Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When It Rains It Pours

Perhaps you remember Monday's post about my grandma's declining health...

My grandma had a heart attack last night. She was in the hospital when it happened. She will be in the hospital for - well, I don't really know how long. She's conscious and in good spirits but her strength is very low. Though I don't know what the future holds I think my grandma is the bravest of the whole lot of us.

In light of all of this I'm taking a few days off. I'll be heading out of town soon to be with my family.

I'm out of words so I'll leave it to one of you: I think Eastern Kentucky Pastor had it right: pack an umbrella.

In His Grip,

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quote of the Moment

When speaking of Jesus, Garret Keizer said,

"Smite his cheek, and he turns you the other; slap the dignity of the house of prayer, however, and he turns over a table."

What about you? What's your favorite quote of the moment?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Let It Rain

At 84 my grandmother is the most Godly women I have ever known. Yet tonight she's barely 100 pounds and languishing. Hospital corridors and unanswered questions flood my mind as the swell of the waves threaten to drag me below the the water's surface.

It's amazing how one phone call can change so much.

On Wednesday morning of last week the rain started. We hastily packed bags and headed two hours north. At that point all I knew was that she had fallen and couldn't get help. What I later came to understand was that she was so weak it took her over an hour to crawl to the phone to get assistance.

The situation we're in comes as a surprise to no one; she's been deteriorating for years with congestive heart. But, trust me, there's no such thing as grieving in advance. Yet unlike so many crisis situations I've faced in the past, I'm facing this one differently. Here's why...

God's plans baffle me. The fact is, I waste brain space when I do any more than trust Him moment by moment. There's no way I can control any of what's happening around me. So I'm not going to cause myself more grief by pretending I can.

Unlike other crossroads in my life I'm not running away this time.

In fact, I say, "Let it rain." Even if the floods overtake me, He will never let me go. And though rain may hide my tears, He's no less aware of each and every one.

He's big enough & small enough - at the same time - to be in every facet of life. He's in me and my grandma. And that right there is a reason to hope.

I've learned, whether we realize it or not, every day is a crossroad for each of us. Every day we must decide. Do we choose to rest in Him or try to rest without Him? I've tried walking both paths and the second choice has never given me the strength to say, "Let it rain." What I've had to come to realize is that I'd rather be soaking wet in God's rain than drowning in a flood of my own undoing.

Today, come what may, I'm going to rest in Him. Even in the rain.

How about you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jacked Up Jack-O-Lantern CONTEST WINNER

Founding Member Pumpkin
This pumpkin eats pastors for breakfast, and because he is one of the founding members of the church everyone lets him. Founding member pumpkin has not found a pastor yet that he didn't like to chew on, and he has spit out every pastor the church has had since the first one in 1953....

Congratulations Steve, you are the official winner! It was a tough call. The vat was so thick with sarcasm that I could scarcely lift the ladle. But when all the judges had sampled their fill of mockery, Founding Member Pumpkin came out smelling....well, like pumpkin guts, actually, which is good in a rotten vomit kind of way. E-mail me at to claim your mullet gift o' rama. And I think I speak for all SFL readers when I say please, please assemble the costume and send us a picture.

Honorable Mentions:
Jon Acuff gave props to Rob's "When Church Janitors Go Bad"
MCTC loved mistymorningmountain with the Joel Olstein/John Piper parody
SFL would also like to recognize Miss Hannah for the Home School Mom bit (classic AWANAs)

On a side note, SFL has been up and running for almost 3 whole months. You know, readers, you mean so much to me. It's time you knew just how much...(dim lights, cue Luther Vandros music)...

I feel so much better about myself...

Monday, October 20, 2008

He's The Glue

Oh yes, I forgot today is his birthday. As he's walking out the door for work common sense jolts me and I yell "Happy Birthday!" Then I give him a hug and he laughs. He's the glue that holds us together and like I've said before, I definately married up. I don't know how I got so lucky, but this I can tell you. 15 years ago when we first met I knew I was done dating around. I would say, "I found a good thing" but that would be an understatement. It's better said, "A good thing found me." We're riding life's rollercoaster together and so far neither one of us has puked so I'm taking it as a good sign. Here's our song. It was played at our wedding but it ain't your typical wedding song. Regardless, it still rings true...


Sunday, October 19, 2008

CONTEST LOOT & Judges: It's Not Too Late!!

