Do You Need To Re-think Christmas?

God gave me a huge download this last week.  I had a birthday which can be exhilarating and excruciating at the same time. Smile. I guess that reality aligns with our actual birth days which were full of joy and full of pain. However one precious gift I received was a word from the Lord. An actual word: honor.  I am still translating all that the Spirit poured out but I thought it was no accident to get this word right at Christmas time.

Honor is to elevate above, esteem, hold in high value. The Spirit brought to mind the verse, “he who honors me, him will I honor.” (1 Samuel 2:30)  It’s an odd verse.  But it is packed with promise. This isn’t a duty-bound, fear-driven demand. This is an invitation. From God.  He is saying, if you honor me, it’s not a one-way street. I am going to turn around and honor you back.  Selah.

I don’t know if you know this about God. But here is the word picture.  A mom says to her daughter, “You go fill up your hands with candy and give it to me. And then I will fill up my hands with candy and give it to you…”

Who do you think has bigger hands?


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Let’s Love Our Kids—and Our Company

True confessions.  I used to get so stressed out cleaning and perfecting that my family hated having people come over.  It hit me like a ton of bricks the day both my girls whined, “I hate having company.”  Whaaaaat? How have I failed to teach them hospitality? How could they be so insular? so selfish?  Then the rest of their sentence rolled out.

“You are always so angry and stressed out that it’s not worth it.”


How could I teach them love for others when I was not loving them under pressure? I am glad that hard conversation came when it did. And I am sad that my temper tantrums lasted as long as they did. Hospitality, it turns out, begins at home. So does honor, respect, patience and valuing others, no matter how old your kids are. Unskilled toddlers or resistant teens.

I know some of you sweet, calm moms have no idea what I am talking about. But some of you do.

We want everything to be so perfect, so under control, that we try to manage our children like little chess pieces on a gameboard to keep everything “just right.” Here is the kicker. If I have to yell to get my chore list done to my satisfaction, I don’t have my priorities in place.

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me,” the hymn rings out.  Maybe it is better said, “Let there be peace in my home, and let it begin with me.”

God changed me.  I have had many people over in the last four years. The chores have gotten done, or not. The table set beautifully, or not. The food delicious, or not. And none of those “things” have been more important than loving on my kids and husband well in the process.

I didn’t realize it before, but my explosion on them was inadvertently saying, you don’t matter as much as the company does. Although my message was “let’s love on other people,”  my actions said “let’s love on other people at your expense.”

Okay take a deep drink from the cup of Grace. He loves you no matter what. But let’s learn some new ways.

Here are a few guardrails God gave me to keep all the “getting ready” energy flowing in peace:

• It doesn’t have to be perfect to be well done. Be satisfied with less.

• If I am getting charged up, I am not trusting God in the details. Stop and pray.

• My kids are going to learn from me, so I might as well teach them grace instead of rage. Worship instead of worry.

• And finally, understand that the peace in your home is more important to everyone than the looks and the food.

I can go anywhere for food. I can’t go anywhere and get the peace of God. Invite Him to rest in your home while you prepare it for others.

Okay. Enjoy getting ready for Thanksgiving. I mean it. Enjoy it. All of it.


Porter LeBoeuf enjoying some of her grandmother’s, Kate LeBoeuf, delicious goodies. And her peace.


Blessed to Be a Blessing…

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”― Benjamin Disraeli

My heart is full of joy this morning. I recently received an overwhelming gift. Many of my friends have as well. In my case, someone paid for my entire family to go to a life-changing conference. Among my friends, one received financing for a book project, another was blessed with a new car,  another received long-awaited professional counsel at no charge, another received funding for a photography project. The list goes on…

But there’s more. All of these gifts had one common result—they empowered the recipient to do what God had called them to do. The gift-givers didn’t give out of duty or obligation or worse, pity. They gave with a heart to empower the work of God.

This is the Abrahamic covenant in action. We are blessed to be a blessing. (Genesis 12: 1-3) God was up to something amazing when He released this promise. He began a domino effect that has carried on for thousands of years.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.  Proverbs 3:27

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:25

–See that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  2 Corinthians 9:11

domino demonstration knock down small big-1

That is exactly what happened. Each of the gift-receivers praised God for His faithfulness. Don’t miss this. God is teaching us to be like Him.  Out of His abundance, He “graciously gives us all things.” (Romans 8:32) His holy intention is to produce in us a righteous harvest. In layman’s terms, good fruit. He plants His good seed in us so that we will in turn have an abundant harvest to plant good seed in others. Is God smart or what?

