Why Black Friday Always Makes Me Think of Peace


One of my favorite days of the year is coming up this week. The day after Thanksgiving.

It’s not because I can go shopping and get great deals. (Lord knows I don’t particularly like shopping, just ask my good friend, Michelle.)  No, I like the day after Thanksgiving because it’s the anniversary of the day I sat, exhausted on my couch and tearfully uttered these words: “I give up, Lord.” In that moment, my life changed forever.


As I sit here this morning thinking about the peace that poured down over me immediately following that moment, I am filled again with gratitude. Months earlier, the Lord had challenged me to commit to trusting Him wholeheartedly in my struggle with alcohol.  What would trusting Him with all my heart involve?

  • It would mean believing He was indeed bigger than the battle in front of me and inside me.
  • It would mean I would no longer hide because healing is only found out in the Light.
  • It would mean running back to Him no matter how many times I failed…running back, falling down again and again at the foot of the cross and saying…”You, Lord, are my only hope. Change my heart!”

That Peace

I honestly believe, that morning, He poured out enough of His peace to last me an entire life time. Now, please don’t think I’m saying that I no longer have seasons of unrest or struggles or pain. I certainly do. But there was something about that peace. It hit me by the bucketful that morning. And my heart was forever changed.

And since then, there’s this part of me that can’t shut up about all of it.

It’s as if living water rained down on me that morning and that water contained some sort of Truth serum.

Tell the world what I can do, Eileen. Tell them how I came to set the captive free. Tell them how I came to give joy and life to the fullest. Tell them. Over and over and over.

Dear Lord, thank you for being true to your word. Thank you for 14 years of freedom.

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 HCSB

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.”   John 7:37 Message

When a Small Fish Learns a Big Lesson


For several years I’ve picked a One Word to focus on in January. For 2015, my word was small.

Last January, I wrote these words.

I need the small because I need the lessons.
This year, I want to look for and embrace the small. I want to look for the gifts tucked away in the moments, those small gifts we often overlook because our eyes are forever wandering off the path looking for something bigger.
Maybe all the little roads are in fact the big roads. Major highways in disguise.
You can read the entire post HERE.

And, in my mid-year reflection, I shared with you two small, beautiful updates.
You can read the mid-year reflection HERE


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”    Margaret Mead

This quote has been popping into my brain quite often over the last couple of months. And, when it does, my first thought is always the disciples. I think about how, as far we know, none of these men had any training on how to mobilize  large groups of people.  Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fisherman…so, they might have been known for mobilizing large schools of fish, but not people. Matthew was a tax collector. And back in Jesus’ day the Pharisees lumped tax collectors in the same category as sinners. Respectable people did not follow them and they certainly didn’t sit at a table and eat a meal with them. (Matthew 9: 9-13)

No, Jesus didn’t call these folks because of their ability to influence others, He called them because he caught a glimpse of their heart. In God’s upside down, crazy world, a man’s heart is much more important than a resume.  I also believe that God has an incredible track record of taking small mustard seeds and growing beautiful gardens. He specializes in using folks that the rest of the world is quick to label unusable or unskillful.


For the last month I’ve been partnering with a lady from Trades of Hope and trying to meet the crowdsourcing threshold in order to bring the movie Poverty Inc to a theater in Chattanooga on Dec 1.  It’s a fantastic, thought-provoking movie on the poverty industry. It challenges us to look at the ways we help. It challenges us to look for (possibly) more productive approaches in helping.

The deadline to meet the threshold of tickets is Nov 24.  Whether I meet this threshold or not, I am learning some valuable small/big lessons from this experience.

  • Getting an idea and a passion to spread if you are a small fish in a big pond is much harder than I thought it would be.  Much harder.
  • I can’t assume an idea that fires me up will necessarily fire those around me up too. (Even though I’m fairly certain people would be fired up once they saw the movie. :) )
  • And the most important lesson this recovering perfectionist must learn again and again:  I am not a failure if I don’t succeed at meeting the threshold. For years, I feared stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I feared taking a risk. For years, I allowed fear to dictate my movements.  For years, I was guilty of staying in the boat when Jesus was asking me to walk on the water.

