Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When Others Have the Words

I sent my daughter to school on Monday with the sure knowledge that, should unspeakable evil threaten, the teachers and staff at her school would do everything humanly possible to protect her.

And more importantly, that my Abba remains sovereign over all.

But that doesn't mean I've got a handle on this.

I'm no theologian. I'm a mom. A mom who cried through the news coverage on Friday afternoon and again Friday evening after my precious ones were tucked into their beds.

I'm a mom who Does.Not.Understand.

And unless your faith is about as deep as the icing on the sugar cookies you like to decorate each year, Friday's horror should make you ask questions.

It is not a sign of weak faith to bury your face in your hands and ask God, "Why?" 

The Bible tells us in James that, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask Godwho gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him". Besides, God knows we don't understand, and faking it with Him makes about as much sense as going to Wal-mart on Christmas Eve.

That verse, interestingly enough, comes right after James tells us to count it all joy when we suffer. I think God knew we would struggle with this and wanted to make sure we knew we could always ask for help understanding the hard stuff. 

Thankfully, there are some incredible, Godly people out there who have shone light into the darkness. They've asked the hard questions and the answers are powerful.

The following is a brief list of some of the posts that have spoken to my heart over the past few days. They range from poignant to theologically profound.

As we celebrate the first coming of our Savior, my heart is longing for the second.
Even so, come quickly.

Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island ~ Goodbye Little Christmas Angels

The Write Conversation ~ Weekend Worship: Where Was God?

A Holy Experience ~ The Truth About Sandy Hook: Where is God When Bad Things Happen?

Radical ~ The Gospel and Newtown (this one's longer than the others, but there's some serious theology here)

If you've come across a post that spoke to you, feel free to share it in the comments.

Grace and peace,

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bigger Than Our Whole World

As I've been mulling over the idea of how big God is and the miracle it is that He became flesh, I've also been thinking about how often God does things in ways that are both unexpected and incomprehensible.

I'm wondering how often I don't see God's hand because what's happening doesn't make sense to me.

I'm wondering how much Joy I miss out on because instead of resting in His plan, I'm arguing with Him about His methods or pointing out to Him that what He's doing doesn't seem like a good idea.

I could go on and on about it, but Christmas is twelve days away and my guess is you don't have time for me to go on and on!

So instead I thought I'd leave you with one of my favorite passages from The Last Battle.

I love The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. (Please don't ask how many times I've read them - the answer is, "I have no idea and if we don't quit talking about it I'm going to have to start reading them again!")

At this point in the story, the characters have been fighting all around a small stable and are now inside.

Ponder this, and find the Joy!

"It seems, then," said Tirian, smiling himself, "that the Stable seen from within and the Stable seen from without are two different places."

"Yes," said the Lord Digory. "Its inside is bigger than its outside."

"Yes," said Queen Lucy. "In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world."
C.S. Lewis ~ The Last Battle
edited from the archives

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Don't Look Now...But My Halo is Crooked

Don't look now...but my halo is crooked.
I blame it on the hot glue.

I had no idea how dangerous it could be to use a hot glue gun—until I totally lost my religion making Jesse Tree ornaments.

All I wanted to do was create a visual—a way to teach my children the true meaning of Christmas. Plus, it’s such a Christian-y thing to do. It should go a long way toward establishing my credibility as a good Christian mom. Right?


All was going according to plan—until I put a dab of hot glue on the back of some shiny fabric and that fabric took on an evil life of its own.

Before I could say “drat”, the fabric curled up on itself, trapping three of my fingers in the mess of shimmer and glue, all the while inflicting what felt like third degree burns.

In that moment, I didn’t think, I didn’t pray. I yelled. 

I did not yell “drat!”

I slung that little whale tail down on the counter with another expletive (or two).

Because it hurt bad. And the fabric was so pretty, but I only had enough to make the one little tail. And I wanted it to look nice. And I thought I had ruined it—and that I might need a skin graft.

I really can’t explain it. I don’t talk that way. I don’t generally even think that way. But it’s obviously in me, because it didn’t just leak out, it flew out.

So much for establishing my “good Christian mom” creds.

The actual tiny whale tail ornament
I managed to get the little tail, now slightly wrinkled, on the ornament, and as I attached it to the wreath it hit me—this was the ornament that represents Jonah’s story. 

