When grace walks in the door

front door crayon

Last week the dreaded happened. The call went something like, “Hey girl, I’m in the neighborhood. Do you mind if I pop in for a quick cup of coffee?” Gulp. Crazed look. Mind whirling and stomach churning.

What I loathe even more than cleaning my house is someone popping in before it’s cleaned (or at least before I’ve had time to stash everything in cabinets and perform the great Houdini cover-up).

“Um. Um. Huh? Can’t hear you. Bad connection.” Then more stalling and stammering as simultaneously dishes are crashing into the sink and pillows are flying across the room like I’m competing for gold at the parish fair hackie sack toss.

Then the flashing thought, “Oh Dang! She’s gonna see all my junk. And the new marks on my walls!”

Mute button activated. “Girls, get those toys in that toy box RIGHT NOW! And don’t you dare open that door ’til I tell you to!”

“How close are you again? The kids are sure rowdy today. And I’m a mess, so is my house, we’d hardly be able to visit.” To which the response was, “Honey, I’ve seen your mess, and your kids. Now turn the coffee pot on for me, ’cause I’m not taking no for an answer.”

Five minutes and 20 house-wide sprints later, I opened the door to come face-to-face with blonde hair, a sassy smile, and a full on challenge, “Oh, girl. I’ve come to set you free. I don’t care about your mess.”

“Then welcome to chaos and come on in. While you’re at it, go ahead and check out my mini-Picasso’s new marks on our walls. And if you miss this one at the front door, no worries, just look straight to the back door. She wanted to make sure if you skipped it coming in, you could still catch it leaving out.”

Embarrassment crept up my neck in a patch of pink splotches. “Oh, and never mind the Christmas garland still up. In March. Or the nativity set. I was just thinking I’d leave Christ in Christmas all year long. I figured baby Jesus may as well stay out to usher in the resurrection season.”

We chuckled and she tried to put me at ease with, “Girl, you know I still have my whole tree up. I just call it my Easter tree now.”

I smiled, but I was still nauseous. Although I’m bothered by my piles and my junk, it wasn’t really about the mess. I was downright sick at the thought of someone ACTUALLY SEEING all my mess.

I’ve said before that God meets us in the middle of our mess. He’ll also send people knocking at our door, even with a dreaded pop-in, to help set us free from being bound by our mess. The ones on the outside, and even more, the mess on the inside.

We just have to let them in. Not to wallow in it with us, but to talk it out and walk it out beside us.

Sometimes God delivers us from our mess. Most times, He’ll deliver us through our mess.   And if you run from the front door, no worries, He’ll catch you heading out the back door. All you have to do is open the door. Then He’ll take you from a mess to a message. So you’ll have a story for His glory.

Quick! No time to cover up and pillow toss. Who have you invited into your mess? If no one comes to mind, let’s get to talking and walking here. Because we weren’t meant to do life or our mess alone.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Rev. 3:20 (NLT)

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NLT)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19 (ESV)

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From a Mess to a Masterpiece

color pic

 “Christie! Come in here and get a look at this!” I knew it had to be good, ’cause not much makes my sweet husband yell. So I bee-lined to the living room.

Wide-eyed and speechless, I stared.  We were livid, fuming, seeing red.  Literally.  And more specifically, volcanic red.  To match the smoke stack from our ears.  Just a notch down on the color wheel from barn door red. Except it wasn’t on the wheel.  It was on our walls.  Again.

We let the smoke and our heads clear before doling out the punishment.  Then God rolled out a lesson for me as well just a little while later when our 3-year-old culprit headed for the kitchen, full speed ahead, a girl on another artistic mission.

She slowed down just long enough to lure me in with those blue-grey eyes, mile-long lashes, and with that butter and syrup smile I could sop up with all my mama kisses.  I almost did ’til I realized she really was only trying to butter me up.

She fully leveraged all that sugar for a gutsy request. “Mamma, I really, really neeeeed to bring some crayons to my room.”  Then as high pitched as her raspy voice could get, she followed with,”Can I have some–pleeease?”

That girl’s got gaul, I’ll give her that. It went from sweet to sour in 30 seconds flat. As I stood at a sink full of dishes, hand on hip, all sweetness of the moment dripped off the plate and it quickly turned into a mean mama moment. I puckered my lips and my no.

“No, you may not. Nope. No way.  Not on your life or your little tippy toes will you ever get a crayon again. Well, maybe by 7–IF you’re lucky.  Now you look into that living room, do you see those red marks all over that wall?  That’s why mommy will NOT give you any more crayons. And don’t ask me again.”

“Ok, Mommy.  I’m sawee,” she said as she retreated in defeat. A rare, quiet surrender.

And with my eyes glued to the crayon walls, I heard that still, small voice. God’s truth heaped upon me with dollops of sweet reminders. I’ve got colorful marks and mars all over the walls of my life too.

Yet when I humbly seek Him, He never shoos me away.  When I sincerely repent, the equivalent of my little girl’s, “I’m sawee,” He doesn’t point His nail-scarred hand to my mistakes.  He points His finger straight to the cross, where He shed His life in the color of crimson for you and me.  He forgives, chooses to forget our sins, and only remembers His promise. Then remakes our sinful sketches into His masterpiece–traced in deep, red love and white-as-snow grace.