Truth I know today:  I  fail only when I stay in my comfort zone during times when God has clearly asked me to move.  

Question:  Is God asking you to leave your boat, in some area of your life, even if there’s a risk of sinking?

The Biggest Lie I Ever Believed



There are few things in life that will bring me to tears quicker than hearing stories of people feeling trapped or stuck.  No way out stories remind me of hopelessness and the ache of hopelessness always makes me cry.

The other day as I thought more about why I feel such strong emotions towards this topic, a few possible explanations came to mind.

No way out was a lie the Enemy once used to keep me from seeing and embracing Truth. Here are a few no way out lies I’ve been shackled to in the past:

  • “I’ve gone too far in the wrong direction.”
  • “It’s too late to start over.”
  •  “It’s too late to make a different choice.”
  •  “I made my bed now I have to lie in it.”
  •  “I’ll ignore the pain and it will go away.”
  • “I’ll hide behind my mask because it’s safe there.”

Those of us who have ever found ourselves living our lives trapped in a no way out cycle begin to define ourselves and our circumstances with victim mentality thoughts such as the ones I used above.

We “settle” for the way things are and believe there is no choice we can make or action we can take to change things or make things better.

No way out is a lie and the power of choice is a weapon we use to slay the lie.

Here’s a quote that kicked me in the pants years ago:

“If you think you have no choice but to do what you do now, you’ve already made a serious error.”  Seth Godin

Here’s the truth I know today:

  • God is bigger…bigger than every addiction, every crisis, every pain, every relationship….He is bigger and stronger than whatever giant we must face today. And the choice becomes this: will we choose to grab hold of this Truth with both hands and believe it?  No more excuses–just hands willing and hearts committed to grabbing on and not letting go.
  • It is never too late to begin again, to stop, or to turn around.
  • Nothing you have done or will do can ever make God love you any less.
  • God specializes in resurrecting dead and broken things.

If the voice of the Enemy is loud in your life today, I encourage you to counterattack with the voice of Truth.

Sharing this oldie today, it’s encouraged me when I’ve been tempted to listen to the wrong voice.

Sometimes A Heart Can Break and Rejoice All at the Same Time

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Yesterday was an exceptionally good day. I went to bed last night and my heart was full of joy. I was thankful for the heavenly breadcrumbs I spotted throughout the day. These breadcrumbs are manna for my soul…beautiful confirmations that He is faithful to His promise.

I AM goes before me.
I AM walks beside me.
I AM will be my joy.
I AM will be my strength.

One of my jobs at the church I work at is to oversee and help to improve our host teams. We have been focusing on the importance of reminding people of having a mindset of a host rather than a guest. Hosts are welcoming and find ways to treat others like VIPs. Hosts are quick to serve and accommodate. Hosts are always looking for ways to make the guests feel included, accepted, and seen. Yesterday, my boss said something that put into words an idea that has been on my heart.

The people are more important than tasks.

So, I know that might seem obvious but, really, it’s easy to forget that truth.  People are more important than tasks. When we are given a “job” sometimes we get so fixated on our job that we forget that, maybe, there are times God is asking us to step away from our job and to simply be there for another human being.  It’s easier and (certainly less messy) to focus on tasks and sometimes we are tempted to stay in our task comfort zone.


Yesterday afternoon I was helping my coworker, Jessica, restock our church seat pews with pens and connect cards.  The worship band was on the stage rehearing for the service that evening and joy swept over my heart.  One of the songs being rehearsed was that song…the one that has followed me all the way from North Carolina.  That song has a way of playing at pivotal moments in my story and it prompts me to be grateful for “all that He’s done for me.” I was restocking pens and connect cards. I was performing a task some might find boring and ordinary and yet, that moment was a holy moment for me.  It was a moment when hope whispered sweet reminders of His redeeming love into the ears of my heart.

Lord, never in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine this being a chapter in my story.


Last night at church, I sat among a group of folks who looked like they’d had a rough life.  Some folks become experts at hiding their rough and broken parts…and then other folks wear the broken like a heavy winter coat. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Every few moments  my highly sensitive nose got a subtle whiff of urine.  And, every time this happened, my heart would break and be filled with hope all at the same time.

