Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Albert Einstein once said this, "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." I love this. It is inspiring, but how far does it really go? Does it include seeing ourselves as miracles?

I had two people who know some of the deepest, darkest parts of me say these things to me a few weeks ago, within 24 hours of one another: "It is miraculous that you are sitting here..." And, "You are a walking miracle..."

Children who are born after years of infertility hear words like these, or those who have survived some near death experience, especially as a young child. Babies who are born extremely premature are often referred to as "miracles." We often think of miracles in this way, as the happy ending of some extreme medical difficulty, but there are many types of miracles, not all defy the scientific odds.

It is still odd and uncomfortable to hear the term applied to me. When I look at my life I don't see "miracle." I see messy! I see someone who has been abused. I see a life that has suffered losses so deeply that fear of losing anything else is paralyzing. I see someone who has never felt good enough to do anything worthwhile. I see someone who doesn't feel pretty or lovable. I only see someone who is wounded and dirty.

And yet, I know that I am a miracle. Many who have been through what I have been through find themselves dropping out of school, struggling with addictions, abusing others, continuing to be abused, or being reckless and promiscuous with themselves and their bodies. I know. I watched it happen to many people in my life. It was part of what motivated me to be different. I have even wondered if my miracle came at their expense. Of course there was divine intervention as well. God placed many people in the right places at the right times to make the kind of impact that led to the "miraculous" in my life. There were those who encouraged me, challenged me, and demonstrated God's love to me. Ultimately, though it was God's presence and power that produce the miracle that is me.

The fact is, no matter how battered and damaged we may feel, no matter how many mistakes we have made, or how much trauma we have endured, we are still dearly loved by God. There is nowhere we can flee from His presence, not even the depths of Hell, literal or figurative, of our own making, or brought on through no fault of our own, is beyond the reach of God's hand.

We are all miracles, fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image.

A friend of mine, Giles Blankenship, wrote a song titled Image of God that speaks to me. The first time I heard the bridge it brought tears to my eyes. Speaking of Jesus the song says, "He says it long and it loud and you can hear Him crying out, 'This one's mine; yes that's my child; I'd do anything...Oh I'd even give my life...to fix every broken piece inside..."

The question is not whether God can make your life a miracle, or even whether He wants to. The question is, what are you going to do with your life when He does? He comforts us so we can comfort others. He heals us so others can have hope when they see our scars. He encourages us so we can build up another. He reaches out and picks up the broken pieces of our lives and then expects us to go, and do likewise.

I'll admit it, it isn't easy. The prospect of helping someone else when I feel incapable and unworthy is scary. Sometimes the voice in my head that I hear loudest says, "Who are you to reach out to someone? You aren't good enough."I have to find ways to hear another voice, the voice that says, "You were bought with a price and you are Mine! Created in my image, precious child, live out the miracle that I have done in you."

Sunday, July 7, 2013


According to my Facebook newsfeed at least, today is Chocolate Day! I don't know about you all, but I LOVE chocolate! While milk chocolate and white chocolate (yes I know white chocolate is not really chocolate) have always been my favorites, as I have matured over the years I have grown a deep love and appreciation for the much richer (and arguably healthier) dark chocolate. I have a weakness for the candy isle and especially for chocolate pies and cookies as I walk through the grocery store, and it is indeed rare if something of the chocolate variety doesn't find its way into my cart. My chocolate addiction comes at a cost, however, and I have come to learn that it is much bigger than just the cost of my waistline.

In America, we often see a product on the shelves and do not think about what goes into it. That is what happens in a consumer driven society. We are blinded by large companies creative and tantalizing advertising campaigns with their catchy slogans and eye catching packaging. What we don't see are the deplorable practices behind the products.

You see, most of the world's cocoa is produced in some of the poorest countries in the world. Companies seek out the cheapest price and so large farmers compete to underbid one another. Unfortunately, the only way they can do that is to use slave and child labor to work their fields, while large corporations turn a blind eye. It is a sad, but true fact that every time you and I grab a candy bar at the checkout counter we are supporting these outrageous practices in poor countries in Africa and other parts of the world.

Fortunately, there are alternatives. The Baptist Fair Trade project, among other faith groups dedicated to improving the lives of farmers and their families seek to make a difference. Through partnering with Equal Exchange groups can promote products that are not only good quality, but also help small farmers by paying a fair price for the products produced, illuminating the need for slave and child labor. These groups also lead in educating consumers on fair trade products.

We just celebrated the Forth of July here in the US, so for many the words, "Liberty and Justice for ALL," are fresh in our minds. Think about who "all" should include. Does that justice apply only to the privileged who live in this country? The biblical understanding of the word justice is about doing what is right by other people. It is about caring for the orphan and the widow and the underprivileged and outcasts of society. Making just choices should include making the choice to end slavery, child labor, and oppression. For us, that may mean indulging in a little more chocolate today. Here is a link to get you started!


Friday, July 5, 2013


Growing up, the Fourth of July was one of my favorite holidays. I loved the BBQ, the pool time, but most of all I looked forward to going to the lake front and staking out a spot in the grass with a few snacks, maybe some playing cards while we waited until dark, and then...BOOM! Some years the show was spectacular as it lit up the sky, reflecting on the water, other years it was a dud, but none the less I always looked forward with great anticipation to the show.

I admit it, as an adult I am a bit of a fireworks snob. The best fireworks shows I have ever seen of course were Disney productions. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a bit of a Disney fanatic and, growing up in Central Florida, Disney often sponsored shows in either Orlando or my hometown of Sanford. The shows were perfectly choreographed to a musical score broadcast on a local radio station. Everyone brought their portable radios to tune in. It is pure magic when what we see and hear match perfectly. Unfortunately, life does not always reflect Disney Magic.

There are moments when life seems perfect, only to be interrupted by tragedy. What we see around us hasn't changed, but we hear on the news of bombings, or children being killed or wildfires destroying homes and taking lives along with it. The peaceful neighborhood we live in has been invaded by news hundreds if not thousands of miles away and we begin to live in fear that it COULD happen here. We go overboard with precautions and we panic about every possibility of tragedy.

Brene Brown talks about this in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. She recounts the story that many of us have lived out as parents watching their sleeping children, on the edge of embracing the joy when suddenly the fear of losing it all grips us. In reflecting on that experience she says this, "Until we can tolerate vulnerability and transform it in to gratitude, intense feelings of love will often bring up the fear of loss."

The fact is yes, these things could happen anywhere, but Jesus warns us against panicking over that. "Do not worry for tomorrow," He tells us in Matthew 6:34. Enjoy today, take pleasure in the blessings right before your eyes instead of allowing the soundtrack of potential tragedy take away from the beauty that is right in front of you. Be thankful. Let gratitude, thankfulness, and joy be the soundtrack for today, instead of the trauma that might happen tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself.