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What Runs Through Your Mind When You Wake Up At Night?



Posted by on Jan 28, 2018 | 1 comment

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV


As We Think, So We Do

For years I’ve battled insomnia, trouble with both going to and staying asleep. Over the past six months I’ve seriously addressed it every way I know how–medically, physically, holistically, alternatively, and spiritually (prayers welcome), and while my sleep quality has improved slightly, it’s still an issue. It’s not a question of whether or not I’ll wake up between Bedtime and Rise and Shine, it’s how many times will I awaken.
On good nights I’m able to fall back to sleep relatively quickly, but the roughest nights have me tossing and turning for hours (yes, I know I should get up for a change of scenery, but apparently knowing what I should do doesn’t necessarily translate into doing it–a whole ‘nother post for another time.).

When I’m wide awake at two in the morning it usually goes like this:

  1. Relax and try to keep the dream you were just dreaming going, to fool yourself into thinking you’re still asleep.
  2. Get mad because you can’t even remember the dream, but you know it was a good one and you want to know how it ends.
  3. Become increasingly irritated that you’re awake.
  4. Decide to take advantage of being awake by praying for every person on your prayer list, and even a few more who come to mind…

and it is right about there my mind begins to wander off track (anyone relate…?).

Recently I’ve been convicted about the direction my thoughts were taking. A new series I discovered on Netflix offered a steady diet of…


Click here to continue reading As We Think, So We Do over at {in}courage today.
I think most of us can relate…

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When One Word Becomes Your Battle Cry #OneWord #OYTO



Posted by on Jan 25, 2018 | 16 comments

Are you a subscriber? If not, please do, and if you are already, thank you!

Do you believe in signs and wonders?


I do…I  believe in signs and wonders. Miracles. Divine timing and appointments. Circumstances, if not orchestrated at least permitted, by a great, great God who knows me better than I know myself, and loves me more than my little brain can comprehend.


He feels the same way about you, you know, regardless of your belief (or unbelief), despite your most grievous sin.


Signs…wonders…miracles aren’t necessarily showy or spectacular (like baby rainbows settling in your front yard). Wide open eyes and receptive hearts seem to find them in otherwise ordinary moments.

Photo by Alana Smith, the 10-year-old daughter of my friends Heather and Rich; a child with an amazing eye who saw the beauty of a single snowflake, and captured it that we, too, might See.


A new year is a dear thing to me. January just shouts possibility and potential.


Maybe it’s that joie de vivre heart of mine anticipating soon-to-be-written story. Maybe it’s the grace of a mulligan, a chance for a do-over, to get more things right than wrong. Blank slate, bare canvas, the beginning of a one-of-a-kind something, days not yet lived but already ordained.


I love a new year.


It should come as no surprise that I’m a resolutions gal. I don’t make it hard, though, there is no formal procedure.  No ominous list that will defeat me 12 days into the new year; more like a series of targets, beacons, touchstones inviting me to draw near.


For me, setting resolutions is as simple as living with greater intention. Don’t we all want to be the best version of ourselves? Shouldn’t we?


Resolutions are invitation to live fully and well.


Beyond my abstract, ethereal resolution-setting, I love to have One Word to mark my year, a word that serves as both anchor and aim. One Word to both ground me and give me wings. As days turn into weeks turn into months that make a year, I look over my shoulder while looking ahead to recalibrate, to make sure I’m on course. One Word helps me remember where I’m headed, what I want out of the priceless time I spend for each day.


Value of time increases with age.


It’s always fun to watch my One Word come into being; it’s a sacred thing, given by God. It’s a process of discovery for me, seeking and searching and setting my head and heart on otherworldly things. Kingdom come.


Or maybe that’s this year. Maybe this year I’ve received a word in light of the gospel, because this year, like never before I sense fresh wind. Fresh fire.


My God, it’s good.


