Monthly Archives: February 2022

God is Awake

Photo credit: Jed Carter


At 3:30 in the morning on 2/22/22, I woke up to hail beating on my windows. I didn’t get out of bed immediately though. My husband Ben was out of town, so my youngest son Alex was already sound asleep and secure in my bed. I hoped that my other kids would sleep through it. I was wrong. Within a few seconds, Clay, my twelve-year-old, came in, followed immediately by sixteen-year-old Jed holding his phone up with the flashlight shining in my face. Riley, my eighteen-year-old daughter, was right on their heels. They were startled and couldn’t sleep from all the noise.  

So, I got out of bed and went to the front to better assess the situation. Hail inundated the windows and house; the sound was almost deafening. We looked out the front door to see the ground and sidewalks covered in marble sized ice. The hailstorm stopped just a few minutes after it started. Alex was still asleep in my bed. One kid settled on the couch and the other two ambled back upstairs to their rooms. The storm was over, and we resumed our rest. 

I admit I kind of loved the way the kids came running to me when the storm started, when the noise became unbearable, when the stress rattled them. Especially now that my children are older, it’s nice to feel needed, to know I still provide a source of comfort and security for them. I wonder if we do the same when we struggle with stress and anxiety. Do we immediately run to God for comfort and security? Or do we hesitate? I think we often try to solve our problems on our own before we turn to God. We may decide we don’t want to bother God with our troubles when there are so many terrible problems in the world. 

But God is constantly available at all times of the day and night to help us in our times of need. The Psalmist said, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:1-4). 

Being the word nerd that I am, I looked up the definition of slumber as compared to sleep. Slumber is to sleep lightly or to be in a state of inactivity ( In college, I sometimes sat on my bed with my back propped up against the wall, eyes closed, in the middle of the afternoon. When my friends would ask if I was going to sleep, I would say, “I’m just resting my eyes” because I was sort of awake and sort of not. If my friends piqued my interest with their conversation, I would rouse myself and join in. But I might get too comfortable in my state of inactivity and fall deeper into sleep.   

God is not like me – God doesn’t doze in and out of consciousness. God doesn’t try to remain asleep in bed when the storm rages, hoping no one wakes up. God is already awake and aware. God is at the ready in every season, in every circumstance, at every turn. We can approach God at any moment with our hardships and our angst. We need not hesitate. Instead, let us run into God’s presence when the storms unsettle us knowing God watches and waits to be our refuge. 



Time-honored household debates include how to load the dishwasher, how the toilet paper roll should spin, and how to squeeze the toothpaste tube. While my husband Ben and I don’t have these specific debates, I’m about to take up the toothpaste tube squeezing issue with my sons. Some people methodically squeeze from the bottom. Others squeeze from the top or the middle. My boys have come up with a new technique that involves twisting the tube as if they’re wringing water out of a sopping wet towel. I applaud their efforts to get the last drops of toothpaste out of the tubes, but all that remained were mangled shells. 

Sometimes, our lives may feel twisted. Circumstances that may be out of our control leave us feeling depleted. Our expectations may be dashed. The world may not look like anything we planned or hoped for. Even if everything looks neat and tidy on the outside, our insides may, in fact, feel twisted. We may be confused or tapped out emotionally and mentally. We may feel as though our internal and/or our external situations are so misshapen that there’s no way to be whole again.

I’m taking an online Theology course through Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary this semester. Last week, our reading and discussion were about Jesus’ humanity and divinity. I was flummoxed because I’d never heard some of the theories, and I didn’t know what to think anymore. My brain was twisted into knots, and my frustration poured out of me on paper and via Zoom. Thankfully, Professor Cynthia L. Rigby was gracious and supportive in the face of my confusion. I still don’t know if I understand the scope of Jesus’ humanity and divinity, but Professor Rigby is always asking “so what”? What does our rumination on theological topics mean for our everyday lives? I was thinking about the issue days after our discussion when it occurred to me, the “so what” is that Jesus knows how hard life is. He knows how we as human beings feel when we are wound so tight, we physically ache, cry buckets of tears, and can’t think straight. When we are twisted and have nothing left to offer.

Jesus experienced a twisted situation in his hometown when he was teaching in the synagogue. The people who’d always known Jesus’ family were offended that Jesus talked with such authority. “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son?” (Mark 6:3-6). They noted that they knew all his brothers and sisters. To paraphrase, they asked, “who does Jesus think he is now?” Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” Jesus “could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Jesus experienced the rejection and ridicule of people he’d known his whole life, so Jesus understands how it feels to be hurt when things don’t go as planned. 

The “so what” is Jesus knows what it means to be human and experience pain. We can take refuge in Jesus’ love for us and believe that he will always be with us even when life feels twisted. 

God’s Relentless Pursuit


Our family adopted a new kitten a little over a week ago. We got her for our son Jed for his birthday and because we thought our older cat might need a friend to avoid depression once our daughter Riley goes to college later this year. Jed named her Daenerys after a Games of Thrones character. Dany is a sweet girl but has been a bit skittish during this adjustment. She hides under his bed, on his windowsill, and on shelves behind his massive sized shoes. Honestly, I didn’t think she’d venture out of Jed’s room for a long time, which is why I didn’t shut the door completely the other night when Jed went to bed. 

