For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Truth

I don't know why I write this blog.

There. I said it.

The truth is I started writing again because one of the things we are told as writers is to write what we want to read, and frankly, I can't find much I want to read. I'm sick of being lectured on things. I'm sick of whining "conservatives" who just drone on and on about the presidential election and what a mess the politics in the United States are. I'm tired of the religious walls. I don't want to read anymore about any of it.

I read David Baldacci books.

And the worst part is I read them because I can relate to the characters.

His characters are warriors that have this numb or dead space either someone, life situations, or they have created that allow them to act in ways that the general populace doesn't like. These characters are detached, and while they realize they are not the norm and don't really have the emotional capability for happily ever after, they realize they are good at what they do, so they do jobs--in the trenches, ugly jobs--that the general populace would find too distasteful or immoral to do.

And I read those characters, and I see me.

Then I sit down at this computer and try to write about life and what is happening and give it some deep spiritual spin because I have this idea that surely someone else out there is looking for something not like everything else, but I have begun to doubt that.

I write things that are poetic and emotional, and people read those, but when I write things that could actually change someone's life, those pretty much get ignored. Honestly, it makes me think people want a place to commiserate but not a place to change their lives, and I seriously stink at the whole commiserating thing.

I quit writing for months and months. Part of that is because I really needed time to be silent, to hear God, to not have voices with opinions and advice. Part of it is because I felt like I was believing a lie that I made a difference, that lives were somehow better, that somehow people were finding God in what I wrote.

I started writing again because I thought I could present Truth in a way that drew people to God, that in understanding spiritual disciplines or how to develop intimacy or some other spiritual teaching someone might find a clearer path to Him or deeper intimacy with Him, but I have to be honest, I think I was wrong.

When I wrote during the first few years after Rob died and things changed, several people said my strength is that I write my heart. Well, here is the truth, I don't write my heart anymore. I have no desire to put it out on display for people to comment on and criticize or judge and not understand.

Sitting beside me on the floor is my brother's dog, Merida. She is with us for a few weeks while he does long hours of overtime for work. She looks up at me confused because she doesn't know why she is here, why things are so unfamiliar, and where my brother is. I reach down and pet her and tell her it's okay, I"m here because I totally relate.

Merida just gave a deep sigh and lay down on the rug by my bed. I guess she got tired of roaming the house looking for my brother and trying to figure things out. That is very much how I feel, and I don't have a deep spiritual lesson for you.

You know, spiritual teachers and leaders don't talk about being lost in the desert while they are in the desert. They talk about it after the fact, when they don't look crazy and flakey and when they have some deep faith lesson to tell us all.

Well, y'all, I'm in the desert, and I can tell you that I believe God is faithful, loving, and kind. I don't doubt Him or His character, but right now, I feel barren with nothing to offer, and there are two ways to go with this: letting His strength show through my weakness or like David's men, go back to camp until I am useful again. I guess we'll both have to wait until tomorrow to figure out which it'll be.


Friday, October 21, 2016


Today WonderBoy took one more step toward being WonderMan as he took his place as a licensed driver. I am so incredibly proud of him, and WonderGirl and I rejoiced with him and took him out for a celebratory lunch. It has been a wonderful day.

It's also been bittersweet.

Some days I wonder what their dad would say if he could see them now. The kids think about it. We talk about it. Both of them wonder if he would be proud of them, if he would enjoy their maturing quirkiness. Of course, I think the questions are pointless. How could he not totally love these amazing kids and be totally in awe of the young people they are and the adults they are becoming? But they wonder. I would wonder, too.

Of course, I am also aware that they are who they are because they survived the loss of their dad and have been raised by God and me the last 5 1/2 years. There is strength and optimism in them that would not have been there had they not been on this road, and there is an honesty about them that most adults avoid. It is a hard won honesty, and it is beautiful. But like them, I wonder what their dad would say to see these amazing young adults.

And days like today when everything is so amazing and joyous that echoing question seems to be loudest.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Remaining Faith, my comment

Yesterday I shared with you my John Perron's words on Luke 18:1-8 and his focus on the last sentence:

When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?