It's not very often that a pumpkin can change a life. Until now. Here you have it - The Jacked Up Jack-O-Lantern Contest Prize. Let me outline for you the ins and outs of the prize pack:

1 Mullet Wig
That's right, you read it correctly. Say it with me, like it doesn't hurt to own up to it, "Mullet wig!" Often defined as "Business in the front. Party in the back." This wig is your ticket to the high life. ("high" as in drug induced stupor) But like all good Christians we must take the concept of the mullet and put God sauce on it. So, I submit to you, "Mullet: Presbyterian in the front. Pentecostal in the back." There. I feel more holy just typing it.

1 Screaming Pop-Up Plush
Complete with rubberized hair and super loud, electronic high pitched cackle this is the most annoying thing I could send in the mail besides myself. The best thing about the laugh is that it will serve 2 functions:
1) It's perfect in tone and pitch for women's ministry events. That doesn't mean you have to attend, I'm just saying...
2) Use it in church service every time your pastor tells a lame joke. Let this thing laugh for you and trust me, he'll stop. Or quit. Use your own judgement here.

Zit Poppers Candy
The package reads, "Plump & Rich, OOzy Gushy Goo Filled Zit Gummies You Can Burst In Your Mouth. Zitlicious!" You can actually take these candies and pop them near your friends and strawberry flavored puss will fly out. Trust me, people, you can't buy this kind of popularity. (Or maybe you can, at Target.)

Then there are other goodies like Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape, Happy Bunny Stickers, and a Hose Nose slime filled candy that was left over from the Bible College survival pack. And other various crap, too.

Meet Your Contest Judges:

Jon Acuff of Stuff Christians Like
Dan Small, CPA
More Cute Than Crazy, a suburban housewife living the dream (with the help of an occasional margarita)
Stacy From Louisville

In the event of a tie all judges and contestants will meet at Big Lots in Milwaukee. All contestants will be blindfolded and tied to each other with bungee cords. The prize pack will be thrown up in the air and all contestants will be left to their own devices. No shoving or swearing, we will be in public.

I'm extending the voting until Monday at midnight! It's not too late to caption the pumpkin.

Winner of the Jacked Up Jack O Lantern will be announced on Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jacked Up Jack-O-Lantern CONTEST

(This is a contest, ergo "contest" in the title. Read through the post and find your assignment at the bottom. Good luck!)

I don't know if Little Boy Jesus ever went Trick or Treating. There's just some things Scripture doesn't speak to. But I can imagine LBJ (Little Boy Jesus, not Lyndon B. Johnson) dressed as a camel or Buzz Lightyear or Gene Simmons. (or not) He's carrying his empty gourd hoping to score some mad candy and hummus as he celebrates Halloween, Nazareth style. Surely, though, there were some people who weren't into Halloween, even then. No pumpkins, no costumes, no candy, no nothin'. I have this theory that's what initially caused the rift between Him and the Pharisees. Yep, I'm blaming anti-halloween stingy candy uppityness. Cheating LBJ out of taffy and tootsie rolls was a big mistake. Huge.

Fast forward 2000+ years. The same thing happens, but with a holy spin. At church last week I overheard one woman talking to another, saying, "I take the pumpkin, carve a cross instead of a face, put a lit candle inside, then turn off all the lights and pretend we're not home when people ring the doorbell. That's how we do Halloween." It was a really animated conversation. Though I can't be sure I think I saw her pull the template out of her bootleg Coach purse. If I would have been thinking I would have snapped a pic with my camera phone. I always miss out on the good stuff. Dang it.

If there's one thing we need around Stacy From Louisville (besides common sense) it's a shout out for Pumpkin Carving Ministry. It's a spiritual gift, but a secret one. It's true. Okay, it's not true but it sounds good so I'm going with it. The point is, pumpkins, like any good squash or root vegetable can represent cross sections of Christian culture. For example...

Pumpkin a la Women's Ministry
See how happy and smiley? It wants to hug you and help you find a pretty corduroy jumper for your next night out with your husband. Sexy. If this beautykin could talk she'd say, "Hope to see you at the fall women's retreat!" To which I'd probably tell you it's okay to convert, just until the first snow falls.

Church Greeter Pumpkin
This smile, permanently plastered to his face, is there just for the purpose of saying, "Good Morning!" 50,000 times in a row. Plus, he spits a little every time he talks. Nice. If you don't have a good experience at church he'll find out about it and force happy pills down your throat until you change your story. But be careful! If he spots a visitor, or - heaven help us - a nonbeliever, it's all over. They'll need to pull out the pepper spray and run. Fast. This is church. You're going to be happy and like it, or you're gettin' jumped by this guy. P.S. He's got bad post-communion breath. Aw snap.

