Tag Archives: heartache


Fireworks are one of my favorite things in the world! I adore their pageantry, creativity and grandeur. With childlike abandon, I look forward to the 4th of July, researching when all the fireworks displays will occur and trying to squeeze in as many as possible.

foreworks imagesWhat I don’t like, however, are folks who purchase their own and insist on shooting them off into the wee hours of the morning. In the early morning hours of the 5th of July, I felt my house was under siege as the neighborhood booming and banging didn’t stop until almost 2AM. Who could sleep with all the ruckus outside my door?

Unfortunately, I don’t do well when my sleep is interrupted, so today I am bleary-eyed and irritable. I’ve been fervently trying to gut it out without a nap, so I also ardently pray, “Lord, help me get through this day.” Every few minutes I lift up this request because my eyes are droopy and my to do list is long.

Sometimes I feel a bit sheepish praying to God for something so trivial. I rationalize, “He has more important things to worry about like world peace, starving people or decaying morals. He doesn’t care about my lack of sleep.” But in 1 Samuel 1:15, Hannah states, “I am a deeply troubled woman. I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.”

Now Hannah had some real problems. She was infertile in a time when women were judged by the number of children they bore. She was one of two wives – a cultural norm at this juncture in history – and was experiencing a rival wife problem. I’m sure these challenges left her feeling frustrated and devalued. But Hannah poured out all of her problems, her entire soul, to God. Not just the monumental concerns, but the entirety of them.

It is easy to believe God is not interested in my sleeplessness, but God cares about everything. He is faithful and longs to fill our souls with peace regardless of what is bothering us. When we explain our feelings to Him, He bears our burdens. What is important is not the size of our problem, but the time we spend with Him. For it is in His presence, we are changed.

My sleeplessness may pale in comparison to your concerns. Maybe you are dealing with financial woes, relational difficulties, a bad medical report. Your life may be peppered with seemingly impossible situations that won’t be solved by a good night’s rest. But when you pour out your soul to God, when you get really honest with Him, He will faithfully replace your empty with His fullness, regardless of whether He removes your burdens or allows them to remain. Only in prayer do we experience the One and Only life-altering God.

Going to God with whatever is causing your head to ache reminds us that God is able. He is powerful. He is caring. To get through the worries, fears and hurts bring them to Him. So when you are feeling alone, scared or just plain tired, pour your soul out to God and experience the relief of divine arms wrapping themselves around you.

The best way to pray is with deep honesty. To gain that transparency, pray often- frequently opening up your life to God. Even if all you are praying for is a little sleep.


Church is supposed to be a safe haven, a place where we learn to trust God, to find security in Him, to worship God. We are rescued there from the evil outside. But what if that evil comes crashing through the doors and robs us of our shelter?

stained glass1That’s what happened on the evening of July 17, when a young man visited a Bible study in a compassionate church in Charleston, South Carolina. What started with the love of God ended in violence as nine members were gunned down by their guest. The shooting rocked the core of the community in Charleston, but it also caused fear to lodge in my heart – in a body that was 2500 miles away. Why do bad things happen? And could it happen in my church? Fear, pain and confusion aren’t limited by distance. They grow in you despite your best efforts to sweep them away.

My heart broke when I heard the news of the shooting, late that night, across three time zones and all those miles. I heard my heart crack while I snuggled in bed thinking of the families whose loved ones were victims. My heart was heavy, but theirs must have been inconsolable. Church should always be safe. Church means loving and caring and living in a community that heals our pain. It should never be a battleground, but a kinship that is able to overcome any artificial barriers we humans put up. Christ came to save us all.

That evening started with Bible study and it is now the Word healing the hearts of so many – not only in South Carolina, but throughout the country. Hearts so deeply wounded can only be restored by dressing themselves in the love of Jesus. I am so inspired by the forgiveness shown to that troubled young man by the members of the church who rose up and said publically, “I forgive you.” They are administering lavish grace not just to him, but to all of us. Their actions point out that the best way to tend your own wounds is to open your arms wide in love and forgiveness.

We are called to grieve with those who grieve. I am doing that as I watched mourners come together across racial differences. Marchers who held candles and walked across bridges and shouted even in their silence, “The only way to heal is to show love.” When the world breaks your heart, the only way through the pain is to show more love. These brave souls are inspiring me to develop a habit of showing love, of reaching out, of trying to comfort rather than inflict more pain. I want the world to experience the God of redemption and grace through my actions and my thoughts.

It sounds like an impossible task, but let’s be motivated by those who at their most crushing moment of loss stood up in forgiveness. Just as God filled the angry, broken places in their lives, He can fill them in all of us freeing us to love more fully. God can shelter us from the pain of the outside world because it is only God who is bigger than our pain.

Whatever is causing you fear, whatever brings you pain, always remember God will never abandon you in the midst of your trial. Throughout the Bible, God promises as He does in Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” He will always be your sanctuary.


I found myself laughing when I shouldn’t have. The comic strip wasn’t all that funny, but my day had been pretty boring up until that point, so the little dog pretending to line up a putt on the famous Augusta golf course just seemed hilarious. Did a dog purchase his golf clubs at a pro shop or a pet shop? What kind of caddy does a dog use? And who would make the tiny green jacket should the canine win?

World_Famous_Golf_ProThe beagle didn’t land his putt, but it didn’t matter. The platitude: Laughter is the Best Medicine swirling in my mind seemed so apropos. As I imagined the answers to my silly questions, I realized often I take myself too seriously.

God’s grace is an amazing thing and very often instead of giving myself grace, I get caught up in a lecture. You know the type: How I’m not good enough. How I didn’t try enough. How I’m just plain not enough. That little dog had so much swagger taking on those at the top of the leader board at the invitation only tournament. Still amused, remembering the missed putt, I was determined to dare to dream big like that modest pooch.

It wasn’t boastfulness. Like most of you, my inner critics don’t whisper; they scream. “You aren’t beautiful. Your creativity is in sore need of help. You’ll never be successful.” But on that day, my laughter was God’s way of telling me, “Dare to put the seriousness aside. Dare to see yourself as Beloved. Dare to be brilliant – just seek Me in everything.”

God can do so much more than me, so I’m working on stopping during the day and giving whatever I am doing over to Him. To stop the work of my hands, bow in prayer and lay it in His hands. Of fighting back those internal critics with the understanding God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, He just wants me.

No one gets out of life unscathed. Maybe you find yourself contending with depression, which keeps yanking you down. Maybe the sense of not being enough holds you in place. Maybe, like me, the shadows of insecurity keep you from rising above your circumstances.

The relentless tug of war can only stop in the midst of the joy found in God; the One who is with us and for us. When it comes to these fights in our lives, we need joy to be our constant companion, so we can dare to live big. We can dare to live by faith. We can dare to live in a world where we don’t have the answers and never will. We can do all this because the battles of life, both internal and external, have already been won through Christ.