Weeks ago, I thought my One Word was time. “Time” became A Thing for me last year, the first year I was acutely aware of and in conflict with my age and brevity of life. Grains of sand seemed to be slipping through the hourglass’s narrow neck at an incendiary rate, and there’s not a blasted thing you can do to slow it down.


Over Christmas this year, a conversation with my daughter rolled around to One Words for the new year, and I asked her to predict mine. “Jump!” she said without hesitation. She had good reason for her guess –


#TheRobin ~ Jumping in front of The Pursuit IS Happiness mural
by Sean Metcalf at Ponce City Market in Atlanta.


Because I have such high regard for Rachel, I began to toy with Jump! for my 2018 One Word. She didn’t know my interior stirrings, but I did, and “jump” fit..


Except that’s the thing about a One Word; it ain’t about making something fit. Anchor and aim…grounder and launcher. For me, I know it when I know it, and both time and jump ended in a question mark, not a period, or better yet – my favorite – the exclamation point.


My 2018 One Word arrived in an unusual package: a graphic tee shirt from The Loft, a Christmas gift from a dear friend. I didn’t see it at first, but when I knew, I knew it. 






\ öi-t? \ (rhyme with toy-toe)

Definition of oyto:

1. noun. One Year, Three-hundredSixty-five Opportunities.
2. verb.  Carpe diem. Seize the day. Looking for opportunity every day, and then acting on it.


One year = 12 months = 365 days = 8,760 hours = 525,600 minutes = 31,536,000 seconds.


There are a lot of opportunities for opportunity.


How many have we missed because we weren’t looking? I don’t want to miss any more.


Every day brings incredible opportunity, and it’s a question of wise stewardship to say yes to as many as possible. What I’m not saying is to crowd your plate so full you can’t taste a thing, what I am saying is to open your eyes to the gifts within reach every single day. Gifts that bless and encourage others, and that fill and feed your soul.


Every day we have opportunity to be ~
  • kind
  • generous
  • thoughtful
  • encouraging
  • friendly
  • honest
  • practical
  • reasonable.
  • loving
  • joyful
  • fair
  • faithful
  • patient

Every day you can make a difference in someone else’s life. Are you absorbing that? 


Every day you can make a difference in someone else’s life.


Increasingly, I’m coming to realize the most important daily opportunity is to seek God first in all things.  Also, for believers, every day we can be a reflection of Christ, maybe the only Jesus the people we meet will see on any given day. We get to live out the gospel in word and deed.


Sometimes opportunities are big and showy like new jobs or leading a small group or starting a non-profit. This year I’m posturing my heart and head to see and receive every opportunity set before me in light of the Kingdom. I do not want to miss a thing the Lord has for me.


One year, 365 opportunities. Every taken opportunity is opportunity to give glory to God. 




Oyto is my battle cry, a declaration of intentionality, a prayer to be faithful in small and big things. Oyto is how I long to live this year, day by day, minute by minute.


I sense God asking me to live an Oyto! life. And, I wonder if anyone wants to join me…as you’re reading this, is your spine tingling? Is there something in your spirit stirring, saying, “Yes! Me, too.”?


If so, be my Oyto sister. Let’s encourage one another, and be reminders of seeing the opportunity each day brings. Let’s not be mindless multi-taskers or bowing to the god of busyness.


Let’s be prayerful, thoughtful stewards of opportunity.


I’m not asking a soul to jump on my personal bandwagon; oyto certainly doesn’t need to be your One Word. But if it sounds like a word that invites your response, let me know. I’ll be in touch soon.



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Culinary Catastrophes (Why They’re Actually Good)



Posted by on Jan 10, 2018 | 2 comments


It occurred to me recently how there’s value in our mess-ups: they’ll often sear memory, and in the best of times they can point us to something magnificent.


Mess-ups…mistakes are hard to forget. The more public, the more memorable.

On a spiritual level, mistakes and failed effort point me back to my need for Christ. It’s really that simple. He already is what I will never be – perfect; and He has already accomplished what is impossible for me despite my best effort (all of us) – reconciled me to God.