At the end of his teaching, he asked if there were questions or comments. I chose not to add my comments to yesterday's post because I really wanted what he said to stand on its own because it is that good. What I added in class was:

The word faith is not merely an intellectual knowledge of something. It is not the belief that something exists. Faith speaks to fidelity and faithfulness. It stands when nothing else does.

God is not Santa Clause, and our prayers should not be our wish list we expect Him to grant. Prayer is communication and conversation. It is building a relationship. Faith stands even when the relationship is hard and even when the answers are not what we want.

For me, the question, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on earth?" asks a simple question:

Are you faithful to a relationship with me, or do you simply want what I can give you,
and if you don't get what you want, will you walk away?

Because if you can just walk away, you don't have faith, and when the Son of Man comes, where does that leave you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Remaining Faith

Last week my friend John Perron gave a really good lesson on Luke 18:1-8.

1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”
Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

While everyone else in the class seemed to focus on the need to be persistent in asking, John looked at something out: persistent faith.

I asked him if I could share it here, and he kindly said yes.

"When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
by John Perron 
So, here it is.  Not quite the way I said it last night as I was letting the Holy Spirit bring out what God wanted said and I took no notes as it happened.

 First, the judge in the parable was interested only in himself.  He only answered the widow's petition because her persistent requests for a decision were aggravating to him.  He agreed to deliver a decision for two reason: 1. to shut her up, and 2. to secure his own physical safety "...lest she finally come and strike me."

 Second, Jesus made it clear that God is not like the judge and doesn't answer prayer to shut us up.  God does not find our prayers aggravating. Instead, Jesus suggests that God will answer our prayers quickly and, to those of us who are persistent in prayer "...who call out to him day and night",  as the widow was persistent, God will answer even more quickly; as if that is even possible.  Faith and prayer are two sides of the same coin.  If you have faith, you go to God in prayer; when we pray, our faith increases, and so on, and so on.

 But the bottom line is that Jesus, in all his parables, challenges us.  In the final verse of this particular story, Jesus asks, "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith?"  The challenge is for each of us, individually, to question the state of our faith; is it living or dead?  Will Jesus find, in each of us individually, someone who, when prayers "were not answered" chose to lose heart, patience and faith and simply give up on prayer; letting our faith begin to die?  Will he find someone who, regardless of God's answer to prayer, remained in persistent prayer to God and trusted in God completely; no matter what?
Something I meant to share last night and left out:  St Monica prayed for her son, persistently, for close to 30 years.  Praying that he would repent and come to faith in the church.  Had she not done so, the church would have never had one of its greatest theologians; Bishop St. Augustine of Hippo.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Don't Settle

It's tempting sometimes, when you want something really badly. When your heart is kind of miserable, and you just not feel so much like this.

Two weeks ago I was asked if I would consider running for the board of a volunteer group of which I am a member. I considered it. Great platform to work on some programs I really want to start and build. When I prayed about it, I simply heard, "Don't settle."

In other words, wait. Something you want more is coming.

Last week I was invited to a luncheon by the leader of the widows group of the church we just left. I'm not so much into groups for widows. It is hard to feel like I really fit, not because of them but because...well, that is another story. Still, when I explained that I live an hour from the main campus and where the group would meet, the sweet lady said she would keep me in the loop because they want to start a group at our campus. For quite a while I considered volunteering to start the group over here. I could do it. I love planning and organizing, and it would be...something that felt like I was giving back or using my gifts. But, that wouldn't fix the reasons we left, so...

Last night WonderBoy and I were at a local parking lot so he could practice his parallel parking for his driving test, and the pastor pulled up to find out what was going on. Funny how all you have to say to anyone with a license is "parallel parking", and they nod because they know. So Pastor Ed and I chatted a bit. They have a fall festival coming up, and he invited us. Invited us to Sunday School, Bible study, and services, too. Nice man. I enjoyed the chat. The church is close to home. When I came home I looked up the website to see what they believed. Fundamental beliefs. No real place for women to do much, maybe teach the kids' classes like usual, which I don't care to do. Certainly no place for my gifts to be utilized. But you know, when you just kind of what to belong somewhere and someone is nice to you maybe you can make this work? I read through some more, and finally, I just closed the screen and put my computer away and picked up my Bible.