Jonah had a good thing going before the whole Ninevah fiasco. People looked up to him. After all, God spoke to him and back then, God didn’t just speak to anybody. Jonah’s “good prophet of God” reputation was secure.

Until God threw a little hot glue in his direction—the idea of preaching to the Ninevites burned him up. And then all that junk inside him spewed out and he ran as far and as fast as he could in the opposite direction of God’s will.

So God chased him down.

Because God had two plans at work. Sure, He wanted the people of Ninevah to repent. But He also wanted to expose the junk in His prophet’s heart at the same time.

God’s like that. He doesn’t wait on you to get it all together before He uses you. He’s big on using cracked pots to carry His message to a world full of people who don’t need perfect Christians setting some standard they can never hope to live up to.

They need real Christians who know they can’t measure up but who rest secure in the hope they have in Christ alone.

If you’re having a perfect holiday season, that’s great. Really. I’m happy for you (and not at all itching to lob a shatter-proof ornament in your direction and knock the halo right off your head. Nope. Not me).

But if your holiday has already run off the rails…if your kids don’t want to sit angelically and listen to Bible stories every night…if your Christmas tree looks more like Charlie Brown’s than Clark Griswold’s…if your plan to buy a water buffalo for a family in Asia instead of an iPad went over like Great Aunt Edna’s fruit cake…if you lost your halo in the toy department of Target...

Then join me in remembering that God does not care how perfectly you celebrate His birth.

He cares about what’s going on in your heart as you do.

And even when you blow it—spectacularly—He doesn’t condemn you. He chases you.

Because He loves you.

If you have a hard time believing that, maybe you need to remember what we’re celebrating.

When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7, ESV)

That’s not the message of a religion you can lose.

That’s the message of the Gospel that we need to proclaim to everyone—not that we have it all together, but that we have it all in Him.

Because 2000+ years ago, the Savior was born...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Currents ~ 12.08.12

Books: I’ve been reading all sorts of stuff. While on the cruise, I read Opening Moves by Steven James (excellent, as always), Trinity by Ronie Kendig (loved it), and The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (YA, fantasy, fun).

Writing: I’ve enjoyed getting back into the writing groove. My main characters in my WIP (work in progress) won’t shut up. And they are getting quite cozy. Love it when that happens!

Scripture: Our pastor challenged us a few weeks ago to read the book of Luke and the book of John before Christmas. I think I may be the only person in the church who decided to read John first.

Family: James is four and is really in to our Jesse Tree Ornaments. He’s clear that we celebrate Christmas because it is Jesus’ birthday, but he is very curious about “that Christmas guy” and how he gets in and out of houses. He seems to think this may be a little bit shady.

Home: I realized today that there are five Christmas trees in the house this year. Plus two on the front porch. I’m not exactly sure how that happened. (Actually, I do know how it happened—it’s called the “trees are 75% off at Wal-mart on the day after Christmas” effect).

Food: I’m baking for the holidays. The salted caramel pretzel bark currently holds the position of best new recipe this season.

Music: I waited until December 1st to really get into the Christmas music, but I’ve got it playing everywhere now. My iPod playlist is a mixture of Brian Setzer, Mannheim Steamroller, Mariah Carey, Harry Connick, Jr., and Michael Buble. I have George Winston’s December CD in my van, and the Christmas CD from our church, The Best Time of the Year, in the kitchen.

Movies: White Christmas for me. Christmas Vacation for Brian.

Wonders:  When you consider the miracle of the incarnation, it’s impossible not to be filled with wonder. It blows my mind and makes me feel small—not an inferior kind of small—a “what is man that You are mindful of him” kind of small.

Weirdness: I’ve been in Wal-mart several times so far this season. Need I say more?

May your weekend be filled with wonders and weirdness—especially wonders!

Grace and peace,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Joy in the Moment

I'm a wife, mother, and writer. I'm a daughter, sister, and friend. I'm a reader, knitter, and scrapbooker. I'm a cook, maid, and seamstress. I'm an engineer, manager, and bookkeeper.

With all that stuff going on, you'd think I'd be fulfilled.

