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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Prayer of Gratitude...with Sniffles and Sneezes on the Side

Father God, I have a head cold, and my sinuses are miserable. My eye is watering. My nose is running, and I can't sleep because of the pressure in my head.
And you know what, Father?
I am thankful.
I am thankful for the warmth of my home and the hot water that runs in my shower where I can stand and let steam be one of my favorite things. I am thankful for hot soup and cold ice water.
I am thankful for the sun that comes up in the morning, and the stars that fill the night.
I am thankful for you and the to-the-core knowing that you love me because that really does help.
I am thankful for a recliner where I can rest and doze.
I feel extremely blessed to have my life, my children, my friends. I feel blessed to be loved by wonderful people. I feel blessed that when I am too miserable to read anything or even watch anything, I can lie with my eyes closed and just spend time with you.
Father, I have a very good life. Thank you.
In Jesus' name, I offer this deep gratitude to you.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Prayer for Folks Getting Through the Holidays

Father God,

 I lift up every reader of this message today, and I ask you to bless them. I ask you to comfort them in ways beyond human ability. For those who just got through one holiday and are looking at the Mt. Everest of holidays before them, I ask you to give them joy and show them how to walk in it.
For those who were disappointed due to broken personal relationships, I ask you to show them how they can be an answer and comfort them where they can't.

For those who have questions about the reality this may be a "last holiday season", give them comfort in a way only you can. Show them how to make this a joy and not a season of fear and grief. Show them how to be fierce in finding joy despite the grief.

For those who just had a great day and nothing new is going on because life is just totally amazing, thank you. Thank you for giving them the joy and peace of your blessings. I ask you to speak to them about intimacy with you and how to increase that intimacy. You always want to be more intimate with us, and that is a crazy amazing thing.

Father, thank you for our lives, for the ups and downs, crazy turns and twists, for the hope in the midst of the grief. Thank you that you still have plans for us. I know you do because we are still reading this, and I thank you because there is not one person reading this that is beyond your ability to forgive, save, redeem, and restore.

I thank you because you are God and you love us even when we really aren't deserving of that love, and I thank you that because of that love you gave your Son Jesus as a sacrifice for all of us and in HIm is salvation for anyone who believes in Him as Savior and Lord. Father, thank you for your comfort, for your mercy, for your kindness. Thank you for tending our hearts when they ache and bringing joy in the hard places.

Father, I ask you to show us where we do not serve you well, where we want you as Savior but dismiss you as Lord. I pray that in your great mercy you would reveal the disconnect so we do not stand before you and hear, "I never knew you." Father, lead us into repentance that we would be forgiven from our sins and purified from all unrighteousness.

Be glorified in us.

I praise you Lord for your goodness, for your love, for the very wonder of you. I lay my petitions before you in the holy and all-powerful name of Jesus, Amen

Praising God in the Hazy Silence

Father God,
I praise you today because you are worthy of my praise. In fact, you alone are worthy to receive praise from my lips. You alone are worthy of my worship.
Father, as I sit here looking through my huge window into the grey outside, I am in awe of you. I am in awe of the trees you grew, and I am in awe of the brilliant colors you compel them to turn each fall. Who but you could have such an amazing idea? And I wonder, did you do that for them so they could do that for you? Did you give them a way of giving back a gift of brilliance to you? Is this part of creation's worship of you?
I look at the fog settled thick across the pastures, and the beauty of the haze leaves me amazed. Who knew making things so hard to see clearly could also make them so beautiful? In photography, we are taught to make things crisp and clear so a person can see them clearly, and you slip in this haze that blurs everything, and in it, you can be seen clearly.
And in this quiet that surrounds me, I hear you. I hear the hugeness of you. I hear the absolute presence of you even in the absence of sound.
Lord, I pray for those who are looking for you but can't find you because they are looking for you in human wisdom and in human ways. I pray they would find you in the bareness of trees that slip off their leaves know you will breathe on them new in the spring. I pray they find you in the haze and that in the fuzziness of it all, they would see you clearly, and I pray that in the silence, they would hear you speak clearly to them.
Father, take the things that look so unlike you and show things about yourself these precious folks need to see so clearly.
Thank you for being a God who seeks us in ways that we sometimes feel and can't find our way out of.
You are so worthy of our praise, of our worship, and I offer you my praise, and I worship you alone as God.
In Jesus, name I pray,

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks for the Perfect Thanksgiving

You ever have those days that seem utterly perfect? That was my day.

