Some things, you just don’t have to tell people

I spent over an hour on hold for customer service today and when I finally got to the person I needed, the call was cancelled, whatever that means. So I call back, not knowing how to get back to that department because I had been transferred three times to get to the person I needed. I call back, and have to start over, I am not a happy camper!

However, I have worked in customer service before and been the poor soul who had to deal with frustrated people. I don’t want to be frustrated people, but in this human form—it is unavoidable.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want but I do the very thing I hate.

Romans 7:15

I really wanted to yell at the person I spoke to after an hour, after I had been disconnected and sweet Timothy didn’t bother to call me back, but as I waited on the next customer service representatives to ask me the same questions I’d already answered three times before, I wanted to tell him, “I really am a nice person, but…..” But then I remembered that I always tell my kids there are some things you don’t need to tell people. You don’t need to tell people that you are smart, pretty or nice! Every time you open your mouth, regardless of the words you use, you tell them the truth. You don’t need to talk to someone very long to figure out if they are smart, articulate, nice, funny, or NOT!

I know I can’t stop talking about Jami Amerine’s new book, Well, Girl, but she talks about how there is no but in a real I love you and there is no but in a real I’m sorry. Adding the word but is like using a verbal delete key. When we say I love you, but … it totally negates the I love you, because I love you implies unconditionality. If there is a but then you have to question, do I, really. Like wise if I tell the customer service representative that I am really a nice person before I’m short and irate and rude to him, am I? A nice person? Not in his opinion, not when I become the customer that gripped at him because I was on hold for over an hour, got disconnected and wasn’t given the courtesy of a call back. It wasn’t their fault. It isn’t their fault that I absolutely hate to have to call and straighten out messes on the phone and I’m a wee bit angry and bitter that I lost the husband that would sweetly deal with all the things I didn’t want to. So it begs the question, am I a nice person?

I don’t get to decide that! I can’t wear a shirt or get a bumper sticker that announces who I am. I get countless opportunities to interact with others that allow them to draw the conclusion. Like I’m on trial and trying to convince a jury of my peers that I should be judged as nice, kind, compassionate, whatever. I can’t even pay someone to plead my case for me–its just me!

So disclaimer: that time I was not nice to you, please know my identity was stolen that day and once it is returned to it’s rightful owner, I will do better. Because my identity is in Christ. And as he has forgiven my sins, I have no right to be tacky to others, but I still have sin that needs to be forgiven.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Customer Service Update: I was on hold for another hour, never got to talk to Timothy again, and finally gave up and wrote them a letter. We’ll see if that works or not! Thanks for letting me process my frustration here instead of to the customer service reps on the phone. I still have more calls to make to get my “To do before school starts” list finished, and I feel much better about them now!

The latest: Redemption – I got an email asking me to complete a survey on my customer service experience. I was happy to oblige! Will a real person read it?

Well, Girl Book Launch

I hear so many negative comments about social media and I get it, there is no shortage of negativity there — but I’ve come across some great opportunities as well. Several non-profits have posted Amazon Wish Lists on Facebook and you can just click, buy stuff they need and it’s shipped straight to them. It’s dangerous, but I love it. I’ve signed up to volunteer for several organizations around town to do some cool things like pick up donated bread from HEB for a local food bank. I can’t do a lot of things, but I can pick up bread! This summer I saw a link from a blogger I follow that said, “Sign up for my book launch team.” I never heard of a book launch team, but hey, it’s summer — I’m in!

So I join the book launch team for Jami Amerine’s new book, Well, Girl, An Inside-Out Journey to Wellness. I have to admit that I really didn’t look at the book title before I joined the team. I’ve enjoyed Jami’s wit and insight on her blog, LOVE the vandals, her affectionate term for her youngest kids and just finished her first book Stolen Jesus which I also loved. How could this go wrong? Then I get my info email about the team, then I read the full title of the book and think, “UGH, I don’t want to read about wellness or a journey, I done ready know I gotta fix the inside to impact the outside, but I signed up, I really got nothing better to do”, so I press forward.

What exactly is a launch team? It’s a group of people that agree to read your book before it is available to the public, help promote the author and their book on social media and be the first to post online reviews of the book. It’s been interesting to see how the whole process works and I’ve learned the most about how Facebook algorithms work and how people use them to promote their business. That’s one of the reasons I’m better about liking, commenting and sharing business posts from people I know — they need us! Plus I got to have a zoom meeting with the author and that was super cool!!!