Yesterday morning during my prayer time, the Lord took me to Psalm 68.

5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

I opened my Bible back up to that passage and read it multiple times.

God sets the lonely in families...but the rebellious...those who settle, those who don't trust His faithfulness, those who do things that fill the hole right now instead of waiting for the real in a sun-scorched (or desolate) land.

They have to live with the consequences of their actions, and sometimes those consequences are the hard things they deal with and sometimes those consequences are the loss of the blessings God had planned for them. Both are desolate...lacking Life...lacking the fullness of Him.

Praying for all those who are standing in the loneliness. May you not settle but wait for the fullness of our faithful God.

Monday, October 10, 2016

When I Don't Like Someone

So all last week I talked about dying to self, crawling on the altar, giving up our self-righteousness, and all things feel good. (or maybe not) It all started with a woman in our class saying there were people she didn't like, and she was fine with it. Some folks were stunned that she would say that in a church class, but honestly, where better to say things like that? If we cannot be honest about our sin in church, where can we be honest?

Really, I hate the culture of the church that says, "If you are not great, wonderful, highly favored, blessed, or fantastic, then you are failing, and I cannot believe you had the audacity to walk in the doors of this church and contaminate it with that attitude." Seriously. I hate that. It ostracizes people. It makes them put on the false holiness thing I've been talking about. Church is supposed to be a hospital for the sick, not a social club for the feel-better-than-you. Church is the exact place we should be able to go and say, "Hey, I'm struggling. This person has offended me and hurt me, and I just cannot let it go...but I want to."

And that is the real issue. I think God knows as humans we are going to get offended, get mad, and be tempted to get bitter, and honestly, I think there are some things we have a right to be mad about.

A few months ago I talked with a woman who had endured horrible forms of abuse from an uncle. She had told me about this a few years ago, and we had talked several times about it. She had talked about the acts, the physical pain, the nightmares. She had always talked in a very calm, matter of fact manner. Until this particular phone call, and this time when she called, she was livid. She unleashed on him, her parents who suspected, other family members who suspected. I won't give you the details of what she said she would do to the "son of a bleeeeeep" if he were still alive, but I can assure you, he would be less manly. When had finished unleashing, she said, "You probably think I'm a horrible human being and a lousy Christian because I'm supposed to forgive him so I can be forgiven, and I'm not supposed to use that kind of language. Isn't that what you are supposed to say as a pastor."

I told her first of all, I don't use the Bible to beat people into submission (which is why she talked to me in the first place). Second of all, I think son of a bleep might be a bit kind. Third, I asked a simple question. "Do you plan to stay angry?" I could almost hear her blink through the phone. Finally, she asked, "What?" I repeated my question. "Do you plan to stay angry? See anger is a normal emotion in the grieving process, and Lord knows you have a lot to grieve, so I think the anger is really a sign you are healing. The question, though, is whether you plan to stay here or not. Because part of healing is moving past the anger instead of letting it become the leash that son of a bleep still controls you with."

And that is the real question. Do you plan to stay here, or are you just passing through?

I grew up in a family that lived in offense. Seriously. I think our address was something like,
#1 And Don't You Forget It Lane
Hold a Grudge, (State of) Offense

I saw what being mad all the time did, and while I would love to tell you my choice not to live in offense is all about wanting to be righteous, it isn't. A bit part of my choice is not wanting the consequences of being mad all the time.

Being offended all the time destroys relationships. It destroys marriages. It destroys relationships with family members. It destroys relationships with neighbors. Even some wars all boil down to someone got offended by someone else. Want to see the consequence of someone choosing to be offended? It's called the Holocaust. Why in the world would I want to live in that kind of destructive mindset? Why would I want to teach my children to live in that mindset and curse them to live with broken lives and broken relationships? I am a better mom than that. I choose to be a better person than that.

