Marching into Freedom


502 Bad Gateway

502 Bad Gateway

Yesterday I was having coffee with a new friend.  The topic of recovery came up, an area we both share a common passion. When she asked me to share a little bit more of my story, I told her how I had been sober for…

I had to pause and think about it. Was I celebrating 14 years or 15 years? Oh, that’s right, 15 years.


“I will call upon the Lord
For he alone is strong enough to save
Rise your shackles are no more
For Jesus Christ
Has broken every chain”

Last night at church, as we sung these words and this beautiful songthat conversation from earlier in the day came to mind again. Wow, Lord, I couldn’t remember exactly how many years. 

As I stood there last night singing the words above, my early days in recovery flashed across my mind. Lord, it’s beautiful to get to a place in life where I actually have to pause briefly in order to recall how long it’s been. At the beginning of this journey, I was well aware of every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, and every year.  

These words I sing, Lord, are not just words. You’ve proved Yourself faithful over and over. 

God is bigger than___________.

Fifteen years ago, my pastor at the time encouraged us to finish the above statement and to believe what we wrote. He challenged us to respond and to live as if the answer we put in that blank was true for our stories and our situations too.

That was the beginning of a wild ride. I watched as God showed up in my situation…ready to fight for me and with me. When I filled in that blank, I signed up for the hardest journey of my life. But it also turned out to be the most rewarding journey of my life too. 

The joy of His strength far outweighed the painful steps forward.  

The words that David wrote in Psalm 18  about being armed with the Lord’s strength during battle time were true in my story too.  

It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure. (v 32)

I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them so that they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes. (verses 37-40) 

I don’t know what Enemy you might be up against today.  But my prayer is that you dare to believe and fully trust the King who marches out ahead of you. Grab hold of your marching orders and follow Him.

The Last Two Miles a fantastic run this morning. I was determined to go 8 miles and I knew that it was going to be tempting to stop at 6 miles because I would see my car. My legs were tired but my heart was determined, so I made a u-turn and did 2 more.

So many beautiful things happened during the last 2 miles and to think I would have missed them if I had stopped. I won’t share them all now but I will share this: At around mile 4, I ran by a man who was running in the opposite direction and we gave each other the polite running nod. Then, I saw this same guy as I was running mile 8. He was coming towards me on the same side of the road. As he passed me, he lifted his arm in the air for a high-five. I happily slapped his hand and let out a “Woohoo!” I love runners. Giving high-fives to total strangers is completely acceptable behavior.


I shared those thoughts on Facebook yesterday.  That moment, of giving a high-five to another runner, was the perfect ending to a great run.

Shortly after I started running my normal route yesterday, I noticed an empty discarded travel size wine bottle on the side of the road. Sightings such as that instantly trigger my gratitude button. I am so grateful little bottles of wine are no longer a part of my life. The days when I would dig through my purse to gather up enough bills and/or change to purchase a couple of those (easily concealable) bottles are long gone. Those days when I was held captive by drinking thoughts and drinking desires are no more. I am free. Thank you, Lord!

As I ran this same stretch of road on my way back towards my car, these words were playing in my ears…

“You break unbreakable chains, walls fall at the sound of Your name, the lost are found, the old is new, You do impossible things, impossible things.” (Impossible Things, Ben Honeycutt)

And, as I made a u-turn on tired, determined legs I heard these words…

“I may be weak, but Your Spirit’s strong in me. My flesh may fail but my God You never will.” (Give Me Faith, Elevation)

And then, a few minutes later,  I spot two deer walking slowly out of the trees and crossing the road in front of me. A third deer appears out of the trees too, but instead of crossing the road he stands there and watches me.  As I run by him, he continues to follow me with his eyes. I notice as I pass him that he is standing just on the opposite side of the road from where the empty wine bottle is discarded.

How fitting, Lord. The broken on one side. The victorious on the other. 

Two verses of scripture wrapped themselves around my heart during those last two miles of my run.

My heart says this about You
“You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face. Psalm 27:8

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer
and sets me securely on the heights. Psalm 18:33

And then, I heard these words played in my ears…

“All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust.”  (Beautiful Things, Gungor)

Perhaps this moment is only significant and beautiful to me. Because that’s how our Savior operates. He enters our moments and speaks and interacts with us on a personal level. Like Nathanael sitting under the fig tree before Phillip invited him to come meet Jesus, our Creator intimately knows us and each of our stories. (John 1:43-50)

As I crossed the “finish line” yesterday morning This is Amazing Grace was playing. The same song that has followed me chapter after chapter, season after season, mile after mile.
“This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh, Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me

Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King of Glory”

the miracle of it all


My son, Sean, is officially a teenager today. As I was making my coffee this morning, I had one of those “unreal feeling” moments.  When did I become a mom of a teenager?  

I was thinking about the moments, months, and years prior to becoming a mom, prior to that Monday morning 13 years ago when I was standing by the bathroom sink talking to my husband about the plan for the day. I’d had a rough night and my husband wasn’t sure whether or not he should leave me at home and go to work. Sean was not officially due to arrive for 5 more days, but we weren’t so sure he was going to wait that long. Should my husband go into work? Should I call my doctor and try to get my weekly baby check appointment moved up to today instead of Tuesday?

