Alone at Church

I could also entitle this post, “When there aren’t enough volunteers”, but I digress. First, I need to clarify something. I’m not really at my church alone. My husband is usually serving behind the media desk, and my sons are usually sitting with their friends, but I think my experiences over the last several months have been realistic enough that I can write this post.

Now, I think we can all agree that every church depends on its volunteers. And there are many who do volunteer–from the people who sing, to the people who serve on the media team, to the people who serve in the children’s area to the people who pass out communion and the offering baskets, to the people who serve on various committees, to the people who are elders, to the people who are on the greeting team, and I could go on and on. These are all valid jobs within the church, and I don’t have a problem with any of them. I serve on the greeting team myself.

There is another side to this though where spouses and families are encouraged to worship together. I don’t have a problem with this either except for one thing. What happens when spouses aren’t able to worship together? There is exactly one volunteer job at my church where spouses aren’t able to worship together at least for some part of the service. You might see where I’m going with this. That job is serving behind the media desk, and that is where my husband serves. He is good at this job. It is the calling God has given him. So, when I feel alone at church, I feel guilty. When I feel awkward about asking if I can sit with someone else’s family, I feel like an impediment to my husband’s ministry. God and I have had a lot of conversations about this. I don’t want to interfere with how my husband serves God. I want us to serve God together, and I want to support what he does. But, I will admit these last few months have been deeply discouraging for me because there haven’t been enough people available to keep him from having to be back there.

I’ve realized a few things though. One is that the awkwardness I feel in talking to people and being around people is a part of my personality. It has nothing to do with how I minister, and it’s not something God means for me to feel guilty about. The other thing, and the more important thing is that there are people who walk into our churches alone, who don’t have anyone at all to sit with, and who are waiting for someone to ask them to sit with them.  So, I think God is issuing me and all of us a challenge. A challenge to make sure we are careful with our language in talking about how families should worship together and a challenge to make sure people who come into church alone or who are sitting alone always have someone to sit with.  Who knows? You might be Jesus to someone who needs Him.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Being Thankful

November is the month when people talk about being thankful especially since Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of the month. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to be thankful though because we think about all the things we don’t have or the people we think live this life better than we do. The question we should be asking though is, “What does God say about being thankful in Scripture?”

It turns out He says plenty about being thankful.  Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Another example would be from Hebrews 12:28. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

There are quite a few examples from Psalms. Here are two of them–the first being from Chapter 106, Verse 1 “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

The second example is from Chapter 107, Verse 1. “Give thanks to the Lord. for he is good; his love endures forever.”

And finally, from 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

There are many more where those came from. I usually don’t post that many examples, but my fingers just started typing, and it’s come to mind why God wanted me to find so many examples of being thankful. Sometimes, I look at other people, and I see how much better they are at living the Christian life than I am. I am broken, the worst of the worst, and I am completely inadequate. I know this. It is not a surprise to me. But, God is in my heart, and I have the Holy Spirit in my life. He gives me the strength to live bravely for Him. To be the person He wants me to be, not anyone else. To use the gifts He gave me–to do the things that are familiar and to try new things too.  And He wants me to be thankful for all of it. I will do another post that states exactly what I am thankful for on Thanksgiving, but I wanted to write something today that showed what I had learned from God about being thankful.

God’s blessings on you all today!

Letter to God

Dear God,

I know you want us to be real and honest when we talk to you so that is what I’m doing with this letter today. I know, in my reading of the Psalms, that David was very honest with you so I am hoping you will hear me.

What do you want from me, God? For the last several days, I have steeped myself in music that declares your majesty. Declares your love for us. It calms my spirit when I do that. But, then, I think of relating to the outside world, and I am terrified. Is this a result of my depression? My introversion? I don’t know. I just don’t feel like I’m contributing, and I feel like I’m a disappointment to you.

I should have the capability to leap past this like so many others I know do, but I just don’t. Not today, anyway. Maybe it’s the grace part I’m having problems with. Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” These verses can even be seen at the top of this blog.

But, today, God, today, I hurt. Today, I wish I was done with my journey here and in heaven with you though I know it is your choice when my journey is done and not mine. I know when I’m in heaven I won’t hurt anymore. I won’t wonder if I will be missed. I won’t wonder if my life counted. I won’t think or express what I consider to be bad emotions. Why did you make us with good and bad stuff anyway? Wouldn’t it have been easier just to make us with good stuff? Or did the bad come in when sin entered the world? I have no idea. I guess that will be another question you’ll answer later.