 It’s the picture-perfect, beautiful exchange. So although I wish my girls stayed in the lines, on the paper, and off my living room walls with their crayons, I look at those walls with a whole new view now.

 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25 

 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

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Song: Beautiful Exchange


Praying down the walls


“March! 1-2-3…March! I’m the line leader!” my 5-year-old confidently proclaimed as she established her territory around the perimeter of our living room.  She held that leadership position for all of a minute before she was ousted by the elbows and shoves of her 3-year-old sister.

“No, I’M the line leader!” the little one rebutted, with her hat on her head, her flute in her mouth, and her full-fledged courage in her steps.  They would’ve marched (and fought) all day if I didn’t step in to set them both straight and place them BOTH back in line.

As I halted their mini-march around our little house of Jericho, I thought back to the bible story.  When God’s chosen people, the Israelites, marched in the POWER and the presence of a mighty God, the impossible happened.  Walls came crumbling down.  And they made it into their promised land.

I think about us, our families, our faith and the walls of doubt and struggles that we all face.  And how we have the same God-granted opportunity to hold our position in prayer, to blow our horns of praise, and to keep marching on in faith.  And then, by the hand of the living God, watch those man-made walls come crashing down.

How long did they march? As long as it took.  How long should we keep marching and praying until we make it to our promise?  As long as it takes.  Until the walls come crumbling down.  And know that He who promises is always faithful.  So march and pray on girlfriends!  Pray on!

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.  Hebrews 11:30

Song:  Place of Freedom (I’m gonna shout your name, ’til the walls come falling down!)



The same applies to praying for our country as we consider the obstacles we face as a nation.  Technically, the Israelite priests, leaders, marched around the city of Jericho 13 times before the walls finally came down. So ironically today, on MARCH 13th, I’m revisiting Jericho, as well as our own country’s challenges.

With that thought in mind, I want to highlight a new book, Exploring the Faith of America’s Presidents, by my friend Kendra Armstrong. With lives short on time and long on lists, this quick read sums up what many of us have wondered, yet never taken the time to explore: Where did our own presidential “line leaders” stand on matters of faith, and even more, what words have they spoken that have stood the test of time?

Check it out.  The authors have done all the research and wrapped it up in an easy-to-understand, quick-to-read format, and even better–they’ve provided faith principles to apply!

A favorite presidential quote from the book:

“If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” Ronald Reagan.


kendra-armstrong   Kendra book



Squeezing Tinker bell

Run, Tink run!

Run, Tink run!


“Mama! Where arrrre you? I can’t seeee you!”  Those were my little Tinker bell’s parting words as we bobbed and weaved our way through the close of her Disney World birthday celebration.  I squeezed her hands to remind her that I was still there–even when she couldn’t quite see me.

For days, we gently squeezed and comforted her on the “dark and scaaary rides” (for a 3-year-old, even the first-time ride through “It’s a small world”  is a little scary and not so small after all).

And we gripped her hands along the winding sidewalks filled with cattle herds of people rushing in all around.  This sassy Tinker bell’s never been so obedient to hold my hand, and I’ve never been so thankful for her light-up shoes.

The nights were filled with the crackle and pop of fireworks as she draped her blanket over her face, threw her hands over her ears, and then burrowed her head and her fears deep into her daddy’s neck as he ducked for cover.

“I want to go home!” she said repeatedly on our trip.  I completely understood. At home, she’s a bull in the china cabinet, but there, she’s a timid little calf still trying to find her legs– and her mama.  She prefers the familiar and likes her cozy, easy chair over the glitz and glam of a princess castle.  Just like her mama.

“Baby girl,” I assured her on the long ride home, “We’ll be home soon, I promise.”  We distracted each other with the Itsy Bitsy Spider song belted out about a hundred times.  And I had to squeeze her hand a few more times over hundreds of miles, until our tires finally crunched down our street. Until we finally made it home.

I can only give her simple, reassuring words now, along with smiles and tender squeezes. But the years will come when I’ll tell my little Tinker bell the words she’ll need to hear to find her wings.  And I’ll fully explain God’s Words that will give wind to those wings.  Then I’ll stand back to watch her take her flight of faith.

Along the way, I’ll tell her:

1.  When you can’t see in front of you, know that your Heavenly Daddy is always right beside you- squeezing your hand to remind you of His vast love for you.  It’s an abiding love that remains even when you can’t feel His presence or understand His purpose.

2.  And when you feel like you’re walking through a fog of faith, know that He’s shed light on the pages of His Word to put light to your feet of faith.

3.  During the darkest of days or the unexpected fireworks of life, know that you’re never too old to burrow your face and your fears in your Heavenly Daddy’s neck. He’s your greatest protector and faithful defender.

4.  Know that there will be a day when the Son will come out and dry up all the rain, and all of your tears, and there will never be dark again.

5.  And until we all make it home, we’ll keep walking– and flying along the course of faith He’s custom made for each of us.  So fly on Tinker bell!  Fly on!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. Isaiah 60:20

Haven Tinkerbell



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