So what do I do?

1. On a regular basis, I ask the Lord to show me anyone I have a grudge, bitterness, or offense toward.
2. I confess in a real sentence my sin. "Lord, I have not forgiven this person, and I am wrong." Something huge and mysterious happens in our spirits when we actually use the words "I am wrong."
3. I ask forgiveness.
4. I ask to be purified of this bitterness, anger, or offense (1 John 1:9).
5. I ask the Lord to give me His heart for that person and to enable me to love that person like He does.
6. I ask the Lord to help me see the person's strengths, not just what drives me nuts.
7. Sometimes I just flat have to confess I'm struggling and need God to put His love for them in my heart.
8. I ask how I can practically express love to them. Amazing how acting with love nurtures the feeling of love.
9. I pray for that person as I would hope for my very closest friend to pray for me.

And when that person continues to grate on my nerves, because sometimes they do, I remind myself that I choose to love that person, and sometimes at that very moment I am having the nails-on-chalkboard reaction, I'll start to pray, "Lord, help me love them. Help me to see them like you do. Is there something causing this grating behavior that I need to pray about for them? How can I be their friend? Father, I choose to like them. Not just love them, but like them. I choose this. I need your help, but I choose this."

It just occurred to me as I was finishing that last sentence that what I pray can be summed up in one sentence:
Lord, change my heart toward that person.

There you go. Change me.

So often we pray for God to change the other person, to move the other person, to move us so we don't have to deal with the other person. Sometimes He says yes to those, but I have found almost always He says no to those prayers. But the prayer He always says "yes" to is, "Lord, change me that I may love and like more."

Yes, Lord. Change me.

Shalom, y'all.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Prayer Meditations on Hard Days

As we all know, some days hit like a freight train, or enough days in a row with a hard hit each day, and it gets overwhelming. When we get overwhelmed, we have two responses: shutdown or go into default.

Default can be a blessing or a beast. It all depends on what we have fed within ourselves. Today, I'm battling the beast. See, the battle against the beast doesn't happen when we slam into default mode. The battle with the beast takes place when we choose who we will be when the road falls right out from under us and how we plan to respond. Today, I am choosing to be wholly dependent.

So today I am getting still and leaning on Truth.

The Lord is my shepherd,
and He gives me everything I need.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Ye though I was through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear evil of any kind
because He is with me.
His rod and His staff comfort me.
He prepares a table before me right in front of my enemies.
He anoints my head with oil
and my cup overflows.
Surely He will wrap me in goodness and mercy all the days of my life
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
Psalm 51
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
Exodus 15:2
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
James 4:10
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:6
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.
Psalm 37
Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be discouraged.
For the Lord your God goes with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9
I will not be discouraged or afraid because I know that even if I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I need not fear evil for my Lord is with me. He goes before me. He prepares a table for me right in the middle of my enemies so they know Whose I am. He sustains me even in the hardest most intense battle. He leads me with this staff so I go the right direction. He protects me with His rod. Though I stumble and make mistakes, the Lord will not let them ruin me because He delights in me. Even right now when I am saying, "This feels really big," He delights in me. He delights in being strong for me. He delights in my coming to Him for help. In my weakness, He will show Himself to be strong. He is my strength and deliverer. He is my help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
Psalm 34:19
The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
Doesn't mean they disappear in a wisp of smoke, but it means no matter how deep the valley or how dark the shadows, God is in.
Father, thank you for being in my valley, for being my strength, for being my wisdom in addressing all the needs, for being my encourager. Thank you for being my peace. Thank you for creating in me a pure heart that is not heavy with the weight of all this, but a heart that is alloyed with nothing but you, a heart that sees the possibilities and answers, a heart that is steadfast and allows you to bring new things into existence. Give me a steadfast spirit, Lord, that prepares my thinking for future events you want to unfold. Renew me to the joy of knowing you didn't just save my soul from hell but you are saving me everyday from things that discourage me. Sometimes you even save me from me. Thank you for being the rock I can always lean on. Thank you for being my faithful Shepherd.
Thank you.