Back to the main question I had when I started writing this letter. Does it count as worship when I hurt, when I’m afraid? Is that what you mean when you say trust me? I know you are working in my heart. I know the Holy Spirit is present in my life. I just wish I could get past the idea that, to be an authentic or good Christian, my “church face” needs to be on or my shields need to be up. I wish that I didn’t feel awkward about asking for prayer for myself in person about things that other people don’t consider important. Do you truly see all my tears, God? I hope so.

At the beginning of this letter, I said I knew I could be authentic with you, and I am trusting in that. In the meantime, I will worship you. I will worship you even if I have tears pouring down my face because that is how much I love you.

With Love,

Your Devoted Daughter


Another year has rolled around, and it is almost Commitment Sunday at my church again. I thought about pulling my post out from last year and re-posting it, but I realized I’ve grown by leaps and bounds in my understanding from last year. I decided I wanted, no, I needed, to write these words down so I would remember what God has taught me.

Over the last few weeks, the Bible class lessons and sermons at my church have been on stewardship. I’ve learned things I never knew before. One thing in particular startled me.  There are several words we are used to seeing in Scripture. Words such as believe, praylove, and give, along with many others. Out of those words, the word give appears the most times, 2,162 to be exact.

I would have thought some of those other words might be more important. Like believe, maybe. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  This verse from Scripture is considered the go-to verse for those leading others to Christ, and it has the word believe in it. So, how many times does this word appear in Scripture? Only 272.

What about love? There are so many examples of this I hesitate to post examples for fear I would miss something, but here are just a few.  1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” This example, of course, comes out of the famous love chapter in Scripture where the word appears many times. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  And finally, one of my favorites from 1 John 4:9. “We love because he first loved us.” There are many more examples. But, does this word appear in Scripture more than give? No, it appears 714 times.

Finally, here’s an example of the word pray in Scripture. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Prayer is something Jesus talks a lot about. It doesn’t appear more in Scripture though than give. It only appears 371 times.

So, what is it about that word give that is so important to God? I probably should give some examples from Scripture first. You’re familiar with the words from Matthew 6:11. “Give us today our daily bread.” Here’s another example from Luke 14:33. “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”  Proverbs 25:21 is another example that a lot of us cringe at. “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” And finally, from 1 Thessalonians 5:18. “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

God means for us to give. He does not mean for us to be focused on ourselves. That is why the word appears so many times in Scripture.  Let me repeat myself. God wants us to be focused on others. This is a hard thing to hear in today’s me focused society, and all of us who claim Christ face that challenge of where our focus should be each and every day. We should want to meet that challenge though and defeat it. We should want to show Whose we are to the world around us, and we can do that by what our giving priorities are whether that be money or time or a combination of both. Showing Whose I am by my giving priorities is the desire of my heart, and I pray that it is the desire of yours too.

I am going to quote some of what I wrote in last year’s blog post because I feel it even more strongly this year.

“Do we really want to win our world for Christ? Or is church and what we do at church just something to check off our list and not even the most important part of our list? I don’t want church or my faith to be something to check off a list.  I want my life and my money to show what I really believe in. I want people to see Jesus in me. I might not be able to give as much money as someone else, but, from what I can give, money, as well as time, I want people to see  what my priorities are.  And my very first priority is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

God’s blessings on all of you today!

It is Well with My Soul

It’s been almost a month since I wrote in this blog, and something big has happened since then. My husband has found full-time permanent work. We will not have to leave the city we have learned to call home over the last four years. We will not have to leave our friends, the people who have become our family. It is the first time in a long time that I have felt optimistic about our future.

The optimism though doesn’t come from anything my husband or I have done even though my husband was the one who got the job. It comes from our Lord and Savior who is the ultimate provider. I realized that God had to bring me to the point of saying, like the song, it is well with my soul, even if my husband didn’t get the job.  And I did. I knew that God would be with us no matter what. When I was able to say that, things came through, and it all happened.

God’s timetable is never the same as ours, and that is the main lesson he has been teaching me through all of this. I recalled one other thing last month. It had been a year since we had started praying for full-time permanent work for my husband. I had lost sight of that when he got the contract job and then with everything he and we had gone through while he had the job. When I remembered this, I began to connect the dots.

God has taught me so many lessons this year and has poured out so many blessings. He has given me a strong desire to cement my knowledge of the faith I claim which I will talk about more in the months to come. But, for now, I will finish with the words from the song “It is Well with My Soul”

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    • Refrain:
      It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Just Show Up

God has taken me on a journey this week that I wanted to share with you all.  If you’ve read any of my most recent posts, you know my husband has been out of work. We are approaching the two and a half month mark, and I won’t mince words. This has been hard. A lot of what I have dealt with has been in my mind. (Spiritual warfare is alive and well, thank you very much.) From worrying about what people think of us, to wondering how things were going to get paid for, to making sure our needs for space were met, to teaching my 10th grade son and adjusting to our college aged son being gone, we have had a lot on our plate. Sometimes I’ve wondered whether it’s been too much. And then on top of that, I’ve wanted to make sure I didn’t lose my heart for giving and showing that we were depending on God for our provision and stability.