I was almost asleep when I heard a loud commotion from upstairs. Jed burst into our bedroom and exclaimed, “she’s not in my room anymore.” He explained that Dany had seemed a little too quiet, so he’d started looking for her, which is when he found her on the stairs outside of his room. When she saw Jed, she spooked, jumped off the landing onto our downstairs recliner, and then ran to the front of the house. We looked and looked for her but couldn’t locate her. I suggested that maybe we suspend the search because cats hide, that she would eventually find her way back to his room. “We have to find her,” Jed insisted. “She might be hurt or scared. She may not know how to get back to my room.” And so, we kept searching, finally removing the breakables from the shelves of three bookcases and pulling their heavy frames far enough from the wall to find her hiding underneath. Around midnight, Jed carried her back to his room, safe and sound.

Sometimes, the people we love run away from us physically, mentally, or emotionally. Sometimes, we may want to pursue them, but we can’t continue. We must pull back in order to establish healthy boundaries. Sometimes, they don’t want us to find or rescue them from their difficult circumstances. And sometimes, we may be the ones who run and hide from those who love us. The resulting pain can overwhelm us. But we can take comfort in the fact that God won’t give up on any of us no matter how lost we are.       

Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep to his followers.

 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” (Luke 15:4-7).  

Jesus said that in the same way, heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents. 

Jesus won’t stop searching for any of us ever. God relentlessly pursues relationships with us. No matter how far we run or how long we hide, we can rest assured that God is always right behind us, waiting to share our burdens, comfort us when we hurt, and ease our aches with his love. 

Please don’t tell Jed because he will never let me forget it, but his persistent search for the kitten reminded me of Jesus and the lost sheep. Jesus won’t leave us when we are hurt, scared, act out, run, or hide. We cannot escape God’s presence or his quest for us. God loves us too much to let us go. Thanks be to God.     

The Struggle is Real


When I heard the weather report last week, I physically felt the anxiety rise in my body. The forecast called for a high of 70 degrees on Sunday but predicted that the temperature would fall to 28 degrees with a possibility of wintry precipitation by Thursday. The weather people claimed the artic blast would not match the drama of the previous February when ice blanketed Texas for a week. But the memories of the past winter event panicked me. “I just hope it’s not like last year,” I said. My twelve-year-old son Clay responded, “Why? That was fun.” The look on my face conveyed my shock. “Not the rolling black outs, but the rest of it was fun,” he said. 

My recollection of events differs quite a bit from Clay’s. I remember the negatives – the cold house, hurriedly plugging in our devices when the electricity came on for short spurts, the inability to leave because of the frozen roads, the fear that our pipes might burst like those of numerous neighbors. But Clay remembered the good things like playing in the snow, days off from school, and the way we worked together to make meals in the dark.      

Clay and I have different personalities though. He is more laid back than me and more go with the flow. And while I realize he doesn’t worry about things like I do as a parent, I also understand that he has the innate ability to see things in a more positive light. He’s a glass-half-full guy, while I’m a glass-half-empty gal, or at least I worry about what we’re going to do when we drink the rest of the glass.  

I’ve noticed I tend to focus on the negatives in the past. When I recall seasons in my life, the bad parts often come to my mind first and crowd out the good memories. And that penchant carries over to worry about the future, like overwhelming anxiety about another ice storm. Even when I’ve prepared as much as I can for an upcoming event, like said ice storm, I struggle to let the worry go. 

While getting worked up by a couple of days of icy weather may sound funny, the anxiety that I live with is not. In fact, my anxiety and depression can become overwhelming at times. And I know I’m not alone. Many of us have a tough time dealing with worry that consumes us and sadness that can overwhelm us. 

In “The Message” translation of the Bible, Jesus’ famous words about not worrying read like this: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matt. 6:34 MSG). Jesus said God would help us handle hard things, which sounds good in theory. But Jesus didn’t specify exactly how God would help us. On the surface that may seem frustrating because of the lack of details. I think we can look at Jesus’ promise as freeing though when we realize that God’s help is open-ended and unlimited. 

God can help us in many ways: a deep conversation with a friend, a long nap, a walk in nature, a tough workout, journaling, meditation, or a good meal. But God’s help also comes in the form of professional mental health care. Medication and therapy, especially talk therapy, can be invaluable, perhaps even crucial to our well-being. God has provided these medical professionals with intelligence, education, training, advances in science, insights, and caring hearts. They can work as God’s servants to guide and support us as we travel the sometimes-rocky road of mental health.       

Personally, I’ve benefited from both medication and therapy, and I am grateful to God for these sources of help. As Christians, we can work to destigmatize the need for mental health care. We should not feel ashamed when we seek mental health care but can claim this as God’s provision and help. We can discuss mental health in our church communities so that others know they are not alone and need not hide their struggles or isolate with their pain.