Youth Group Pumpkin
Oh, for shame! You mutant, hormonal, sarcastic teenagers. You won't get into any notable Bible Colleges if you keep this up. And girls, you can just forget marrying a pastor with pumpkin posterior humor. This is serious. I'm taking away your pot if you don't stop. (Not that I advocate pot. I only advocate mooning pumpkins statues.)

Pastoral Staff Meeting Pumpkin
Are you in vocational ministry? Do you ever feel misunderstood? Ever long for the safe haven of your office where you can surf SFL archives? I know your pain. I used to be on the vocational ministry fast track. It never worked out for me, though. To this day I still can't figure out why...

Caption Contest Pumpkin
Now it's your turn. Caption this pumpkin scenario. Be creative, or sarcastic, or whatever it takes to win big. You've seen in the past that I do some fun contests. ("Blog Fodder - Contests & Giveaways" will show you what I mean.) So here's your chance. Contest runs until midnight Pacific time on Sunday (October 19). Judges will be announced and a picture of the prize will be posted over the weekend. Here's hoping....

Bible College Survival Pack Update

Here's a shout out for Bub. He leaves some great comments but that's not what makes him famous. He won a SFLBC Survival Pack. Click over to God, Me & Poker for a pictorial journal showing him putting his gift pack to good use. When I saw it I laughed out loud, doubled over, in hysterics. Here it is, Mr. Postman.

Here's a shout for Dog Snob, who also won a Bible College Survival Pack. Lucky girl laid claim to a personalized "Wide Hips Increase Fellowships" hankie. With the nation in such financial upheaval you can imagine what it's like for her to have such a national treasure. She took some great pics, too. Venture over to What's In My Head... Interesting Candy.


P.S. I'm making some changes to SFL. Thanks for your patience. As I'm sure you can imagine changing the template was a major undertaking. Beads of perspiration dot my forehead from all the concentration. So, tell the truth, do you like the green? Dan hates it. I don't. He had no real reason for hating it other than hating it. I reasoned, "I like it because my eyes are green so it all coordinates." Overwhelmed by my logic, he said, "Goodnight, My Green Eyed Goddess." Okay, I made that last part up, but still, he went to bed. Don't be afraid to side with him, even though he is wrong. And don't mind affirming my choice since I hold the purse strings on the give aways around here. Hint, hint.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Smooth Grandamama

I'm not going to pretend to be cool, because I'm not. My children, 5 and 7, are starting to figure this out for themselves and it's not pretty. This past Sunday I walked my daughter to her Sunday School class. As we walked she kept saying, "It's okay Mom. Seriously, I can walk myself to the chapel." My feelings were hurt, I'm not gonna lie. But at the same time I realized she saw my NQ (Nerd Quotient) for what it was: a big, thick stew of crazy about to boil over, and she wasn't about to get spattered.

So to celebrate my affinity for all things odd and ridiculous, I'd like to share my all time favorite rewrite of secular music lyrics, cause you know I'm wicked crazy in love with that concept. Remember "Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson? Yeah, it didn't ever make sense to me either. But luckily, in this stellar portrayal it's all about evangelism.

Since it's all about evangelism be sure to show it to at least 3 unsaved friends. They will immediately understand everything you have labored to communicate to them. They're going to come flying forward.

Trust me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Baby's 5 Today

Dan's got competition, but he's good with it. This dude stole my heart and hid it somewhere I never hope to find it. When the ultrasound tech said, "It's a boy!" a tear fell from my eye and I wondered if I'd ever recover. How's it possible to fall in love with someone you've never met? I still can't answer the question but I know such magic happened to me. The spell unravels itself daily and I'm neck-deep in crazy love.

I love him because he sat in the barber's chair and said, "I need to get my faux hawk on."

I love him because he told his Sunday School teacher, "I'm hip and fly."

I love him because no matter what I tell him we're having for dinner he says, "You mean tomato and poop soup?"

I love him because when we went to Wal-Mart he told me he wanted a Transformer just like the one on his underwear. Then pulled down his pants in the main aisle to show me what he was talking about. Just so there'd be no confusion.

I love him because he runs to me with a tube of hair gel and says, "Mom, I need you to 'hauk' my 'faux'."

I love him because he walks past the office and looks in at me at the computer. Then he throws his hand up to his forehead and says to his sister, "It's Stuff Christians Like. Mom's trying to be funny again. This is gonna take awhile." Then shakes his head and walks away.