I think that’s where I ran into a problem, and it’s where my journey started. I started thinking that the only kind of giving that counted was financial giving. I should have known better than that. Being willing to give runs the whole gambit, and it’s not just financial. Not by a long shot.

So, back to the journey. We’ve been waiting this week on news from a second interview. The job sounds like it would be a perfect fit for my husband. He had the interview at the beginning of the week, and now, we’re sitting here at the end of the week, and he hasn’t heard anything. I don’t know if any of you have ever been in that position, but it can mess with the mind as it has messed with mine. God didn’t leave me alone though–through the tears, through the prayers, and through the things He encouraged me to read.

Through all of that, He brought the important way to give to the forefront of my mind. It’s the one I think most people would consider the most important, but is done the most rarely because of the busyness of our lives. What way of giving is that? Being present or just showing up and doing what’s needed. After God gave me that realization, I thought back over the last ten weeks. Countless people have just shown up and done what was needed. From the man who called my husband last week to ask if he wanted to ride down to see our son at college, to the couple who bought us tickets to the movie War Room, to the people who sat with me and prayed with me while I blubbered on Wednesday, to all the people who have been on their knees praying for a job to come for my husband, people have shown up when we’ve most needed them. There’s not any magic to this. It’s just a commitment all of them have made to live in community with their Christian brothers and sisters. To just show up whenever and wherever needed.

Just showing up is something I need to recommit myself to doing. To being aware of who is and what is going on around me. I think that is just as important, no, more important than giving money because you see, I think that’s what Jesus did during the time He was here. He showed up to the people who needed Him the most.

God’s blessings on all of you today!


Four Years

It sneaked up on me this year. On this day four years ago, we drove into Birmingham. I didn’t imagine then when we drove down 280 at 7 PM that this place would become home and that I would meet people who would become family. People who are so dear to me that I can barely breathe when I think of how much they mean to me. We came here to take advantage of an employment opportunity for my husband and though he is no longer at that company, I am grateful we were able to move here for the opportunity.

Yes, this year has been a struggle. We have dealt with sad and happy occasions. First, the happiest one. My older son graduated from high school and started college. When we moved here, one of my utmost desires was that we could stay in one place for both of my children’s high school years. We’ve managed that for the older one. He has made lifelong friends and put down roots getting to know other people–teens and adults who love and care about him. I wasn’t able to stay in one place for my high school years, and I wanted to do that for both of my children.

We have also dealt with difficult situations. With unemployment. With sickness. With going from a household of four to a household of three. There have been many adjustments. Sometimes the rope I was holding onto would fray and almost fall apart, especially over the last couple of weeks.

But, I would not change a minute of it. These last four years have been precious to me for two reasons. The first is because of the church home, the family we have found. I have learned about truly being a part of a community and about being loved as part of that community. Yes, it is imperfect. It won’t be perfect until we all get to heaven. But, knowing even that kind of imperfect love has meant the world to me. The other reason, the most important reason is that God has come back to my heart and to my home, and I understand what grace truly means. So very grateful to my Lord and Savior!

God’s blessings on you all today!




It’s been a little over a year since I started this blog, and while I covered the topic of grace in my first post, I thought it was time I revisited it. God has been pouring out His grace on me in the last few weeks. Pouring out His grace–even though I’ve doubted, even though I’ve struggled, even though I couldn’t feel His presence. He’s been working on my heart and spirit though as I indicated the other day with my post about prayer. I had an idea about how He could answer my prayer, and that is what I was praying for.

But, when He told me I needed to change the prayer and I did so, things started to happen. No, my husband hasn’t found a job yet, but the blessings and the grace He has poured out have continued to astound me.  God is growing characteristics in me that needed to be sharpened and  refined in the fire such as patience, humility, understanding of others, and a true acceptance of grace. Things that we need are coming to us more rapidly than I can even type, and I find myself wanting to share them with others. None of this is being done with perfection and will not result in perfection, but I am rejoicing anyway because I have the “peace that passes understanding.”

I am going to end with the words of an old hymn.