I woke up about 6:30 after a deep night's sleep. Eight beautiful hours of rich rest. I woke up to my brother's dog sleeping beside my bed and wagging her tail when she saw me peek over the mattress.

Then I started coffee, fed the dogs, set out the rib roast so it would come to room temperature, and went outside to start a fire in the fire pit.

Over the next three hours I did some lunch prep, like getting stuff in the oven on time, but mostly I sat by the fire pit wrapped in a blanket, praying, drinking coffee, reading my Bible, and being wondrously content.

The Larsens, our "other family" invited us to dinner with them today. We love them. They are just amazing gifts, but because we had company coming, we had to decline. Still, Dawna brought of Pink Stuff. One of our absolute favorites! And since lunch was going to be later in the day, we did a taste test for breakfast.

My non-bio bro texted, and we chatted some. He does my heart good.

My friend Leanna texted to wish us a happy Thanksgiving. I had actually thought about her earlier in the day. Four years ago, we spent the holiday when her family. In fact, that year we spent a lot of holidays with her family. Thanksgiving was a wondrous blessing because our family wasn't getting together, WonderGirl had just had her appendix out, and I needed to not be needed. So Leanna's family let us enjoy their company and couch. Despite their having copious amounts of incredibly delicious food, they also let me bring my mom's dressing, and I really needed that. I miss my mom a lot at holidays.

My brother flew home from Georgia last night, so he was able to come over today. We had dinner, played a cooperative team game (which we lost), and just were. You ever have a day when you just were, and it was the best day ever? This is that day.

Oh, and lunch was good, too.

After my brother and his dog left, I took a long nap on the couch and woke up the sound of my kids laughing hard as they played Minecraft. I just lay there and listened a long time, knowing this is gold right here. Having my kids home, their laughing together, their being best friends, our family. Yep. Gold.

For dinner we didn't do left overs. We are burnt out on turkey and ham, so we did rib roast, which was good, and then my brother took home the leftovers. So for dinner, since my daughter and I aren't counting calories today, my son and I had corn dogs. I thoroughly enjoyed that corn dog. In fact, I think it is the best corn dog I have ever eaten. And while we ate, we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas to kick of the season of receiving The Gift of Christ and giving to others because giving to others in need is a natural outflow of having received Christ.

Now the kids are in their rooms with the doors open, yelling and laughing across the hall to each other. And I am listening, soaking it all in. I am heart-full and stomach happy.

Yep. Best Thanksgiving ever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Why Assembling Is Important

In the past I have annoyed people for questioning the form of "assembling" by organized churches. I have suggested that "assembling together" (Hebrews 10:25) does not have to be at a certain time each week in a particular building so we can be talked at by someone. Others have argued that attending a church service is necessary as a Christian, and to not attend not be a real Christian.

Here are my real issues with the "assembling". My real issues are:
--people "assemble" and consider that to be Christian enough.
--people ignore the rest of Hebrews 10:25 which says to encourage one another. I don't think that sounds like one person talking to a group, ending in prayer, and calling it good church.

Granted, a lot of my dislike for assembling has come from attending the larger churches where the pastor is more of a teacher/administrative hybrid than a "pastor" or shepherd, and from what I can tell in scripture, those two things are separate. Where I grew up, the pastor was a shepherd. I could call him 24/7. He knew everyone in the community, and he served everyone in the community. Most of the pastors I've experienced since then, especially in larger churches, are aloof and separate from the congregation. So, I have developed a distaste for "assembling" because I think it is empty in many cases. NOT ALL, but many.

Having said that, I have to be fair. There are pastors who are PASTORS. Jason Duke at Ranchland Church is a pastor. Jason Danielson at Saddlecreek is a pastor. Marion Burgess is a pastor, and I know there are more out there who are. I just don't know them.