I love that today he's gonna think he's all about it when he sees his likeness plastered on my blog. He's hit the big time for sure.

Thanks for indulging me today. This post is for him; the 5 year old with the faux hauk who stole my heart.

And I love his sister because she told him, after he opened his gifts, "I think it's so great that after you go to bed Mom & Dad are going to give your stuff away to charity."

Oh, the legacy we build around here every day...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hell Houses

When I was in college, majoring in youth ministry, I ventured to a church in Texas for an internship. We all know it's not officially summer in Christendom without several sweaty, chlorine laced weeks of church camp. This week of camp was for 4th and 5th graders. The theme of the week was "God". Well, actually, I don't remember the theme but I'm sure it had something to do with God, so let's call it even. What I do remember was one bright and shining example of why the 90s is a decade The Trinity would just as soon forget.

I probably shouldn't be telling you this, so keep it on the downlow. At every church camp there's a secret Armageddon shelter roughly 200 feet below the chapel. It's filled with everything you'll ever need to convert campers: tracts with cartoon characters set ablaze, pictures of strung out addicts, lots of Michael W. Smith and David Meece tapes, 5 gallon buckets of sulfur & napalm, Joan Rivers without make know, death and hell stuff. You must know that this is just too much power for some well intentioned folks. When you put all these things in the wrong hands you get what I'm about to describe.

Jump into the story with me. It's Wednesday and the dean at camp decides not enough kids have accepted Christ throughout the week. So, he's going to pull out all the stops and make a "Hell Walk". This is what he envisions: Let's take some little kids on a shrieking, pitch-black, middle of the night walk through The Bowels of the Earth. Tell the kids they can't make a sound. Have the adults quote Scripture about hell while we walk. Dress some other adults in "demon" attire and have them run around moaning. Then at the end, let's bring in a big dude with a stone cold grey face and bulging eyes pretending to be Satan. Cue strobe lights and creepy music. AND! Let's have him tell the kids how much he loves them and wants their souls. Then have him lunge at them while demons start wailing.

Somehow I missed all the planning but when the event took place I tried to behave and go with the flow. That is, until a little girl in my cabin starts crying because her mom had died less than 6 months before. That ended it for my compliance. Right there when Satan was about to start frothing at the mouth, I decide I can't take it anymore. I stand right up, loudly and adamantly declare, "This is ridiculous. My cabin, UP!! We're outta here." We went back the cabin, tried to calm down, thanked God for heaven, and fell asleep.

While Hell is a real place I think the church gets it wrong when we use it as a means of evangelism. Say what you will, but the love of Christ will not only compel people to come to Him, it will make them stay with Him, too. So, when it comes to Hell Houses, I'm not so much a fan.

But what if we reworked the idea just a bit? If Hell Houses are such a Halloween tradition I think we should have our own, don't you? But it would have to contain the scariest, most horrific rooms imaginable if I'm going to put the SFL stamp on it. Right?

Without further delay, I'd like to walk you through the Stacy From Louisville Hell House. Warning: Not for the faint of heart or weak of bladder!

Scene 1: Bible College
Speaking of holidays, Bible College is a whole holiday in itself. It's a 4 year (or 5 or 6 or 7 year) vacation from reality and common sense. So right at the main entrance to this room you will need a steel wool brush and a big ol' bucket filled with sudsy baptismal water. How else will you brain wash people? Moving on...

Scene 2: Elder's Meeting
This is the only room in the Hell House where the comb over isn't part of a costume. And if you're a girl I'm not sure you're allowed to come in, but just this onec... Remember Pleasure Island in Disney's Pinocchio? Where all the naughty boys with buck teeth start smoking cigars and turn into donkeys? I think this happens at some elder's meetings. Fire the youth pastor because he's got some crazy ideas about preaching salvation? All in favor say, "HEE-hhhaw!" (Okay, that's supposed to be a donkey noise but I've never been schooled in phonetic donkey so get a new cause.)

Scene 3: The Coat Closet
Not necessarily a scary room, just a place for coats. And making out. Which is why I saw fit to include it. Which reminds me, this last week alone I saw three couples grabbing each other's butts during worship service. One man, bless his heart, must not have known how to clap hands. But he seemed to keep time to the music pretty well from the way he slapped his wife's rear in time to "We Will Dance". It was a song about heaven but I was pretty sure I was in hell...