Grace Greater than Our Sin

  1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
    Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
    Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
    There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

    • Refrain:
      Grace, grace, God’s grace,
      Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
      Grace, grace, God’s grace,
      Grace that is greater than all our sin!
  2. Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
    Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
    Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
    Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
  3. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide;
    What can we do to wash it away?
    Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
    Brighter than snow you may be today.
  4. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
    Freely bestowed on all who believe!
    You that are longing to see His face,
    Will you this moment His grace receive?

God’s blessings on all of you today!

The Words of a Prayer

As I wrote in my journal earlier, God, sometimes, needs to make things very simple for me, and He has done so this morning. I was not specific in the posts I made last week as to why I was struggling. I plan to be specific this morning, and it’s related to the words of a prayer.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but praying is difficult for me sometimes. It’s hard to know what to say. I wonder if that’s why Romans 8:26 – 27 was included in Scripture.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

I think it might have to do with weakness. It’s not easy showing weakness to others. That might be why we call the church office with our prayer requests as opposed to sharing them within the body. It might be why we share them online as opposed to getting together with Christian friends and praying. Or it might be because we just do not know what to say, and we are afraid to be emotional or to appear selfish.

God has called me to something different though which requires specificity and honesty. Right now, my husband is unemployed for the second time in a year. I want to be clear. I don’t say this for any other reason except because it’s a fact. He has also been our sole income since I homeschool our younger son. In the last week though, I have picked up a part-time tutoring job which I hope will start bringing in some income quickly. Many of you have, more than likely, been through the same thing and have had the same fears. Fears of being homeless, fears of not being able to pay your bills, fears of being hungry, fears of what people are saying, fears of appearing selfish, or fears of not being able to stand strong in your faith.

These are all fears I have dealt with in the last few weeks. And, those fears, I think, have colored how I’ve prayed. Praying for my husband to find a job. Praying for his health which is what started this mess. Just praying, for God to bless our family. When He didn’t, that’s when I started to struggle.

But, God, who knows my heart better than I ever could, showed me my thinking was backwards in what I was praying for. And, this morning, He gave me the words to a prayer. A prayer that is more of a “safety net” than any safety net our society offers. A prayer of just two sentences that reflects our whole situation and puts the focus back where it needs to be–on my Lord and Savior. So, that prayer will be the prayer I offer as we walk through this fire. A prayer I will pray by myself, and a prayer I will pray in front of others.

Dear God, help me to trust you for our provision and for our stability. And help me to love others in your name.

God’s blessings on you today!

Quivering in the Corner

My writing time has been full and honest this week as I’ve searched and struggled. I know, for a fact, I don’t have it all together like some people I see at my church. Our pastor likes to say we are all dirt bags which I resonate with. I’m not trying to say these other people are perfect or think they are perfect, but they seem to have all their ducks in a row regarding faith where I see my faith and realize I’m just forming the first row. In the two previous posts I’ve made this week, this was a troubling thing for me. I didn’t feel like it was right that I had to search and struggle and that I had doubt, that God didn’t like it because I had doubt.

I’ve changed my mind about this though, mainly, for two reasons. One, because some psalms were read to me that said some of the same things I had been thinking. I read through all the psalms last year, and I’m starting to think I should do a read-through of that particular book of Scripture every year. There was one psalm in particular that didn’t even include a praise to God at the end, and He still included it in Scripture.  It is Psalm 38, one of David’s psalms. I am going to quote it here because it reflects what I’ve been thinking so well.

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me,
    and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
    there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
    like a burden too heavy to bear.

My wounds fester and are loathsome
    because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
    there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
    I groan in anguish of heart.

All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
    even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
    my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps,
    those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
    all day long they scheme and lie.

13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
    like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear,
    whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat
    or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”

17 For I am about to fall,
    and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
    I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many have become my enemies without cause[b];
    those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil
    lodge accusations against me,
    though I seek only to do what is good.

21 Lord, do not forsake me;
    do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
    my Lord and my Savior.

Amazing! David thought the same things I have been thinking. So, if someone who was close to God’s heart thought the same things I’ve been thinking, it’s okay for me to think them.

The other reason I’ve changed my mind is because of a phrase I  was introduced to. This phrase is actually the title of this post–Quivering in the Corner.  It’s a beautiful picture of what my heart has been like. I have quivered because my wounds have been so great. I have quivered, not feeling like I could share my thoughts, even in prayer to God much less to anyone else. I have quivered because I felt like I needed to pretend. I have learned that God doesn’t want me to pretend though and that Jesus will sit with me while I quiver. I hope by being honest with my fears, with my wounds, and with my doubts, I will be able to help someone else know that it’s okay to quiver in the corner.

And now, for the phrase I’ve used since I started this blog, but one I have felt like I couldn’t use this week.

God’s blessings on all of you today!