Now that I have explained my issue with "assembling," I need to amend my position on that. Too many people have said they totally agree with me. They don't attend church at all, and they don't miss it. Usually their complaint deals with the hypocrites in the church. I won't touch that here. Yes, I will. If you really cannot in any way tolerate hypocrites and must keep from polluting yourself with their presence, stop reading now and close this post. Refuse to read anymore. Because as much as I wish I were perfect and there were no hypocrisy in me, the fact is I am right on the front row of the 1st Church of "I'm a Christian Hypocrite". So if you need to avoid Christian hypocrites, I understand. Thank you for being here, but I understand you need to leave. Please pray for me. Seriously.

So, why it is important to assemble?
  1.  It gives us a good place to hear God tell us how we are hypocrites. I'm not kidding. Where two or more are gathered in His name, God is with them, and when He is there, He is kind and corrects so we can move in deeper. That means He speaks to our hypocrisies.
  2. In a large assembling, the pastor may have understanding we don't. He may have studied a passage more and prayed about it more than we have, and he may have a perspective we have never considered, but might be exactly what we need to hear. We need to be teachable.
  3. Corporate worship can be amazing. Yes, I know. We left a church we love because the music was too loud, but I've had some amazing God moments in their worship. Corporate worship creates an amazing atmosphere that draws God into our presence.
  4. Discipline is good as a Christian. I know. So many Christians are so busy NOT being works oriented that they forget the basic disciplines of being a Christian, and assembling with others is a discipline.
  5. Small assemblies are where the personal stuff goes on. Yes, a teacher/pastor/minister can encourage from the pulpit, and the Holy Spirit certainly ministers in His way, but there is power in assembling with people who know your life, who encourage you in a personal issue, in your personal walk, and in your personal discipline.
  6. If an assembly is done right, it is a safe place. It is a refuge. It isn't a place where you are always told you are right because, frankly, sometimes you are wrong, but it is a safe place to learn how to be right and a place of encouragement while you change.
  7. Sometimes an assembly is the place where you realize you need to change, either because of something directly said to you by the pastor, Holy Spirit, or a person, or indirectly because you see the change in someone else' life, and you want that in yours.
  8. It's a place of learning.

In my last post, I told you about the different assembling WonderBoy and I did this weekend. We liked it. Relationships are valued there. Connecting with each other is important. The lesson was very personal for me. I thought serving one another the Lord's Supper or Eucharist was beautiful as a symbol of Christ as servant serving us. But it isn't for everyone. Friday morning I assembled with my friend Heather via phone for nearly 5 hours, and this morning I assembled with my friend Marza for about 2 hours. It was good. It was personal. Transparency can take place in that assembling that wouldn't happen in a bigger group. RCIA class was a great assembling. We learned a lot about living out faith, and we connected with people.

Assembling has a mysterious thing that happens in it. The Lord is dissipated through and assembly that focuses on Him and has a heart for Him. If you haven't found an assembling that works for you, keep looking. Be willing to look outside the box, but it is important that you are part of a spiritual family.

Honestly, never occurred to me I would ever attend Catholic church, but I enjoy mass a lot. I like the meditative part of it, and when Father Fred is there, He really CELEBRATES mass. We love that.
Never thought I would attend a Church of Christ, but the teaching was solid. You can certainly get to heaven on that food, and surpringly, I really liked the acapella music. Never thought I would visit a Presbyterian assembling, but we liked it. The Methodist assembly we attended with a friend was so rich and beautiful that we would make that our church if we weren't 2 hours away. I learned about Jesus in a Nazarene assembling, and I gave my life to Jesus in a Baptist assembling. My kids have learned about the Lord in non-denominational assemblings. And phone assembling is a great way to pour in Spirit power into the daily walk.

My point is the writer in Hebrews wasn't saying to assemble because it is a requirement as a Christian. Simply showing up doesn't make you a better Christian, but showing up, listening, and letting the Spirit use what is said to help you see what you might be missing is taking responsible for your spiritual well-being. Assembling isn't a requirement by God. It's an invitation to God.

The only right response is to accept the invitation.