My mess-ups (my sin) reveal my inadequacies in every area of my life, and because God has set eternity in the heart of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11a) – because He has set eternity in my heart, I want to be right with Him. If I were already perfect, why would I need the atoning, redeeming, complete work of Christ on the cross and beyond?

I have zero aspirations for perfection, but increasingly, I’m drawn to the perfection of Jesus. His ways were not ordinary and His model of perfection wasn’t tidy; he certainly didn’t behave the way a King would be expected. But He never wavered in His purpose while on earth, to serve and love and lead us in the way to light and life.

Beyond a spiritual, deeper consideration of mess-ups, can we agree that on a superficial level oopsies are awesome?


Isn’t this why we love America’s Funniest Home Videos, why we can’t get enough of our favorite TV show’s outtakes and blooper reels, why videos go viral?


When we blow it, we make fantastic memories. 

Because I love to cook and bake, some of my more memorable mess-ups occurred in the kitchen:

Like the time I made a peach pie for a friend going through chemo and I added salt to the pie dough. My flour was stored in a canister on the counter (not in a bag) and I didn’t realize it was self rising and already had salt. I had made two pies – one for my friend and one for us – so I realized the mistake with the first bite. I still remember Dan’s congenial thank you note: “…and thank you for the slightly saline peach pie….”  Trust me, there was nothing “slightly saline” about it. No doubt he appreciated the effort, and my “oops” made it all the more memorable.

And the time at Thanksgiving when most all my husband’s side of the family traveled hours to our home. To keep things simple, and because there were lots of cooks in our kitchen that day, I planned on using the glaze packet that came with our store-bought spiral ham (typically, I made my own glaze). However, apparently I couldn’t read that day, and I set our microwave for minutes instead of the seconds it recommended. We heard a small explosion coming from our laundry room (where the microwave lived), and the glaze had exploded inside, “baking” onto the oven’s interior. There was no cleaning or wiping or scraping off the sweet resin. We had to buy a new microwave.


But my worst “culinary catastrophe” happened years ago at a supper club with friends. I hope you’ll read The Dessert Disaster, a story I shared at Grace Table.

I doubly hope you’ll tell me about your own kitchen disaster.
Or, if you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear your stories
of how a personal mistake or mess-up pointed you to God.
DO comment here or there!!

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Our Beautiful Beginning



Posted by on Dec 29, 2017 | 1 comment


I want to push you, gently but sure.

Not in the way that bruises knees and pride but in the way a mama bird nudges her lovies out of the nest. She knows they’re capable of doing so much more, that they only need a little encouragement. Mama knows they’ll soon find out she wasn’t being mean after all, that she just wanted them to experience Great Things, Wide Open Spaces . . . and what they were designed to do.

And it hits me, that in this nudging, mothers share a kinship with God (though mamas push and God “pulls”). Isn’t it when we seek God and walk in obedience that we discover our calling and begin to live with passion and purpose?

It slays me to know I’m created in the image of God; I can barely think on it. I don’t think it’s possible to comprehend fully all it means.

If we’re called to be imitators of Christ, to look like the One whose image we bear, what does that mean? What are the first qualities that come to your mind? To love lavishly and without condition? To forgive freely even when you’ve been wronged? To serve sacrificially and to consider others’ preferences above your own?

There’s another attribute of God I’d like us to consider together: creativity.

Your potential to create.

God’s creative nature is revealed from the moment we open a Bible.


“In the beginning God created . . .” (Genesis 1:1)

Then, a few verses later, He describes the creation of man: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . ” and then how He fulfills it: “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God . . .” (Genesis 1:26-27). 

Because we’re created in the image of God Himself, we’re inherently creative. 


Our Beautiful Beginning continues at {in}courage.
I hope you’ll add your thoughts to the comment thread–
I can hear bravery and boldness stirring…. 🙂

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