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Why I Still Go To Church

Ah yes. Hear that collective groan?  “To church, or not to church,”  that is the question among believers. Many of us are sick and tired of the way churches have become bloated institutions driven by the agendas of a handful of people. Many of us have been seriously wounded, neglected and rejected. Many of us, old and young alike, remark, “I just don’t see the point.”

I do not deny these stark accusations. And yet, I still go to church. Here’s why.


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When Dead Things Come to Life

It is one of those Holy Convergences. You know the ones? When God is trying to tell you something and He brings the same message from all these “random” directions? Yeah, one of those. It is freaky and delightful all at once. Let me break it down.

First came the lunch meeting at Aubrey’s.  I casually glanced out the window and time stopped for a moment as I watched this beautiful “pink snow storm.” Only it wasn’t snowflakes but seeds and petals caught up in the wind.  I couldn’t take my eyes off this magical display. The wind, like the hand of God, just wrapped itself around this life-laden tree. It  gathered up the pink promises, and in a gust, tossed the tree’s future into the air, carrying seed far from the original planting. Literally, it was like a river of pink seed carried through the current of air.

Are you seeing this? the Spirit whispered.  Yes, Lord. Yes.

Then came Easter. God always brings a new revelation around what Father, Son and Spirit did for me. For you. One revelation came as I was planting new flowers and seeds. I heard the phrase, “Jesus was  planted in the earth.”  A dead seed. But then God raised him to life and from his resurrected life came forth many seeds. That is me and you.

Our very spiritual lives are a result of His power to bring new life from the dead.


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“I Need More…” Class Tonight!

I don’t know why I am so excited about this class.  I think it is the Freshness that I feel in His approach.  I have just had time to pause and reflect, even to evaluate why we do what we do. Or more specifically, why I do what I do when it comes to Jesus and teaching and pouring out.IMG_2057

With all that said, I feel like a river has opened up in my soul and I am eager to splash around in it. And to invite some friends along to play as well.

So please pray with me as women come that they will drink deeply.  Pray for me as He pours through me. And please. There are so many who “need more” of Jesus…in so many different ways.  So spread the word of this offering.

Green Brier Club House,  1505 Greenbrier Ridge Way, Knoxville, TN 37909.  Every Other Tuesday beginning tonight, 6:30-8:30



Pesto: A Lesson on Jesus and Gratitude

I’ve heard a lot of people bad-mouthing God lately. Mean stuff.  Accusing Him of wrong doing, of abandoning people, of being cruel and unjust. And while I know their petty insults don’t put a dent in His endless joy, it aggravates me. A lot.

I rant to God myself but I don’t blame Him for my stupidity or the stupidity of others. In fact, Jesus is my best and brightest hope. So why isolate from the only One who heals, loves to help, and changes circumstances?   As I was mumbling to God about these mumblers, He gave me a crazy picture that put things in perspective for us all.

My friend Kate makes the best pesto in the world. The bowls magically empty every time I serve it. Even when it is not served, people request it. “So you got any more of Kate’s pesto?” they ask, already knowing I do. It would be near criminal to refuse them. It’s that good.

It all started with Kate’s crazy basil plant that she ignored and it produced abundantly, out of control. That is another blog post altogether, but she decided to make pesto with her abundant plant and then realized that her quantities of pesto were also abundant. Enter me, the willing pesto junkie, happy to take any extras she may have.

She recently asked me if I wanted last year’s leftovers to make room for this year’s batch. I took it all.  Without guilt or hesitation. All.  And yes, I shared the abundant stash with other pesto junkie friends.pesto

Now in my world, I have really tried to express my gratefulness. From my perspective, I really, really think I have thanked Kate appropriately.  I have bragged on her, I have posted on her Facebook page, I have texted.  I am pretty sure that she knows that I am grateful for this delicious gift.

Until. Until she gave me the recipe and I decided to make it myself.

(Jesus is relevant in this story so stay with me.)