Nope. Not even close. More often than not, I feel anxious. Desperate. Inadequate.
My task-oriented nature struggles to stay in the moment. To focus my energy on one thing, without mentally scrambling to determine the most efficient way to check off something else at the same time.
But by refusing to do one thing at a time, I'm not doing any one thing well.
And I'm robbing myself of so much joy.
Jim Elliot is quoted as saying, “Wherever you are, be all there.” I love that. I want that to characterize my life. I think it's another key to rediscovering joy.
Because something tells me that when Jesus took on humanity, He was an “all there” kind of guy. Would you care to guess what makes me think that?
Jesus spent nine months in a womb.
Have you ever thought of the challenge that must have been? To go from omnipresence to embryo. To grow inside a body You created.
But He did it. He was all there. All God. All man. All at the same time. All miraculously contained inside Mary's swelling body. The Word that spoke the world into existence limited Himself to baby babble. The hands that carved out oceans and piled high mountains were content to bang on a pot with a wooden spoon.

Wherever He was, He was all there.
And because He became Immanuel, God with us, we have Joy. True Joy. Not fleeting happiness. Not momentary pleasure.
Eternal Joy.
So as I stand in football field length store lines or sit in gridlocked mall traffic, instead of chafing at the limitations, I'm trying to practice being all there.
I'm not always successful, but when I am, I'm discovering there's so much Joy to be found in every moment.
So what about you? Do you feel up to a Christmas challenge?
This week, join me. Wherever you are, be all there. Wrapping presents? Be all there. At a party? Be all there. At a Christmas program when you still have Christmas baking, shopping, cleaning, and wrapping to do? Be all there.
I think you'll find Joy there.
And when you do, please come back and tell us about it.
edited from the archives

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Don't Forget to Slow Down

I’m no Scrooge. Far from it.

I’m a present shaking, Christmas music listening, holiday baking, 38-year-old wanna-be elf.

But even my twinkle light loving self has to admit that a part of me looks at the December calendar with more dread than delight.

There’s just so much to do! And so little of me to do it.

Which is why I have to slow down.

Yep. You read that right.

I didn’t say I needed a clone (which I do) or a housekeeper (yes, please!).

I need to slow down because God is going to keep throwing this idea in my face until I get it. He’s been really pushy about it for the past week.

It started while I was chatting with a friend. We were commiserating about how busy we both are and as we talked, I glanced at my Facebook page. Yes, that’s right. Now, don’t look like that. You know you do it to. It’s called multi-tasking and we’ve already established the fact that I’m very busy. :-)

Anyway, there, right smack in the middle of the page was the following post from Lysa TerKeurst.

Spending some time getting quiet this morning can really be the best remedy for tangled situations. Taking a step back from all the emotion, frustration, and exhaustion to sit quietly with Jesus will do more to untangle a mess than anything else I’ve ever found.

I read it to Sara and we were both struck by the truth in her words . . . and the harsh reality that neither of us had time to do what she was suggesting.

Then, on Sunday, our pastor stomped all over my busy little life when he reminded us that we do make time for what is a priority, and that nothing should be a bigger priority than time in the Word.

I had already made the connection that God was getting all up in my busyness when my four-year-old raced out of the church doors and ten feet later crashed in spectacular fashion. As he cried, I scooped him up and carried him to the van. When he calmed down I asked him what happened.

His response?

“I forgot to slow down!”

Out of the mouths of babes. All I could do was shake my head and say, “OK, Lord. Point made.”

So as the holiday season spins out in front of us, I’d like to challenge you with this.

Don’t forget to slow down.

Slow down long enough to read the book of Luke. Or John. (Or both!)

Slow down long enough to relish the Joy that is ours because a virgin conceived, and bore a son, and called His name Emmanuel.

Slow down long enough to remember the first tree and the the Ultimate Gift that hung on it.

Slow down long enough to revel in the love the God of the Universe has lavished on you.

This really is the best time of the year…let’s slow down long enough to enjoy it!

Now it’s your turn: How do you plan to slow down?

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Busy...Very Busy

You may have noticed that the blog has been a little quiet for the past couple of weeks.

I am sorry about that, but I've been busy.

First, it was the stomach bug that attacked every member of my family. I'll spare you the gory details.

But we recovered. I did laundry for a week.

And then...well...like I said, I've been busy.

Very busy.

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Out of the Boat should return to regular programming next week!

Grace and peace,

Friday, November 9, 2012


Placebo by Steven James
Placebo is the first book in Steven James' new series, The Jevin Banks Experience.

Jevin Banks is an illusionist with a successful stage show, a wife, and twin sons. Until tragedy lays him bare.