The big thing though, is the book. I mentioned I signed up for this team without really knowing the title. I read the Well, Girl part but not the An Inside-Out Journey to Wellness Part. I was less than enthusiastic about that! But I committed to read it so I did. I was not disappointed.

Although I did not want to read another ‘this is how to make your life better by exercising and eating right’ self-help book, it turned out to be so much more. Jami encourages you to live your life for Christ, period. It’s not about the diet, the regiment, success or failure, it’s about living every aspect of your life for Christ and allowing Him to make you whole. Whatever you need to work on physically – you can do it – thanks to Beloved Living. As a dieter, you finally come to the conclusion that any diet will work once you set your mind to it and actually do it. In Well, Girl she examines our self-talk, self-doubt and inability to live as one treasured by our Creator that just left me so encouraged and built up.

All is not lost. There is no harm, no foul. He sees us, and He is pleased with us. You and I are His babies, His darling daughters, and nothing can separate us from His love. Nope, nothing, not even that. It is easy to mistake Him, for under the heavy hand of the law and the earthly understanding of “do good get good, do bad get bad,” we are often left with a broken heart. For if we are good, why is there bad? This is performance-based love that we often project onto God because it’s everywhere else in the world…and this keeps us trapped in old cycles because we’re sure we’re not doing enough right.”

Amerine p. 59

I loved the part in the book where she says, “I believe that the enemy uses shame to keep us stuck.” She bases this on the definition by Cary Scott that, “Guilt is being sorry for something you have done. Shame is being sorry for who you are” (Amerine p. 48). There is no shame in where you are, just be willing to improve and leave the guilt of bad decisions behind.

I still think I like Stolen Jesus a little better, but Well, Girl is well worth the read!

Get your copy here:

Follow Jami at

or on Facebook:

On Grief and Friendships

Someone posed the question at GriefShare: Do you think grief re-writes your address book?

I love the trees when their leaves are gone. They point to the beauty around them, birds nests, sunrises, sunsets, blue skies and gray skies. They also reveal damage from parasites and damaged limbs that need to be removed. Photo credit: Me 3/1/2018 7:34 a.m. headed out on a morning walk.

We used to sing this song in Girl Scouts, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” Grief changes you, it changes your relationships. We tend to view friendships as either forever or failures but God places people in our lives for a season and seasons change. Old and new are both treasures!

I used to think that friendship was give and take. That the people I’ve been there for would be the people that were there for me, but that’s not always the case. God is dynamic and so are our relationships.

I think He places people in our lives for a purpose. We remember those who have been there for us in the past fondly but there is no obligation, you don’t owe them, they don’t owe you. As a follower of Christ you realize that we are obedient to Christ’s calling in our lives. When he shows a need, a place we can serve others, our obligation is to honor Him by serving others. Friendships based on debt don’t work. I can like you, I can think fondly of you, but I can’t keep score of kindness offered and treat it as a debt to be paid nor expect any kindness I’ve extended to be repaid. I can only grow from it and pay it forward. Kindness makes both the giver and receiver better.

Sadly no caption needed! Gardening and photo credit … me.

I think He places people in our lives for a season. When a deep freeze hits in the winter some plants do not survive, some are permanently damaged, some bounce back. Plants require different kinds of care in different seasons and we’re like that too. Sometimes we need more water than others, sometimes we need fertilizer, sometimes we need constant attention to rescue us from the brink of death, sometimes we don’t survive and sometimes we thrive. But none of the seasons are forever. They may seem like forever when you’re in them, they may last longer than we want, but they always change.

The rings in a tree tell us about the climate and atmosphere throughout the trees life, no year is the same. Photo credit: stolen from the internet

I remember growing up my dad used to burn the lawn in the early spring. It was fun getting to catch the grass on fire and keep it in check with the water hose but it left our yard black and dead looking and horrible. But then it came back so beautiful with all the bad stuff burned away. I still look at pampas grass and think, “That would look so much better if it were burned in the spring.” The pain in our lives also breeds new life, sometimes we have to be burnt to be beautiful.

to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

I think we get into trouble when we expect things from a relationship that only God can provide. It’s in our relationship with God that we can survive and thrive with ourselves. Time alone with God fills a need only God can fill. When we expect that unconditional love, acceptance and grace from humans, we will be disappointed. Everything outside of God is temporary. You can survive the loss of a spouse, a child, a friend, a parent, a grandparent because God never abandons you. You can ignore him but that doesn’t impact His existence. We tend to look at other’s loss and think, “I don’t know how you could survive that loss.” The truth is neither does the survivor. You survive by putting one foot in front of the other and every day choosing to move forward.