I ached for every person who has ever felt like they were at the end their rope. I ached for every person who has ever felt like there was no way out.  And yet, as I stood there and sung that song again, I was filled with hope and thankfulness.  Hope… because no one is beyond the reach of the Giver of Hope. Thankfulness… because I was grateful to be standing among people from all walks of life.  I was grateful that that phrase isn’t just words said from the stage during our service but truth sitting in the pews.

Thank you, Jesus!

Remembering the Hero

I never want to forget. I want to remember the valleys. I want to remember the hard and challenging chapters.  Because whenever I do, I remember the rest of the story too.

I remember the God who was faithful to walk with me through those valleys.

I remember that once I had eyes willing to see Him and arms willing to reach for Him, my life changed forever.

Hope wrapped tight around me and has held me ever since.

I remember how the challenging seasons taught me a lesson I now desire to carry with me for the rest of my life:

Ever chapter is in need of a hero who is bigger and stronger than me.

On Monday, Roger and I will have been married for thirteen years. This morning, I listened, again, to one of the songs we chose to have sung during our wedding ceremony.

I listened to the lyrics, I remembered, and I cried.

I never want to forget. I will walk through the valley in order stand in that place where the beauty of His redeeming love and His amazing grace takes my breath away…again and again.

“In the beauty of holiness
We see You Son of righteousness
So we bring all that we possess
To lay at Your feet
In the place where Your glory shines
Jesus lover of all mankind
You have drawn us
With love sublime
To make us complete.

So I pause at Your gates once more
As my heart and spirit soar
And I wish I could love You more
My God and my King.

Is there tribute that I could bring
Was there ever a song to sing
That could ever express, my King
The work that You’ve done
Could I ever conceive of this
All the depths and the heights
And breadth of the riches
I now possess because of Your love.”

“In the Beauty of Holiness” By Robin Mark



“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.”       1 Corinthians 10:31

This morning, I started a new You Version devotional. I selected one from John Piper about God’s glory and our purpose. The first day’s video was good. It’s only three minutes long if you want to watch

Some takeaways:

“You are created (designed) for the glory of God.

Live so as to make God look great.

Our duty flows out of that design.

How can we go about our day doing everything for the glory of God?

Rely on him.

In relying upon God we show His trustworthiness.

God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him.

Goal:  Be maximally satisfied in God today.”

“But he that glories, let him glory in the Lord” 2 Corinthians 10:17

Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain that I can’t control

Some Times Hope is Inconvenient


I am intrigued by how God’s idea of “perfect or ideal conditions” usually differs from our idea of perfect and ideal.

This thought came to me again this morning as I read the first chapter of Luke where Luke gives an account of both Elizabeth and Mary finding out they are pregnant. Elizabeth was barren and “well along in years”. For some reason,  the perfect timing for the birth of John the Baptist was when Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah had, more than likely, already come to a place of peace and acceptance in their lives that they would never be parents. And then, all of sudden, when they are beyond the “ideal” age, they receive the happy news.

Mary was an unwed virgin.  I don’t have to go into too much detail as to why, from a human perspective, this looks like a rather inconvenient and confusing time for a young girl to find out she is with child.

Yet in both stories, and from God’s perspective, the conditions were perfect for both of these remarkable, life changing, and world-changing events.

Reading accounts like this in Scripture tends to fill me with hope.

I love how God always makes the seemingly”imperfect” timed things…perfect.
I love how He specializes in taking the broken and flawed things and making them useable and beautiful again.
I love how He takes inconvenient paths and uses them for His purpose and glory.

I love how He does this all through Scripture and I love how He continues to do this in our stories too.

Have you ever felt certain you were standing in the middle of God’s will and all of sudden inconvenience comes along and shakes things up?

The stories of Elizabeth and Mary are good reminders that maybe, just maybe, your not-so-ideal conditions are perfect conditions for a God who has a clear and limitless view of the horizon.

Hands, Feet, Heart, and Ears

Holding hands with seniorDepositphotos

When a problem surfaces, sometimes people aren’t so much looking for us to completely solve their problem.

Last night I was reminded that more than solutions, people want to…

  • Feel like their voice has been heard and someone has cared enough to listen to them
  • Feel like someone attempted to help even if that someone fails to find the perfect solution to their problem

Feeling heard and feeling cared about establishes trust.  And that trust is necessary if we desire to take a relationship to the next level.