Placebo opens with a first chapter that is so painful to read, I kept having to remind myself that it wasn't real. The 2nd person voice enhances the agony. This experience is so vivid, so raw, that even the character living through it needs a way to distance himself.

Despite  the fact that we meet Jevin Banks at his lowest point, the story that unfolds is not depressing. And it is not a particularly gruesome story. Don't get me wrong, this is Steven James after all! His bad guys are creepy. But while I usually need to leave the lights on and only read his books when I'm in a safe place, Placebo's plot kept me turning pages well into the night and left me eager for the next experience.

I never give away the plot when I write a review, but here are a few teasers for you.

1. Placebo deals with quantum physics and entanglement theory, but you don't need a Ph.D. to follow the plot. If you ever read something you don't understand, don't worry. None of the characters in the story fully understand it either. That's the point. Just keep reading.

2. The secondary characters are awesome. We meet everyone from a conspiracy theorist with a thing for cheese to a brilliant computer security expert with a wandering eye. Trust me, you're going to love them.

3. The best fiction deals with questions that we all struggle with. Placebo asks some tough ones. How do we go on when people we love make horrible mistakes? What's the point of getting up in the morning? How powerful is prayer and does it really work?

4. The very best fiction asks tough questions and doesn't leave you depressed. Placebo is some of the very best fiction out there.

Get it. Read it. Experience it.

Available November 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The super fine print: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

You Know You're A Writer When...

It's November 1st. The day when writers all over the world flex their fingers and dive in to the wild and crazy ride that is NaNoWriMo.

In case you aren't familiar with that acronym it stands for National Novel Writing Month and the idea is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I've done it in the past but I'm not participating this year for two reasons.
1. I'm a little too far into my work-in-progress. (The rules state that you are supposed to start on Word Zero).
2. I'm going to be on vacation for a week. (I'm not interested in trying to squeeze in 50K in 21 days).

Since I'm not NaNo'ing this year, I decided to talk about the ways writers like to procrastinate. And believe me, writers procrastinate in all sorts of "writerly" ways.

I'm over at The Write Conversation today, with my "You Know You're A Writer When You Procrastinate By...." thoughts. I'd love it if you'd come over and say Hi. (And leave us your favorite way to procrastinate in the comments!)

Sneak Peek: Check back here next Thursday for my review of Placebo by Steven James!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Shelves waiting to be filled.
First, an update on Addie Reese. Her recovery has been nothing short of miraculous! She is currently on a rehab floor at the hospital in Charlotte, and they are already talking about outpatient therapies for her when she comes home. Thank you for praying for this sweet little girl and her family!

Second, you may or may not have noticed that the past few blog posts have come "from the archives." I decided to take a few weeks off and pull older posts so I could focus on getting some things done around my home.

Boring things like laundry and cleaning out closets.
And fun things...like bookshelves! My dad outdid himself. I knew they would be awesome...I had no idea how awesome! (For those of you who don't know, my dad can build anything!)

Way back in 1815, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Adams that included this phrase . . .
"I cannot live without books."

All the books-finally out of boxes.
I understand that. Since we moved in March 2011, the vast majority of my books have been in boxes in my formal dining room. Over the past 18 months, I have opened every single box as I've searched for specific friends. And yes, I do think of my books as friends.

They have been my companions when human friends were few and far between, my escape from reality when life has pressed in hard, and my teachers on subjects that vary from theology to musicals.

My favorite spot!
I've missed my friends. And there's something very satisfying about having them out where I can see and touch them. Their presence has already made this once unused space into my favorite room in our home.

Now, they wait for a new friend. I don't know how long they'll have to wait, but I'm confident that someday, they'll be joined by a book that has my name on it!

It's your turn...what's your favorite book, series, author? I have four empty shelves that need to be filled!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Prayers for Addie Reese

I had something else planned for today, but it can wait.

Today, I would like to ask you to take the time you would normally spend reading this post to pray for Addie Reese and her family.

Addie Reese is the 7-year-old daughter of my friend Alexis. She fell from a tree on Saturday and cracked her skull. So far, all the scans have been promising, and she has spoken and even tried to sit up, but she has still not fully wakened. Whenever they back off of the sedation, she's in so much pain they have to give her something that knocks her back out.

My mother's heart is broken for my friend. I cannot imagine a harder path to walk than one that leaves you watching your own child suffer.