I think that is living in light of eternity. When we live knowing that the only constant relationship is with our creator we can put our other relationships into perspective. We can see our spouse, children, siblings, parents and friends as the gifts from God that they are. Treasures for the time we have them. Time isn’t the only measure of the depth of a relationship. A spouse lost after a few years or 62 years is still a huge loss. A child lost at a couple of minutes or 70 years is still devastating. Depth isn’t quantified just by time.

I heard one time, I wish I could remember where, that we have 30 seconds to respond to a prompting from the Holy Spirit. If you don’t act on it within 30 seconds you’ll either forget or talk yourself out of it. I don’t know if the 30 seconds is accurate but I know that when you have that idea, action is required – act now! It could mean the world to someone else, it could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship, it could be kindness from a stranger that makes their day better and it will definitely leave you better! Let God be the author of your address book.

The ‘R’ word…

I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the topic of racism since the latest barrage of protests regarding the death of George Floyd. My biggest take away is that I use words I don’t really know what they mean! It’s a VERY complicated subject and we have a tendency to want to fix it on Twitter in 120 characters or less which only serves to piss someone off!

If you think you disagree with these books or my decision to read them, or this is just too many words for you, then please by all means don’t throw the baby out with the bath water … skip down to … My Journey Thus Far.

What I gleaned from Woke Church by Eric Mason:

I love that he laments. There is truly much to lament in our society today, for sure!

I’ve learned that we can do better than thinking that we live in a post-racist society taunting that I don’t have a problem, I’m colorblind! Mr. Mason presents eight problems with “color-blindness”

  1. It denies God’s promise to Abraham that “in you all the nations shall be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8 NKJV)
  2. It denies the Father’s promise to the Son that “I will make you a light for the nations” (Isaiah 49:6)
  3. It denies the Spirit’s promise to us that all peoples will praise God. (see Psalm 67:5)
  4. It denies Christ’s great commission to disciple the nations.
  5. It denies the Spirit’s work to prepare us for a multiethnic table. (Acts 10)
  6. It denies one of the main tenets of the Apostles’ Creed, “the holy catholic Church.” Catholicity means the opposite of colorblindness–celebrating the inclusion of all ethnicites.
  7. It denies Christ’s power to heal racial divisions, disparities and injustices by ignoring their ongoing impact
  8. And it undermines unity in the church by refusing to acknowledge ethnic differences and significant problems.

I was also convicted by Lament #7: That the Church Didn’t Create and Lead the Black Lives Matter Movement. (Mason pg 107)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Attributed to Edmund Burke

Now in 2020 we’re all upset that this is an organization that is violent and corrupt and it’s anti-christian to use the hashtag. But what do you expect? One of Russell’s favorite sayings was “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Which is a smart people, sciency way of saying, if you don’t step up someone else will! And this is certainly true of the Black Lives Matter movement. Too many good men sat quietly saying, “Yes you do matter” then promptly went about their own lives!

I’m frustrated that Christians have been so critical of this book because Eric Mason boldly proclaims – more than once that Jesus is the answer. His own definition is, “Being woke is to be aware. Being woke is to acknowledge the truth. Being woke is to be accountable. Being woke is to be active.” (Mason pg 32) I want to be aware, acknowledge the truth, be accountable and active! He’s right – the church should already be woke!

You have to be intrinsically changed by God in order for justice to be done. …But at the end of the day legislation doesn’t change hearts…only the gospel does.

Mason Pg 50-51

My take from White Fragility Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by: Robin Diangelo:

I was hooked in the introduction with the Beyonce Knowles quote:

“It’s been said that racism is so American that when we protest racism, some assume we’re protesting America.”

Beyonce Knowles, quote in White Fragility page xi

I’m three pages in, just in the foreword and already convicted that I’ve only been looking at one side of the story. I never stopped to listen to or think about Colin Kaepernick’s point of view when he knelt during the National anthem. I jumped on the “I stand for the flag and kneel at the cross” bandwagon. I honestly thought “those people need to find a better way to address what they perceive as a problem”. I have great respect for those who serve in the military, law enforcement, really anyone whose life work is for the benefit of mankind. I have been unwilling to talk about racism because I bought into the post-racist ideal that we just need to stop talking about it. I have bowed my head, closed my eyes and in the name of God, left no room for any other point of view.