We won’t always have the answer or the solution.

But, what we do have, are ears with the ability to listen and hearts with the capacity to care.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus also means being His ears and His heart too.   :-)


When Weakness Leads to Glory


“Search me, know me, try me and see
Every worthless affection hidden in me
All I’m asking for
Is that You’d cleanse me, Lord

Create in me a heart that’s clean
Conquer the power of secret shame
Come wash away the guilty stain
Of all my sin

Clothe me in robes of righteousness
Cover my nakedness with grace
All of my life before You now
I humbly bring” ~Jonah 33

These song lyrics came to mind this morning. I had not heard or listened to it in years so I looked it up on YouTube again this morning.

I think one of the reasons I thought about the song again was because yesterday I was having a conversation with a few other ladies at work about how we tend to deal with our weaknesses. Weaknesses are not typically the things we like to celebrate. Weaknesses tend to remind us of the ways we have fallen short or areas where we need additional help or guidance.

Yet the one truth I’ve learned over the years is that making the choice to get to know our own areas of weakness and acknowledging our weaknesses is one of the smartest decisions we can make in life.

For years, I worked hard at trying to cover up my weaknesses and that road led to destruction and shame. When I finally became willing to bring my weaknesses out into the light, I discovered that Light was the weapon I desperately needed in order to live in victory despite all the weaknesses in me.

Here’s the beautiful truth: Our weaknesses can be transformed and used for His glory when we become willing to acknowledge and surrender them to the One who specializes in redeeming everything and everyone. In His hands, a weakness can become a strength. How cool is that?

Yesterday, I shared with the ladies at work that, nowadays, I know the beauty of living life where I am quick to admit and reveal my weaknesses to others. That’s where I find freedom.  That’s where I find room to breathe. If I err in life I would much rather err by over acknowledging and admitting my weaknesses than err by attempting to cover them up or hiding them.  Because now I know that the former leads to glory and the latter leads to destruction. 

The song lyrics above always remind me of Psalm 51 when King David humbly cries out to God for mercy and healing after committing adultery with Bathsheba.  David was fully aware of where hiding would lead him. So instead, he chose to acknowledge and find freedom.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart.”  (v 17)

Broke things are weak things and weak things know how desperately they need a strong God fighting on their behalf.

Ripples of Redemption


The title of today’s post came to me even before I wrote the post. I was out walking my dogs yesterday morning and thought about the ripples of redemption I can see in my rearview mirror.

My son recently turned 12 years old. Every year when this season rolls around again, I think about the ripples.

  • It’s been 12 years since I became a mom.
  • It’s been almost 13 years since Roger and I became husband and wife.
  • It’s been almost 14 years since I took my last drink.
  • It’s been 15 years since I came back home (after a decade on the run) and my Father embraced me with open arms.

Last week I mentioned how I took a Strength’s Finder test at work. One of my strengths is “Connectedness” and here are a few qualities that describe people with this strength.

They are certain things happen for reason.
There are no coincidences.
They believe everything and everyone is part of something larger.
They’re bridge builders.
They “connect the dots” from the past, present and, future and by doing so give others perspective, guidance, and hope.

Let me just say, I was delighted to discover that this is one of my strengths because I sure am passionate about it!

I feel like the little boy riding his training wheels free bike I told you about last week. He confidently proclaimed to me: “I’m five years old and I’m good at this!”


This is one of the main reasons The Scenic Route even exists. This is one reason I talk about the importance of looking for the breadcrumbs on the path. Each and every piece leads us somewhere. Each and every piece should encourage us to pause for a moment and look for the treasure hidden away.

Lord, is there a lesson we need to learn?
Lord, is there a gift we need to unwrap?
Lord, how do You hope to grow us through this experience?
Lord, How do You desire to use us?

When we begin to connect the dots, every day becomes a treasure hunt. And that treasure is bigger than us and our circumstances. We learn things about ourselves. We learn things about others. We learn things about the God who created it all.

Today, let’s keep the eyes of heart wide open. He longs to fill us up!

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Roman 15:13