So please join me in praying for pain relief and full healing for Addie Reese. For comfort and a strong sense of God's presence for Alexis and Nick and the entire family. And for wisdom and discernment for the doctors and nurses caring for Addie Reese.

Abba - I do not understand. But I know that You do. I know that You have experienced the agony of watching a child suffer and I know that You alone have the power to comfort, to speak peace to their hearts, to ease Addie Reese's pain, to give clarity and insight to the physicians and nurses, and to bring something beautiful out of this. I do not understand, but I trust You.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Books: Finished The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller. This should be required reading for everyone—single, dating, married—doesn’t matter. Amazing Biblical insights. (Available through the Greenville County Library system…just sayin’).

Writing: I terrorized a mall full of children this week. I’m not sure what I think of myself right now! (Disclaimer: No real children were frightened in the creation of this plot line.)

Family: My dad has been here this week building my bookshelves! He’s awesome!

Home: The bookshelves! Finally, my books can be released from their cardboard box prisons and breathe the free air again!

Food: My husband recently obtained a charcoal grill. Our gas grill may never be used again. The chicken he fixed earlier this week was A.MAZ.ING!

TV: I know politics matter. I have very strong opinions on the subject of who our next president should be. But I cannot bear to watch the debates. I try, but after a few minutes I find myself wanting to throw things at the screen.

Wonders: Are you familiar with the wonder that is the Monkey Hook? These things will change your life. No screws, no half-inch size holes in your dry wall. No hammers or drills. Just a tiny bit of pressure, a little twist, and you’ve hung a picture. No wall is safe from me now!

Weirdness: Um, see Wonders! :-)

May your weekend be filled with wonders and weirdness!
Grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Detailed Directions? Not exactly...

I like detailed directions.

Extremely detailed.

If you ever need directions to my house, I don’t just say turn left on this street and right on that one. Oh no. I include important information such as “Approximately 8/10 of a mile after you turn left you’ll come to a curve that makes you feel like you should put your turn signal on. The curve is 1/10 of a mile from your next right turn.”

People love my directions.

Okay. Actually, they laugh hysterically when the read them, but the reality is, if I give you directions, you are not going to get lost. At least, not if you follow them.

This need for detailed direction is probably why I struggle with Psalm 119:105.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

I learned the verse as a child and my mental picture involved an enormous spotlight shining its powerful beam a good 100 yards down the path.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Oil lamps don’t give off that much light. We’re talking about just enough light to avoid stubbing your toe on a root or slamming into a boulder.

And this frustrates me.

After all, God is quite capable of giving detailed directions.

Have you seen the book of Leviticus? I mean honestly. Talk about details. (I like to think I get my detail issues from the Almighty—it’s nicer than admitting to being a bit OCD).

And talk about lighting a path. This is the God of the Shekinah glory cloud and the pillar of fire. God knows how to light up a path when He wants to.

And yet . . .

He seems to prefer to give me just enough information to take the next step.

No more. No less.

You can’t race along a path with that little bit of light. Each step must be measured. Each foot placement considered. You have to be on your guard at all times. And you have to have faith that the destination is worth the harrowing journey.

Of course, my faith is what’s at issue.

I have to trust that the One who lights my path, knows my path.

So I continue to step out, never knowing what’s next, but knowing He does.
from the archives