Diangelo’s chapter on the good/bad binary really spoke to me about how we justify racism by screaming that I’m not racist, because I’m not a bad person. If I say or do something racist it doesn’t really count because I’m not a bad person. Two qoutes from this chapter really struck a nerve with me:

While making racism bad seems like a positive change, we have to look at how this functions in practice. Within this paradigm, to suggest that I am racist is to deliver a deep moral blow, I must defend my character, and that is where all my energy will go–to deflecting the charge, rather than reflecting on my behavior.

Diangelo, pg 72

If, as a white person, I conceptualize racism as a binary and I place myself on the “not racist” side, what further action is required of me? No action is required, because I am not racist. Therefore, racism is not by problem; it doesn’t concern me and there is nothing further I need to do. This worldview guarantees that I will not build my skills in thinking critically about racism or use my position to challenge racial inequality.

Diangelo, pg 73

This point was huge for me. I could totally relate to this binary. I have said and heard racist comments deduced and written off because the person isn’t a bad person, you don’t know their heart. News flash: Generations of good people have been raised in a racist structure. My parents weren’t bad people, they just taught me what they had been taught and honestly anyone else raised in America. I was not raised to hate, but their was no denying that being white is better. It’s not about good people or bad people–it’s about doing better and to do better you have to see there is room for improvement!

Diangleo also addresses the issue of color blindness stating that, “color blindness may have started out as a well-intentioned strategy for interrupting racism, in practice it has served to deny the reality of racism and thus hold it in place.” (Diangelo pg 42) This brings to my mind the comment Stephen King made regarding the lack of diversity in the 2019 Academy Awards, where he said, “I would never considered diversity in matters of art. Only quality.” ( A comment I fully agreed with until I considered the fact that he also never realized that the pieces of work he was considering did not include any diversity. His color blindness did not allow him to see that the Academy had failed to give films by directors and screenwriters that were not white male a chance to even be considered. He had the opinion, “I’m not racist, so racism must not exist.” Diangelo concludes that to be color blind is to deny diversity.

This book reflects so many things that I have lived. Chapter 11, White Women’s Tears really made me stop and think about how I could be a influencer for change, it’s easy to cry, I can do that during a sappy commercial — but am I really willing to stand up and say enough is enough, to be better, to do better, to demand better.

Take-away from How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi:

We don’t understand the words we are using as weapons! This biggest thing Kendi did for me in this book was define terms. Again, I was hooked on this book in the introduction when he states, “Racist is not … a pejorative. It is not the worst word in the English language; it is not the equivalent of a slur. It is descriptive, and the only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it–and then dismantle it. The attempt to turn this usefully descriptive term into an almost unusable slur is, of course, designed to do the opposite: to freeze us into inaction.” (Kendi pg 9) Critics of the book say that being ‘not racist’ is enough, I don’t have to be anti-racist. I contend that instead of standing up against racist behavior, policies and even education we’re too often burying our head in the sand with the belief that I am not impacted by racism, therefore it does not exist and we need to quit talking about it so it can go away.

We have got to quit arguing over the words.

We have to quit minimizing peoples experiences.

IF ANYONE is still impacted by racism today we must face it. And there is plenty of evidence that there are many anyones! I will even go as far as to say if you don’t know anyone impacted by racism, then you’re living in such a privileged bubble that even people you know cannot share there fears, pains and trials. Zig Ziglar once said that the appearance of impropriety is impropriety, although I can’t find that quote on the web, he used that as a mantra to never be seen alone with a woman who was not his wife. We need to say the same thing about racism today – the perception of racism is racism therefore I can scream I am not racist all day long, but if I support a system that is perceived as racist — I must act. You can’t add a ‘but’ and make it okay.

I learned that colorblindness, white privilege, critical race theory … are sociological constructs that examine how we view our world. They are not a threat, an accusation nor judgement, they are social concepts that just are. You can use any word as a weapon.

We cannot deny that

Black people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population. And yet, in 2015, Black bodies accounted for at least 26 percent of those killed by police, declining slightly to 24 percent in 2016, 22 percent in 2017, and 21 percent in 2018, according to The Washington Post. Unarmed Black bodies–which apparently look armed to fearful officers–are about twice as likely to be killed as unarmed White bodies.

Kendi pg 73

Wasn’t Jesus all about the least of these? the underdog? I think Kendi wrote this book for people just like me. People who want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. To get people to stand up and take a side. I could quote for days from this book – just read it!!!