And then, right in the middle of all the questions, our answer showed up. My water broke. We collected our hospital bags and made the 30 minute drive into town.  We were going to meet our son…today!

This morning, I’ve decided again, that I never want to forget about the miracle of it all.  Not just the miracle of being a mom but the miracle of everything else. The miracle of how broken roads will often lead to some place so beautiful. I never want to forget how, at that season in my life, I was standing right in the middle of a miracle.

The stubborn choices I had fearfully made over the years, the painful consequences, the love and discipline from a Savior who refused to give up on me or stop pursuing me, the breaking of chains, the spacious places, the breathing room, the second chances, the amazing grace…

I think back on all of it again this morning. I inhale the grace and breathe out the gratitude.  I don’t deserve this beauty, Lord. None of it. Thank you. 

Today, I am thankful for the miracle of it all.

Start a Fire


“What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked.

 Jesus replied, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the One He has sent.” John 6: 28-29

Believing carries more weight than doing and performing. In fact, belief is the only “must be present ingredient” to tapping into the works of God. 

Belief is the catalyst.

Belief strikes the match that ignites the flame.

In order to believe something or someone there has got be a level of trust and faith. And in order to have trust and faith our lives must collide and engage with that something or someone.  And if we truly believe in that something or someone, it will become evident in our lives.

I spend a lot of time going back and rereading John 6 where Jesus tells his disciples that He is the bread of life.  My faith rests on this being true. If this is not true then my faith and trust in Jesus is futile. 

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8

“I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.

 I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.

 God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.

 Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.

When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.

God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

 Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.”
Psalm 34 1-9 Message

A Hope Worth Running For


You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the One who calls you.” Galatians 5:7-8

While out on my walk this morning, I thought about these verses.  As a runner, verses that compare our spiritual journey to running a race and crossing the finish line resonate deeply with me.

One of things I love most about these verses is that the encouragement to keep running and staying the course come from the lips of a man who had good reasons to despair and even better reasons to quit the race on countless occasions during his lifetime.

“Three times I was beaten with rods by the Romans. Once I was stoned by my enemies. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea.”  2 Corinthians 11:25

And yet, through it all, he kept running. He finished the race.

It wasn’t a perfect race. It wasn’t an easy race. It was far from pain or suffering free.

But it was the Hope of the One who he personally encountered that afternoon on a dusty road to Damascus that forever transformed his heart and his perspective.

Because that’s was Jesus offers us.

A new heart and a new spirit-filled perspective.

Hope in the darkness. Hope through the endless suffering. Hope through the senseless pain.

From that encounter forward, Paul knew the truth. And no matter what his earthly eyes and body had to endure, His spiritual eyes stayed firmly fixed on what was waiting at the finish line if he did not quit or give up.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4: 6-8

Walking Through Melancholy


For a few days now, my heart and mind have felt indifferent about writing. I’ve been blogging, consistently, for seven years.  As I sit here and think about that journey, I can’t remember another time where I’ve gone through a creative season quite like this.

For seven years, more often than not, I’ve jumped out of bed before the sun, eager to thread a few words and thoughts together. I sit here this morning trying to search for the word to describe this place and melancholy is the only one that comes to mind.  And, yet, I don’t feel tearful or emotional. There simply seems to be this calm, quite, just below the surface sadness…lingering.  My best guess is this is part of the grieving/healing process and the only way out is through.

I keep reminding myself that the last time I lost a parent my reaction was different. I attempted to run, stuff, hide, and ignore the pain. When that didn’t suffice, I added a dysfunctional, unhealthy, codependent relationship and wrapped it all up in a booze numbing band-aid. I don’t need to tell you that those grief journey choices didn’t lead me out, they just led me deeper into the dark.

So I’m sitting here admitting that I’m melancholy.  And, that’s okay.  I’m allowing space and time to walk through it all. It’s all part of the journey. I’m not hiding. I’m not stuffing. I’m not ignoring.  I am, however, reminding myself that there is no need to try to journey this road all alone. And, why would I want too? I know where that choice can lead.

I’ve logged enough time in the dark.
I choose light, His light.
I choose abundant grace and new mercies.

This morning, this song was part of a Facebook post I shared three years ago. I listened to it again this morning.  It was food for my soul.

looking for the love letters


And now, God, do it again
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
those who planted their crops in despair
    will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
    will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.  Psalm 126: 4-6 Message

I read those verses again not too long ago. After doing so, I reread some words I recently shared on Facebook:

While out on my run this morning I thought about our weekly chapel time at work. After looking at Acts 1:1-3, the reflection question for each of us to answer with the folks we were sitting next to was this: What are you absolutely convinced about?

My answer came to mind instantly. I am absolutely convinced (certain) that He redeems everything.