Scene 4: Women's Ministry
This room has pastel sequin Easter sweaters, floral centerpieces, and PMS. Apply too much eyeliner, hide SSRIs in your fake Coach purse, and make a straw hat craft. Be sure to turn up the Twila Paris. As people enter the room repeatedly hug them and offer them cheese cubes and brownies. Repeat, until everyone goes completely insane. Then do it AGAIN! AND AGAIN! (infer devilishly high pitched laughter and charm bracelets)

Scene 5: Church Nursery
Take an 8x8 room. Install 3 cribs, 2 rockers and a baby swing that doesn't work. Cover any remaining floor space with mismatched Fisher Price farm sets and teething rings. Hose everything down with high fructose corn syrup and sprinkle with Cheerios. Turn up the heat and put a poopy diaper in front of each vent. Now you are ready for 13 overstimulated 10 month olds. This could also double as the pro-abstinence room.

Well, there you have it. But surely 5 rooms isn't enough. Don't you think I've missed some things? How much should we charge to get in? How do you get out? What scenes did I overlook? Come on SFL readers. You asked for a Hell House. Now let's scare the hell out of each other...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

On October 4, 1974 the world welcomed my sass mouth to existence. Humanity has not been the same since.

I wish we could get together for a big SFL crazy, sarcastic birthday party. You wouldn't have to bring a gift. I prefer cash anyways. But since you can't share a party in cyber space, just know you'd be invited and you'd get SFL Bible College credit, too.

Even though it's my birthday, I have a gift for you!

Because I will be 34 in less than 12 hours I have one of my most favorite videos of all time to share with you. My sister tipped me off to this a year ago and Nicole from May I Water Your Camels? reminded me of them. (Go see Nicole's blog. She got the name from my SCL post.) Remember before you see them we all have lots of misconceptions about Jesus. What you are about to behold exploits those stereotypes better than anything I've ever seen. Get out your Depends, you're gonna need 'em.

Happy Birthday Everybody!!!!

As you watch the clips - there are 4 in all - which lines should we adopt for our Bible College? My favorite: "Thee before thou except after thine." What's your favorite?

October is Halloween Month!

If you've been reading my site for any amount of time you might call me a little conceited. But I reject that idea. Instead, I propose that I'm more a fanciful blend of obnoxiousness and narcissism. I like to define myself that way for two reasons: A) using big words makes me look cultured and introspective and 2) there might be one or two of you out there who have to look up "narcissism", again pointing out my superior use of the English language. So like I said, I'm not conceited. At all. All that has nothing to do with anything, I'm just saying...

October is Halloween Month at Stacy From Louisville!!!!
(cue giddy girly clapping and screaming) (And yes, that's me last Halloween. I went as a character I made up called, "Family Embarrassment".)

Could we let October pass without acknowledging this ridiculous holiday? Absolutely not. There is so much we could discuss, but I need your help. Leave your suggestions here. Let's get crazy with Halloween!

(For those of you who might want to burn me at the stake for celebrating Halloween please be sure to indicate your disdain for me at

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Heart of the Matter, Part 2

(If you have not read Heart of the Matter, Part 1, please take a moment to do so. What you see here is the conclusion to that post. Thank you to all my readers who patiently waited for the second half of my story. You're awesome!)

I mistakenly thought that once I left my parents' home my pain would dissipate; I would have my own life, on my own terms. It would be the "happily ever after" they didn't give me. But in order to do this my marriage had to be perfect. So when I said my wedding vows I held a bag of resentment in one hand, and a bag of unrealistic expectations in another. Without knowing it I was setting us up for failure. So just to be safe, I kept Dan at a distance, not realizing it was self-fulfilling prophecy.

And God, where was He? Well, most of the time I was running from Him. Or at least keeping Him at a distance. I knew something inside me was very wrong but I didn't want to face it. After all, running a marathon isn't too bad if you think there might be a prize at the finish line.

My daughter was born and my heart softened toward my parents. I began to see them differently, especially when I realized the immense responsibility of being a parent. I realized that responsibility again when my son was born. Yet I still held to my crazy standards. But then, out of nowhere, my ideals of perfection were completely destroyed, once and for all.

BAM! I developed severe postpartum depression. Imagine me running at full speed, only to topple over myself onto pock-marked pavement. Emotionally, I saw my own flesh torn to shreds. The blood that poured was my own. It terrified me. Yet I tried to run again.