She gave me the sacred recipe with extra notes gleaned from trial and error. She gave me some of her sacred, abundant, Basil plant. She told me where and what kinds of ingredients to buy. She even told me what kind of food processor I would need.

I was making it, but everything was still from her and through her…

It was the most humbling moment. When I made it myself, only then did I see the effort required, the true and high cost of the ingredients, the lavish flavors that were carefully blended together. This is not your basic thrown down of mere nuts, olive oil and basil.  There were two fine cheeses I couldn’t even pronounce, two different kinds of nuts, extra virgin olive oil, on and on the extravagant list goes.  It’s not hard to make necessarily.  But when my own batch was done, I found I was grateful beyond words. And no, to be honest, it was not as good as hers. She has “the touch.”

I had no idea.  I had no idea the cost of the cheeses and nuts. No idea how much basil was required. No idea of the effort and the precision.

Then it hit me, how could I be fully grateful for that which I had no idea of its true cost?

I thought about Jesus a lot when I was making pesto that day with my junkie friend, Heather.  We kept making remarks like, “Now we know why it’s so good.” and “Wow, who knew this was in here?”  and, “Oh my goodness, this is so expensive to make!”

I kept thinking about Kate just giving me all that pesto.  So extravagant a gift and all I gave her was a greedy thank you and an ask for more. I kept thinking about Jesus.  About how I think I know why to be thankful but really I don’t have a clue of the real cost…

A couple of God take aways:

Be grateful rather than greedy.  When we complain/accuse/blame The God of Love and Life, we forget that we can’t even breath without His power. He gives us all that we have. We may be dissatisfied, or greedy, or clueless, but we do well to remember that “he graciously gives us all things for life and godliness.” All that we have, even that which we complain about…it’s a gift from Him.

His lavishness is to be shared. It is out of His abundance that He gives us abundance so that we can give abundantly.  God blessed Kate’s basil that she transformed and shared with me. Out of her blessing I was able to enjoy this amazing gift but also to pass the blessing on to others. What have you been blessed with?  Are you transforming it? Are you sharing it?

Consider the great cost.  Jesus has given us His extravagant, abundant love, redemption, adoption—every single blessing we enjoy.  On our good days, we throw little thank you’s at Him while our hands are out asking for more. On our bad days, we just complain. And yet we don’t even know all that it took— all the ingredients, the cost, the precision, the sacrifice, for us to have His life.

How gracious. How giving. How generous. How patient with my ignorance.

It is the giver of the gift who knows the full price of the gift. Like Kate with her pesto. Like Jesus with his redemption. It is the receiver of the gift (me!) that would do well to consider the cost and realize some things can never be re-paid only shared. Maybe the best way to bless Jesus, or Kate, is to honor the giver by passing on the blessing I have received with a grateful heart.

As for the trash talking about God? Maybe the sound of our praise and thanksgiving will drown out their doubt and unbelief. Maybe our shared abundance will do more to soften their hard hearts than any correction.

The Missing Ingredient for Breakthrough

“I’m stuck.”     “I can’t.”       “I don’t know how.”

I have come to a real epiphany around these phrases. As a warning, you may not like my revelation, but it is in the Word.  So I guess you’ll need take it up with the Author and Finisher of our Faith instead of with me. Smile.

I’ve spent a lot of time telling people how to get well.  Some respond and some don’t. No problem. But I have also spent a lot of time trying to talk people into getting well. Most don’t.  This is a problem on both our ends. It’s not a counseling issue, it’s a repentance issue.

Why?  Because, while God has forgiven us completely of our sin and no longer counts it against us, there is still a spiritual principle of repentance that is for OUR good health. Let me explain.

Repentance is like a spiritual thermometer. It checks the tenderness of our hearts, our willingness to see with spiritual eyes, our openness to hear from the Lord. When I get in a wad, it is repentance that invites God to redirect my heart and mind. Otherwise I continue to harden—defend — isolate—blame. These heart conditions always lead to stupid actions. Always. That’s why we want our “repentance reflex” to be very quick and strong.

So what is repentance?  To turn back. To return. To agree with God.

It is like Google Maps saying, “Re-routing.”  Somehow we have gotten off the blue line of wisdom or truth so repentance, or returning, helps us get back on God’s blue line of direction. And with repentance comes a promise.