Praying you find a good assembling....

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Something Different

One of the things we really loved about the RCIA class was our group. During lectio divina, which was the meditation on scripture, we all took time to read the scripture--some people read it days earlier and meditated on it all week--and then we discussed how the Spirit was engaging each of us. We enjoyed listening and talking, hearing folks' lives, being part of a group. We all agreed we were going to seriously miss that, and we joked about finding a church that actually did church like that.

Yesterday morning, my friend Heather Brizzi and I spent 5 hours on the phone talking God, sharing hearts, being real. THAT was good church, and I told her that we were once again kind of lost with the whole church thing, and by the way, where did she go to church? She attends Evangelical Presbyterian. I had never heard of it, but I have heard her talk about her church a lot, and she likes it. It feeds her, so I did a google search and found one about 45 minutes from our house.

Not thrilled with the 45 minutes, and I was trying to talk myself out of it this morning, despite having taken a shower and already put on my makeup, when I found myself standing in WonderBoy's room asking, "Do you want to go to church with me?"

He really didn't. He was tired from being up late not feeling well, and he really wanted to sleep in, but he said, "Sure." So we went.

At 10:30 this morning we pulled up to the place our GPS said was our destination and the house. I got back online and googled again. There were multiple addresses and times and a lot of not-really-clear, so I tried to call the number but got a recording. WonderBoy and I were sitting there talking about whether to stay or go because who walks up to a house door and asks if that is the church?, when a car drove up and someone started unloading folding chairs. We decided we were at the right address. So, we stayed.

I've been to house churches before. They are groovy. No problem.

Except this isn't a house church. It is a full-blown church that is meeting at multiple houses right now due to the lease on their building running out and no new door opening yet. The church has split up into groups of 20-25 that meet at different times during the week. This group happens to meet on Sunday morning.

This group also happens to have church sitting around a table, sharing a meal, worshiping with different kinds of music (today was hymns we knew! Yay!), and studying the Bible together. Before the Bible study, they light a candle in recognition of the presence of God. During the Bible study, we all had the freedom to share our thoughts and how it applied to us, and once that Bible study was over, we celebrated Eucharist. In unity, we prayed a prayer for the Lord to turn the elements into the manifestation of Christ and for us to partake of Him in His fullness. Then one person held the bread to the person beside him and said, "This is the body of Christ given for you." The person took the bread and dipped it into the cup of wine while the first person said, "This is the blood of Christ shed for you." We all end in a grace prayer in which we bless each other for the coming week.

Not sure how it will look when there is a building again, but for today, it was really neat, and it looked a lot more like the Acts New Testament church than anything I've experienced, and I definitely got some ideas on how a "community" gathering would look. It was good stuff.

I hope your day at church was good, too. I hope your spirit was fed and the Spirit was free to speak what you need to hear. And I pray as you go into the week, the food you received sustains you to do the will of God and serve Him in the fullness of Christ.


Saturday, November 12, 2016


I've been thinking a lot about stuff going on in the world, specifically in the church. I read on Rod Dreher's blog about a church that has begun to socially punish members for voting for Trump. Church denominations continue to fight for denominational lines. This is not new. I grew up in a Nazarene church that was sure the liberal Baptists were wrong, and the liberal Baptists were just sure the weirdo Church of Christ that refused to use musical instruments had something wrong with them, so surely they were, but that was okay because the Church of Christ was sure everyone else was wrong, and the Methodist? We won't even talk about them. It was petty, really. Actually, what it was was a bunch of people who all wanted control and couldn't figure out how to get along, so they divided into different groups so everyone who wanted to be in control could, but once a month they all came together for a community singing, and it was a good singing, too. They had a few planned songs, but mostly they sang what people asked for, and usually what people asked for is what everyone else had in mind anyway, and you could hear the murmurings. "Yep. That's a good one." "Oh, I like that one." Crazy divided people all liking the same songs and singing them together. But once a month they put the denominational names down and called themselves "Community", and as community, these divided groups found their way to be one choir singing praise to their one King.

Comm-unity. Comm meaning "together" or "alike". Unity meaning "in oneness".