BAM! I was diagnosed with a chronic pain disease. The road beneath me ended at the edge of a cliff. I couldn't run anymore. I hurt all over from wounds and exhaustion, the potential fall from the ledge made every movement throb with anxiety.

THIS. WAS NOT. What I wanted!! Not only was I fighting my own demons emotionally and spiritually, but my physically ability to manage life was decaying. Perfection was no longer an option and I didn't have a plan B. It all came crashing around me, devastating and isolating.

Dan couldn't talk me down from the ledge. I wouldn't let him.

The kids were too little to help, let alone understand.

My sister lived far away.

"God, where are you?" In my brokenness I wailed out to Him. I prayed He would listen because I needed help and was finally in a place to ask for it. I resigned myself to accepting whatever He chose to give.

Always faithful, God was just waiting for me to ask. He sent the perfect person to minister to me on His behalf. He sent my mom.

For 3 months she set her life aside. Every Monday she drove 200 miles from her front door to mine. She stayed Monday through Friday. She cleaned my house. She took me to doctor’s appointments. She took care of my children. She folded laundry, cleaned up toddler messes, and tried to encourage Dan. As I watched her come and go to my house, week after week, the hand of God rested heavily on me. My mother, the same woman I rejected, was the glue that held my household together. The irony rocked me. Gently, God forced me to face the fact that I had seriously misjudged something.

My dad, who had worked nearly 15 hours a day while I grew up, was more of a stranger to me than a dad. However, when I fell apart, he started called me nearly every day, just to say he loved me. At first I acted cordially but blew him off. Yet the phone calls continued to come. I realized how much I loved him, too. I looked forward to hearing from him every day. Again, the irony and the hand of God rested heavily.

The concept of forgiving my parents had never really occurred to me before then. But it seemed so clear that working harder to overcome my past only fixed my focus on what was behind me, making it my god.

One summer evening, 3 years ago, I sat with a friend and recounted to her my desire to forgive my parents. Tears streaked my face because the task seemed bigger than me. It took me an hour of pacing the floor before I hit my knees. The words fell out of my mouth in rapid succession. Like a floodgate, healing washed over my soul.

The enormity of letting go of my superiority complex is beyond what I can describe. But in the middle of my prayer a bolt of conviction shot through me, silencing me before the Lord. In those moments I came face to face with the real heart of the matter: My sin - the sin of me not forgiving my folks - was what needed the repentance. Never mind what my parents may have done against me, that was over. What I had done to God was put myself above Him, wearing my religiosity like a whore's banner as I mocked His grace. Yes, it was that serious.

God was gracious enough to sharpen my focus and gently lead me as I laid myself bare before Him. Second only to the moment I first accepted Him, this was the most powerful moment of my life. The bloodied wounds I'd been wearing were the same wounds that in those moments He bandaged and healed. You see, my wounds were unnecessary; I traded them for Christ's. He freed me from all the self-destruction, the pursuit of perfection, and the bondage of my past. His forgiveness can do that. It changed me in ways only God and I can fully know.

Within weeks I faced my parents again. To each one I confessed my sin against them, saying something along the lines of, "I have been holding things against you for a long time. I hurt our relationship and I'm sorry I did that. Will you please forgive me?" For each one, I could see weight released from their faces. God built a bridge that day between them and me. And 3 years later I have a relationship with them that isn't perfect but it's enjoyable and genuine. I love them.

Did I finally get the perfection I longed for? No, no I didn't. Are my parents suddenly transformed into passionate Believers? No, but there's always hope, which is more than we ever had before. I wish I could tell you I don't run from God any more, but sometimes I do. Remember that chronic pain issue I deal with? I think He's given it to me as a way of keeping me from depending on myself. I can truly say that I'd rather have pain every day and depend on God than to be completely healthy and try to be my own salvation.

If you read this and are tempted to think I'm some body's hero, I'd beg you to reconsider. I'm an everyday person trying to sort out what it means to give God my heart instead of my lip service.
Some of you have contacted me because you identified with part 1 of my story. My most sincere desire is that you'd identify with seeking God's forgiveness and extending His grace whenever possible. Others have contacted me with concern over the raw nature of my story. In all honesty, it is no problem for me to tell you about my mistakes, but only if I tell you what God did with them. This story is not about me as much as it is about what God did when I stopped running. That is what makes it worth sharing.

From personal experience I know forgiveness in Christ is a wealth that can't be overspent. But I dare you to try. Today.

(Special thanks to my friend, The Linguist, who talked me down off a completely different ledge Tuesday afternoon.)