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19-20 NASB)

This makes my heart beat faster. Have you ever felt this burden? The sheer weight of the bitterness, confusion, anger, disappointment, unbelief, sarcasm, shame or accusation?

As soon as we confess it, agree with God, turn our faces back to His, He wipes it away and we are given a fresh breath of His loving presence. Again and again He does this. His mercy never fails.

People who love to repent do get well over time.

But what about those who scoff or ignore or despise even the idea of repentance? Here is my epiphany.

So much time is spent on God’s people who are Clearly lost and yet they act like they are not. This is denial, or worse, pride. I am finding it is better to let them soak in the hard place rather than to give hours of unheeded counsel. Here’s why. I believe our good intentions hamper their healing. People want to talk about their problems and they should. We all need it. In fact the Bible encourages us to confess our sins to one another that we may be healed. (James 5:16)

Yet here’s a dividing point. Danny Silk has this beautiful phrase, “You don’t have a solution for anybody on the planet that doesn’t have a problem.” People who want to massage their problems are not repenting. They want to feel better for the moment but they never want to get right with the Lord. They rarely ever want to confess that they are the problem. And more importantly, they never want to believe that Jesus can or will heal them. Even Jesus asked, do you want to get well? (John 5)
He didn’t ask, do you want spend endless time arguing, blaming, defending, explaining why you are sick and why I should feel sorry for you?

He asked a crippled man, Do you want to be well? When the man started giving his list of excuses, Jesus gave a clear instruction, “pick up your mat and walk.” It was completely counter to what the cripple expected. Here is where choice is a life or death matter in healing. The cripple had to respond to Jesus’s instruction in order to be healed.

Everyone has the freedom to choose life or death. God or drama. Free or stuck. Worship or numbed out.  People have to choose to go to God. To listen and respond in repentance. They need to feel the squeeze of their choices in attitudes and actions. We call this beautiful phenomena “being led by the Spirit.” And we all have to respond when the Spirit tells us to get up and walk.

I think it’s important for us to tell people about the incredible love of God and then get out-of-the-way. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. Not our begging, enabling, cajoling, controlling. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction and only the Holy Spirit can empower healing. Our job is to tell them what’s available, love them either way, and then let them choose their own path. Life or death. Healing or addiction. Conquering or quitting.

May we all work on our “repentance reflex.” There is so much more life available in God. I believe repentance is the key that unlocks the door.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 
Psalm 42:5

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. 
Proverbs 28:3a

Our Awkward Lovely Selves

Why is awkward such a curse?  Why is being in human contact so painful that we will vie for just about any alternative to escape. Enter:

  • Food
  • Porn
  • Smartphones
  • Texting
  • Gossip
  • Avoidance
  • Sex
  • Shopping
  • Drugs
  • Work
  • Shall I go on?

I wonder if Awkward is a symptom instead of a cause. I heard a story once about the power of the photograph.  Read that again. The Power of a Photograph.  The story goes that a group of people were interacting, sharing, relaxed and comfortable in their own skin. They were even “unaware” of personal flaws until…the introduction of the photograph. One woman was said to be quick to smile, full of laughter and joy— until she  saw her face for the first time in a photograph. IMG_1970

Try to give yourself time to envision this.

Our children are INUNDATED with images of themselves. From newborn photos in the hospital, to annual growth pictures, to school pictures, to now Facebook and Instagram postings, our children are constantly seeing themselves captured in time. They are constantly “on display.”  I even remember seeing a great shot on a school field trip of one of Charis’s friends.  I said, “Hey, let me get your picture.” She immediately straightened her back, threw her shoulders back, cocked her head to one side, and then gave me a perfect cover girl smile. Obviously, my original shot of her was ruined, but her “photo coaching” was evident.

So try hard to think of life without the constant evaluation. No concern of whether you are with makeup or without. No selfies. No Kodak moments. Just living life as a fluid experience.

Back to the laughing woman. She saw her own captured image for the first time and for the first time she became self conscious. Conscious of her self.

The wrinkles when she laughed, the gap in her teeth, the way her eyes squinted unevenly, all these unique attributes were, before this moment, simply part of who she was and blissfully un-critiqued.  But no more.

We live in an age of Self Conscious.  How do I look? How do they look? How do I look compared to them?