Today I've been thinking a lot about community and how to bring people together in oneness.

I keep thinking of what my wise-beyond-his-years 16-year old son said about our group in the RCIA class.

He said he thought that group was the most like real church was supposed to be that he ever experienced. He said the point of gathering or assembling, what most of us call "church" is to:
-learn the Bible, which we did.
-encourage each other, which we did.
-develop relationship, which we did.
-care about each other, which we did.
-learn how to apply what we learned, which we did.
He looked at me and said, "Mom, when we were in that group, no one was Catholic or Protestant. We were just people learning together and caring about each other."

We were a community.

And I keep thinking of the tower of Babel when God said, "If these people are working together as one, nothing can stop them."

I'm asking two questions:
1. If, working as one, nothing is impossible for us, what could we do and change?
2. How does one build that kind of community?

Friday, November 11, 2016


Last night the kids and I attended our RCIA class for the last time. In short, we simply do not believe enough like Catholics to join their denomination. While we realized there were going to be things we didn't agree with or had to consider beyond our present beliefs, we did not expect the hostility toward Protestants that we experienced there. While it would  be easy for us to point our fingers and say, "Catholics are hateful, rude, judgmental, and elitist," the truth is my friend who is Catholic experienced the exact same attitude and hostility in a Protestant church. I know he did because I witnessed it. Unsurprisingly, he left that church, just like we left the RCIA class. Seems Catholics and Protestants are so different in some ways.

Actually, I found a lot of ways that we are similar.

We all believe it is important to go to church and learn about God.
We all believe in prayer.
We all believe in reading the Bible to learn.
Most of us (some Protestants don't) believe in the Holy Spirit as counselor, one who leads us, one who convicts us, one who works in us to transform us into the image of Christ in how we live.
Most of us believe calling ourselves a Christian isn't about taking a name but rather about living like Christ to the best of our ability.
Most of us who take our faith seriously believe in helping others, even others who aren't just like us.
The Catholics and most Protestants I know believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a trinity, meaning three parts of the Godhead, not one.
They all believe in Christ as the Messiah and without faith in Him, there is no salvation.
The ones who truly commit to Christ as Lord and Savior try to show it in their lives, and I think we all agree if you aren't trying to live Him, then it's most likely you don't have Him.
We all believe in baptism, being buried to our sins and raised to life in Christ.

Yep, we are pretty similar.

Let me tell you how else we are similar. We are all people who: our families....hurt sometimes and need healing.
...get it wrong and need grace.
...want to be loved.
...appreciate kindness.
...need a kind word at times.
...need a shoulder at times.
...need the presence of someone who won't slam us for what we believe or what we've done.
...need another chance. about others.

When I started that class, I asked God why I was there, and clear as a bell, I heard, "You are going to learn to love these people." Truthfully, I didn't know how bigoted I was until then. I didn't realize that I saw a denominational name, not people. Over the last two months, I have quit seeing Catholics. I see a woman whose drive to work has gotten increasingly longer and I feel great compassion for her because the traffic will be horrible. I see a woman who is planning a wedding and has a beautiful romance story. I see a woman who has the coolest life story and three boys she loves even when they are "boys". I see a woman with a beautiful heart, who has healed and gives God great glory for getting her through a hard, hard time. I see people who are really pretty similar to me, and I do love them.

In the Korean war, many men reported crawling into the tunnels and in the darkness, coming upon an enemy soldier eating a meal, smoking a cigarette, taking a break from the war, and the two would stare at each other and either go turn around or squeeze past each other. Instead of killing an enemy, they let a man go by. When asked why, they said, "He was just like me."

Denominational wars demanded that we see enemies in anyone not like us, but that isn't the way of Christ. The way of Christ is to see people "like me." And the only way to do that is to stop finding ways we are difference and start focusing on how we are similar.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Obedient Tree Climbing

Last week I told you about my conversation with God about Zacchaeus and climbing a tree. I admitted at that moment I would not have climbed the tree. This morning John Perron and I have been discussing that statement, and he brought up some really important things that need to be addressed and made clear.