My journey thus far:

I have been so enlightened by reading the perspectives of these authors who see the world differently than how I was raised both familially and culturally. I also want to add that while I read these books I continued to study, read and meditate in and on the Bible. These books strengthened my faith and resolve to life my life to be more Christ-like. Still, I am so disappointed by the Christian community that has spent more time arguing over semantics than being compassionate, understanding and willing to see another’s point of view. I am so discouraged by looking at Facebook posts that are steeped with self-righteousness, piety and condemnation. I am heartbroken that the biggest obstacle to Christ can be those of us who claim, so boldly, to be his followers. I have to ask myself:

Do others know what I am for? Or do they only know what I am against and how I fall on the political spectrum?

I have to ask myself EVERYDAY, will others see Christ in me. Some days, sadly, the answer is no. My love language is sarcasm. My quick wit and sharp tongue often leave me with regret and a path of unintentional hurt. I do love Jesus, but I cuss a little, okay sometimes a lot. My children say I have no filter. I have absolutely no right to condemn another BUT if good white people continue to do nothing , to see nothing, all our critics are right! I encourage you to READ, to LEARN, to LISTEN to be more concerned about having relationships than being right, because it is only through relationship that we can share our point of view and impact another’s perspective. I will never lead someone to the gospel that I don’t first value, respect and listen to because I’ll never have a chance to be heard.

I have a son in law enforcement, he’s always wanted to be in law enforcement. I can not be anti-law enforcement nor minimize what they face each day, but I can’t deny this is an issue that we can’t bury our heads in the sand about. I recently spoke to Bishop McBride who talked about what it is like to be a black man pulled over by a police officer. Most of what he told me I was aware of, but what shocked me was the comment he made: “…and it doesn’t matter what color the officer is.” The most dangerous thing an officer does is a traffic stop, I am just as big a threat to an officer as the next guy statistically but yet we’re treated differently because of race. That my friend is systemic racism. In Temple Texas. Today. It’s not an individual issue its deep in the fabric of who we are and it won’t improve if denied.

These pictures represent to me how we have whitewashed our history. Why are we not as comfortable with black Jesus and black Santa as we are the white ones? Photo credit: Jesus: The Last Supper by Sarah Jenkins, Original painting inside the permanent collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA. Santa photos stolen from Hayti Heritage Center, St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation and Raising Race Conscious Children.

I loved the series “A Handmaid’s Tale” because it is a wonderful examination of how wrong right can go. The creators of the society were great fundamental Christians who wanted to create a Utopian society based on good — but fundamentally it was so wrong. Any of us given free rein would do the same! It’s human nature and it’s ugly and we need a Savior!

I am a product of white privilege, segregation, prejudice and racism. I can not deny that, I don’t have to apologize for it, but I do have a responsibility to continue to learn, to grow and to do better.

I am a work in progress. I want to do better!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but

to do justice,

and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8 ESV

I just noticed that verse ends with a question mark, it demands a response!!

Hell can be a beautiful place!

We lived in Utah from December 1997 – August 2000.  We had lived in New Mexico for ten years and were planning to follow our jobs to Phoenix when Russell got an offer he couldn’t refuse in Salt Lake City.  Being young and adventurous we jumped in.  I literally would have followed that man ANYWHERE, but never entertained the idea that moving to a state I’d never even visited and 1000 miles from our family might cause a few problems.

Salt Lake City is beautiful!  They have four seasons, just like in those books we read in elementary school, the views from the valley are spectacular, the mountains, the weather is so nice!  Even when it snows, the entire place isn’t paralyzed like we are with a little ice in Texas.  The tulips come up through the snow in the spring and Christmas lights covered in snow are so spectacular.

The culture, however, was very different from anything we’d experienced.  We moved there from Albuquerque, a cultural melting pot that is SO diverse and by contrast Salt Lake seemed very white and very Mormon.  While we were white, we definitely were not Mormon and that was a little problematic.  I’m not bashing Mormons here, just pointing out that their culture was very different from what we knew.  In New Mexico we met so many people that had visited and decided they just had to live there.  Many people like us, had no family nearby. We found people to be open and friendly.  In Utah, however, it seemed like we were the only people that weren’t “from there” and were the only people there with no extended family.  (I’m sure that’s not literally true, but it was my perception.)  We both had GREAT jobs, we had a beautiful home with gorgeous views of the mountains and a relationship under s t r e s s.  Russell’s job was so consuming that most days he left before Ryan and I got up and came home after we’d gone to bed.  Ryan could go days without seeing his dad and was usually the first kid dropped off at daycare and the last picked up.  Some days I’d pick Ryan up from daycare and take him to play at McDonald’s while I finished the work I still needed to do —

then, somehow I got pregnant! 