The temptation is so strong. Case in point. I am in Nashville today having joined Chuck on a business trip.  We got up at 5 a.m. and had a three hour car drive.  So I washed my face, brushed my teeth, pulled my hair back in a ponytail and headed out the door. I was completely at ease until Chuck dropped me off at the Starbucks near Vanderbilt.

I went in the bathroom and saw my reflection. Without even “thinking” I compared my appearance to the college, preppy, professional, cool lookers I had passed on the way in.  Wow, I thought, I look awful.

Really? In a span of walking from the front door to the bathroom, I went from completely at ease to completely self critical.  That, my friends, is the curse of Self Conscious. And, may I go further? I believe this root produces a nasty offshoot called Awkward.

We get in social settings and our fear of conflict or failure or criticism chokes our hearts and emotions to such a degree that we seize up and morph into this ball of Awkward. We’re so concerned about what to say, how to say, should I say. It all comes back to looking to each other for definition and approval.

I tell you there is freedom. And that freedom comes not by winning the game of perfection, or isolation.  No one wins when there is only one standard of beauty. No one wins when we resort to emotional shut down to avoid the tension.

Freedom comes when we acknowledge the fear of being less than and allow Perfect Love to have His say. That is what transformed my Starbucks moment.  “I belong to my lover, and His desire is for me.” (Song of Songs 7:10)  Oh yeah, there is a bigger story being told here.

It really is the diversity, the collage, the imperfections of humanity that make us truly alive. It is the beauty expressed in each of us that lets us truly see the beauty of God. It is the love of God that helps me love me and thus love you.  Why? Because if He can love my crazy, psycho self with all my inconsistencies, I am confident He can love you too.  Understanding the “Level Ground of Love” that we all stand on really does change our need for approval from others.

Freedom comes when God’s compassion for the human condition becomes our standard instead of our own self conscious assessment.

And the whole awkward business? It is uprooted when we shift off Self. Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone blows it. And NO one knows how to glide through this life thing without an occasional crash.  Therefore everyone can relate to the need for grace.

We need a bigger view. The pressure’s off. Just be you.  I’ll be me.  Let’s just laugh and love together and let go of the Kodak moment. We are more than a snapshot. We are more than just awkward.

Photo Credit by Salem Spicka

For The Wounded Ones in the Abortion Battle

Because I know you are out there…

I know that every time you even hear the words “pro life” or “abortion” or “pro choice” you get a pit in your stomach, or lump in your throat, or rush of fear, anger or regret in your heart.

Your worst fear is to be found out. Your deepest desire is to be forgiven, finally. You wrestle with what your parents, pastor, boyfriend, husband, friends said before and after your decision. Or what they would say if they only knew…

You replay the day. Over and over.

You flinch at babies. Or you long for a baby.

You can’t stop crying. Or you can’t stop raging.

You can’t stop hating yourself. Or the father, or person who pressured you, even if that person was you.

You can’t even think about heaven. Because what on earth will you say to your child?

And then there is God…how could he love you now?

Even churches act like your choice is too bad, too big for God’s mercy. Will God punish you forever?

Do Christians even care about the scared, trapped pregnant woman or just the baby?

Sisters (brothers), God’s grace is greater than all our sin. It truly does wash us white as snow. When we sing “Jesus paid it all” it means He paid for that day in the clinic as well.  Not partially, or conditionally, but it is completely covered by His redeeming love.

I pray you will have the courage to begin the journey to freedom.  One of the steps to my own healing was to talk about it. I had to open the door to let the shame and fear out but also to let His breath of cleansing freedom in. God led me to a grace-filled believers who really, really understood the Power of the cross. They spoke truth over me that Jesus came to save the world not to condemn it. (Thank you Nan Sprouse and Pat Gilley.) They cried with me. They grieved with me. They loved me with the eternal Love of Jesus.

Look at John 3:16-18 with fresh eyes:IMG_1318
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

The gospel of Jesus, His desire to make the world whole applies to  you. You are not disqualified. You are not cast out. You are not unlovable or unforgivable.

Truly, as the song says, “God renders miracles of our sin.”

For the wounded ones of the abortion battle…Your child is with God but you are still here with us. I pray that God will lead you to people that will love you into freedom.