identify this woman as a mother, but I can’t help but imagine her as a mom whose child grabbed the coin without her knowledge and lost it.  Today, the woman would text her friends frustrated about both the lost coin and the culprit kid and then again with relief when she finally found it.   

No matter how the coin was lost, the woman panicked because the item of worth disappeared.  Once, I looked down and noticed my engagement ring missing from my finger.  I franticly searched everywhere.  I got lucky when I found it in a plastic shopping bag.  It had slipped off when I’d stuffed a bunch of clear wrapping from the dry cleaner into the larger bag.  Relief flooded my system when I discovered the ring was not gone forever. I felt happy that I’d found the ring that meant so much to me. 

We’ve all experienced the joy of finding something we thought was lost.  But in these stories, we are the thing of value represented by the coin or, in my case, the ring.  We may feel like we are lost, in the darkness, cut off from others.  We wonder if anyone is looking for us.  Maybe we believe shouldn’t be found after what we’ve done or said.  That we are not worthy, and so we hide.

But we are never out of God’s sight.  God knows where we are and will always seek a relationship with us.  God is always present.  We may try to isolate ourselves, but God refuses to give up on us.  And when we finally stop running from God, come out of the shadows, and ask God for help, the celestial celebration begins.  We were lost, but God waited patiently (or maybe impatiently) for us to recognize that his love was and is available.    

If mom (me) can’t find it at our house, there’s a good chance it’s lost forever.  But we are never, ever lost forever from God.  God always has us in his view and eagerly waits to welcome us out of hiding into the light of his love.