As I ran along and thought about all the answers I heard yesterday, one thing became clear to me. Those answers are not born out of “blind faith”

No. I am willing to bet that EACH answer was born because at some time during EACH journey “faith became sight.” When faith becomes real and tangible and PERSONAL amazing things happen…

Scales fall away and beautiful light breaks through.
Sinking feet “walk on water.”
Dark pits are left behind.
Heavy chains are broken.
Hearts beyond repair become whole and full of hope.

The Word became flesh… John 1:14


Faith becoming sight moments/opportunities are all around us.

Sometimes they’re blow-you-away…HUGE.

And then, other times…most of the time… faith become sight moments are more like whispers to your heart.  But those whispers?  They’re unforgettable moments of love, of mercy, and grace.

I wonder how many moments we miss seeing and recognizing in our every day routine filled lives because we aren’t looking for or anticipating them?

I read this beautiful post over at Ann Voskamp’s blog not too long ago, it’s a guest post by Jenny Simmons.

In this long and sometimes painful journey we call life, the story she shares is a faith to sight moment.  It’s those assurances along the road and in the valleys when God reminds us that he has not fallen asleep or walked away and left us.  He’s right there, loving on us in such profound and deeply personal ways.  This story, it’s what I mean when I say “God redeems everything.” Take a few minutes and read this:
the other kind of miracle: the one you don’t think to pray for 

In our darkest valleys, He embraces us with unexpected hugs.
In the midst of our pain, He sends us love letters, addressed to us and signed by Him, personally.
He shows us beauty that our hearts will never forget.
That beauty, His beauty, heals us.

Sharing a Jenny Simmons/Addison Road song…

Power Clothed in Weakness


“Power is the slaughtered Lamb…power clothed in weakness.”

I heard those words at the church the other night.  Our pastor was reading a verse in Revelation “Then I saw the One like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne…” (5:6)

I love this reminder.

In the throne room of heaven we see a slaughtered lamb…it’s the symbol of power and victory.

It can only be through the eyes of faith that an image such as this can bring joy and hope to a heart.  In heaven…the home of perfection…stands a bloody lamb.

It can only be through eyes of faith that we look at this image…awestruck…basking in the…beauty.  

Beauty?  How can that be? 

How can one look at such a sight and perceive beauty?  This incredible ability of our great God to take all that is “ugly”… all the pain in this world and all the suffering in our lives and redeem it fascinates and humbles me whenever I pause to think about it.

Pain, suffering and death is ugly…there is no denying this. 

Yet..somehow…when I think of this slaughtered lamb standing in the throne room of heaven I am filled with hope and joy…and life. 

Why?  Because… through Christ… death loses its sting.

“Death, where is your victory?

Death, where is your sting?
Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 

“Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

Fly Home


It’s been two weeks since my dad passed away. Last night, my phone rang and I was surprised when the name “Frances” showed up on caller I.D. Frances was my dad’s caretaker for 3 years. She and I hadn’t spoken since the night before my dad’s passing. When my dad died she called my brother who lives in Arizona who then contacted me.

Frances apologized for not calling me sooner. Shortly after my dad’s passing she went home for 10 days to Mexico to visit her family.

She thanked me for the flowers I had sent her. I. told her, again, how much I appreciated her and how thankful I was for all her help and kindness over the years.

She then went on to share how during the last few hours of my dad’s life she had music playing on the CD player in his room. She played the Michael Buble CD I gave him a few Christmases ago. She played other music too. When my dad took his last breath at 4am, “I’ll Fly Away” was playing in the background.

After we ended our conversation, I listened to that beautiful song again and focused on the lyrics.

What a fitting way to end this chapter. The day before he died I shared this post with you all point him home.

No more prison. No more shackles.

Some bright morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away
To that home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

When the shadows of this life have gone
I’ll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I’ll fly
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away

Oh, how glad and happy when we meet
I’ll fly away
No more cold iron shackles on my feet
I’ll fly away

I’ll fly away, oh glory
I’ll fly away in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away


Delight and Direction


“Your decrees are my delight and my counselors.” Psalm 119:24

I paused to reflect on this particular verse recently.  I was intrigued by how the Psalmist described what the Lord’s decrees mean to him.  In other translations the words statutes or testimonies are used instead of decree.

So the Lord’s law, the evidence, the proof, the orders, the commands are delightful to the Psalmist and offer him direction and guidance.

Delight and Direction

As I thought more about this, I was reminded that it requires a certain posture of heart for delight and direction to co-exist.

Think about it.  How often is delight not our first reaction when we receive counsel, correction or constructive criticism? How often is delight not our first response when instructions challenge our initial way of doing or seeing something?

But here the Psalmist says: Lord, I take delight in Your instructions. 

In order to receive delight from counsel, our hearts need to be open, receptive, and teachable.

In order to receive delight from counsel, we need to be able to acknowledge that perhaps there is a better path to walk down… perhaps there is a better way to move forward.

In order to receive delight from counsel, our hearts must continually surrender their tendency to deceive us.

I think about the warning in Jeremiah. “The heart is more deceitful than anything else,
and incurable—who can understand it?”

Lord, keep us teachable today. As we come to You, help us to lay down our tendency to see and respond through eyes of pride and stubbornness.  Instead, soften our hearts so we are receptive to Your Word and Your Way.