Then Paxton came along with the mantra, “HA – you think you can have it all!”  His minor health issues pushed our already strained lifestyle right over the edge.  I remember sitting looking at the snow capped mountains, tired, frustrated, exhausted, overwhelmed and tired (yes I said that twice on purpose) — thinking

Hell can sure be a beautiful place.

 You remember Russell’s work schedule, well we added to that an infant that DID NOT SLEEP.  I don’t mean didn’t sleep through the night, I mean, DID NOT SLEEP.  He had reflux so badly that he screamed bloody murder EVERY TIME you laid him down and had pneumonia constantly and low oxygen levels continually as a result. It is truly a good thing he was cute because life with him was H A R D.

It took me a long time to surrender to the idea of motherhood.  I never really thought I’d be a good mother, I thought I was way too selfish (and I was not wrong!).  It wasn’t until a spiritual journey that Russell and I took through the Walk to Emmaus that God really started to change my heart, but even then, I was willing to surrender only because I knew Russell would be such a great dad — I thought just like the rest of our lives he’d drag me along.  Pregnancy wasn’t automatic for us, it took quite a few months of trying which really tested my faith because I really felt that God was calling us to parenthood and yet it eluded us.  I made an appointment with a fertility specialist and at my first appointment, I was pregnant.  Ryan was a dream infant, he took right to breastfeeding, he was happy as could be, he loved daycare, he traveled well, he hardly interrupted our lifestyle at all.  I really believed women can have it all, career, family, social life — the skies the limit.

Then we moved and lost all our support system.

Then we had a real baby.

I’d like to say we moved back to Texas and lived happily ever after, but that would not be whole truth.  Difficult times don’t just disappear, they slowly fade. We decided that our family needed a full-time wife and mother and evidently that was me!  In theory it sounded like a great idea.  My employer in Utah had been MORE than gracious with all Paxton’s health issues, they allowed me to work from home three days a week and really could not have been more accommodating.  I knew it would be next to impossible to find a new job bringing  that baggage along. Our pediatrician in Utah had threatened to drop us from her practice if I didn’t get Paxton out of daycare, how could I put him back?  So I reluctantly decided to surrender myself completely to this job of wife and mother and it was a T O U G H transition.  But once I realized how much better off all three of the boys were with my undivided attention soon we all began to thrive.

The key here was my surrender.  I had to let go of that vision of what I thought my life would be to the life God had chosen for me.  In that I grew to realize that Hell is largely of my own making.  If I surrender to God’s plan for my life, Hell is a distant threat.

Looking back I realize I’ve had to surrender my vision of my life many times to follow Christ, I’m starting to maybe think, I might not be in control.

Fast forward, I have a dear friend who had the perfect life.  She was a beautiful, charming, Godly woman who had a wealthy husband, four wonderful children, a gorgeous home — then he decides he can have it all and starts travelling and cheating and their fairy tale life becomes unraveled.  It was ugly.  Five people were hurled into unbelievable grief while one seemed oblivious. I know I have no real grasp on the depth of her pain. She asked us to look after the house (I called it the mansion, much to her dismay) while she was gone and as we sat by the pool, I had that same thought, “Hell can sure be a beautiful place” as this beautiful home had become her living Hell.

Contrasted to the missionary that spoke about living among families in an actual landfill that were filled with exuberant joy over the smallest things.

How can a mansion be like hell and a landfill be paradise?

I don’t really understand what Hell is, honestly, I don’t.  I’ve studied it in the Bible, I’ve heard lots of people’s thoughts on Hell, I’ve heard lots of sermons on Hell, I even know one very wise Christian who doesn’t really believe it exists, but what I do know for sure is that it is Christ-less.  Our Hell on earth comes not from the actual absence of Christ but our inability to see his redemptive plan at that moment.  Our personal Hell can be a beautiful place physically, but true beauty rests in the redemptive power of a loving savior — no matter what the circumstance, or what your surroundings look like. 

My friend and I shared the same place in our history. A time when our dreams seemed lost, hope seemed illusive and our vision was clouded by circumstances. We lacked the ability to see, at that moment, but not forever. You’ve been there too.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good , for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

It’s easy to see Paul’s truth in Romans when our life seems to be in our control but true hope comes from seeing it even in the midst of life’s storms. Living a surrendered life that is not of our own making, that holds treasures only God could imagine, we can trust in the hope of a future and of good despite what this moment may look like.

Hold on! It really does get better.