First, when the Lord asked me if I would climb the tree, it was not God Almighty telling me to climb the tree. It was a question between friends. "So, let's say Jesus is coming into town, and if you climb this tree, you might see Him. No guarantees, but you might. Would you climb the tree?"

Long conversation summarized, "No. I don't think I would because here is the thing. You and the kids are all I have. I don't have anyone but you, and right now, we feel a million miles apart, and I don't know why. I have climbed every metaphorical tree I know to climb. I have sincerely tried to find you, and I feel like that isn't happening, so right now at this moment, if I climbed that tree hoping to find you and didn't, I would be crushed."

That is where I was at that moment, and no God wasn't mad. He didn't respond with wrath. Instead, He kept talking, kept asking questions and answering them. Like I told John, He was never harsh. It was more like, "I know this is where you are, but this is not us, and it isn't okay." And it wasn't "not okay" because His ego was hurt or because He is God and who did I think I was mouthing to God? It wasn't okay but that really isn't who we are. We have such intense intimacy, and something had gone wrong, which led to that point. That statement wasn't the problem. That statement was caused by the problem, and that was not okay.

Now, after really great conversation and understanding, we are back to being us, only better.

But John brought up another interpretation of the question and answer that needs to be addressed.

He interpreted it as God saying, "Will you climb the tree if I tell you to?" and I replied, "No. I wouldn't."

Y'all, that is blatant rebellion. That is stepping onto the slippery slope of apostasy. It may not look like a big deal, but any time a person knows the absolute will of God and refuses it, they have just broken faith. They have chosen to turn their hearts to stone (Isaiah), and they have become "stiff-necked", stubborn and unwilling to be led. Until a person repents of that, the relationship with God suffers in huge ways.

Before anyone throws this out, yes, the Bible says nothing can separate us from the love of God. Of course He loves us. He loved us while we were His enemies. John 3:16 says He loved us so much He sent Jesus to die for us so we could choose a relationship with Him and have everlasting life. Please see the obvious here. His love does not save us. Our choice to put our faith in Jesus and serve Him saves us. Our choice to have faith is what allows the relationship in which Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit can lead us. When we choose to ignore God's commands and the Spirit's leading, we damage the relationship. How can He be God to someone who won't serve Him? How can the Spirit lead someone who ignores Him?

When God says to climb a tree, the answer is always, "Yes." Period. How I feel or what I think is utterly irrelevant. The only thing relevant is my relationship with God. The only thing relevant is HE IS GOD.

John said it was put upon him to say to the group last week, "Don't ever tell me you won't climb a tree." I totally agree with that. At one time, I used absolutes, but I have learned absolutes are really pride, arrogance, and the determination to have my way. None of that has any place in a Christian.

Don't misunderstand. I still have my desires and my opinions and the way I want things to go, but I have learned not to say I "won't" or "would never" or any such form. I have on many occasions said, "The only way I would do that is if God said I have to," and sometimes He does, so I do. That is the reality of serving God.

Like I told John this morning, we need to be reminded we are servants, not entitled.

Being a Christian isn't a potluck dinner where we get to pick and choose what we want and what we'll do. We are the bride of Christ. How many people think a husband or wife has the right to all the privileges of being a spouse (shared income, housing, friendship, intimacy, sex) until something else comes along that piques their interest or hormones and if that happens, they can just set aside that "spouse" title to sleep with whomever or dishonor their supposed loved one in conversation with friends or just flat ignore them because they aren't convenient? Where in the marriage vows are we given the right to step in and out of the sacred covenant we make as a spouse because we don't like the responsibility or we want to do something totally selfish that breaks the covenant? That kind of thinking totally offends the typical Christian, or at least it should. So why is the mindset that it is okay to step in and out of covenant with God depending on what is convenient, easy, and serves us so prevalent?

See, when God tells you to climb a tree so you can get close to Him, He is telling you, "I'm your beloved. This is what it takes to deepen our relationship," and as the bride, your answer is always, "That is what I want. Deeper relationship with you."

Frankly, if you can say anything else, you need to have a long talk with Him about your commitment to the relationship, and you need to get some things straightened out because obedience should never be considered optional no matter how high the tree is you have to climb.