Friday, October 12, 2012

When A Heart Stops

When A Heart Stops
Book 2 in the Deadly Reunions Series

Back in May of 2011, I reviewed Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason. It was the first in the 3-book Women of Justice series and all three were excellent. Then, I eagerly read When the Smoke Clears—the first book in Lynette’s new Deadly Reunions series—as soon as it became available. (You can read my review here).
So you can imagine how excited I was when I realized that the second book in the series, When A Heart Stops, is about Serena Hopkins. You see, I met Serena back in Lynette’s first series and I love it when a secondary character winds up having a story of their own.
And Serena’s story will have your heart racing. From page one.
In her job as medical examiner, Serena Hopkins sees death on a daily basis. But when former classmates start turning up dead, it becomes clear that someone is sending a message. And that she may be next.
FBI Agent Dominic Allen has known Serena since she was a little girl playing with his sister (Alexia from When the Smoke Clears). But Serena is all grown up and Dominic would love to get to know her better. Before he can see if there's a chance for them to be more than friends, he’s going to have to find the serial killer who plans to make her the next victim.
Lynette ratcheted up the shiver factor for this one! The opening pages are intense and the serial killer is a long way past creepy.
When The Smoke Clears
Book 1 in the Deadly Reunions Series
As I’ve come to expect from Lynette, the story never ends quite the way I think it will. I had a pretty good idea who the bad guy was…but there was a twist!
Now, one word of warning. The Deadly Reunions series has a continuing suspense thread that has not been resolved. This doesn't bother me one bit! I love it when a series answers most of my questions and leaves me hanging...just a little!
But, If you haven’t read When the Smoke Clears, it will be tricky to follow the nuances of the plot in When A Heart Stops. If you have read When the Smoke Clears, you might want to take five minutes to refresh your memory about the key players and the drama that surrounds Alexia, Serena, and Jillian.
Then, turn on all the lights, lock all the doors, and dive into When A Heart Stops. You'll be glad you did. And you'll be just like me...anxiously waiting for Book 3!
Special Note:
For those of you who live in the Greenville, SC area—Lynette will be signing copies of When A Heart Stops at the Lifeway store on Haywood Rd. Saturday, October 20th from 1-3pm. You won’t want to miss it!
The super fine print: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not obligated to provide a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Hardwood Heart

I hate carpet for one reason.

You can't clean it. You can get most of the spots out. But they'll come back.

Because they weren't ever really gone.

And that's why I love the hardwood floors in my house.

Herds of small children can run around carrying cups of purple grape juice and I don't care.
Babies can leak. I don't care.
Adults can drop pizza, toppings down. I don't care.

Because when handfuls of potato chips are crushed by tiny tootsies, it's no big deal. A broom, maybe the mop. And, voila! Clean floors.

But—I have discovered one problem with my floors.

While the epic spills are easy to clean, the day-to-day droplets of life are a little trickier.

I can dust, sweep, and mop every square inch of my downstairs, and then the light streams through a window and I see it . . . a streak a foot long.

How did I miss it?

I've learned over the past few months that I have to clean my floors during the middle of a sunny day. I open all the blinds, and if you could see me you'd think I was setting up a putt at the Master's. I walk around my living room, squatting down, leaning from side to side, checking the angles.

I haven't lost my mind.

I'm looking for the spots.

I have to hunt them down. And once the light shines on them, I attack.

But no matter how thorough I try to be, I always find more spots.

As I was tackling one of these random spots with a damp paper towel, I thought about how easy it is for me to see the spots in other people's lives. Their judgmental nature. Their negativity. Their harsh spirit. Their sin.

But until the Light shines on their spots, they can't see them.

It dawned on me that in most cases, instead of nagging, I need to be praying. I need to leave the light shining up to The Light. When He's ready to shine His Light on a spot, He'll do it.

Very spiritual of me, huh?


I'm embarrassed to tell you that I had mulled this idea over for a couple of weeks before it occurred to me that maybe—just maybe—there might be spots in MY life that I can't see. That maybe instead of worrying about the obvious spots of others, I ought to be praying for the Light to shine on my own spots.

It's easy for me to see the big spots of my epic failures.

But the spots that build up over the course of the day—the bad attitudes, the pride, the selfishness, the unkind words—are harder to see and so much easier to ignore. I could spend a lifetime trying in my own strength to make myself shiny and spot-free.

But I've realized that my heart is just like my floor.

It can only be cleaned in the bright Light of the Son.

Psalm 51:10 ~ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (ESV)

(edited from the archives)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Life with Lily

I recently had the opportunity to take part in a unique blog tour. Instead of reviewing the book myself, I could ask a friend to read and review Life with Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher.

I knew exactly who I would ask—my dear friend, Emily. Emily is an avid reader and a fabulous writer and she graciously agreed to read Life with Lily and share her thoughts with us.
I’m thrilled to welcome Emily to Out of the Boat.

 Life with Lily is the perfect book for an 8-9 year old girl. It is very fun to read. The story is set on an Amish farm named Singing Tree Farm. Lily Lapp is a 6-year -old Amish girl who is very bright and mischievous.

     I enjoyed the book because every chapter was a fun new adventure. Lily's parents were a lot more strict than most English parents. Sitting in church or collecting eggs the Amish way were very difficult to do for Lily.

     The only thing I did not like about the book was when Lily would get in trouble.

     I would recommend this book as a family read aloud. This is a great book especially if you enjoy the Little House Series or American girl Kirsten and Felicity books.

Emily is 10 years old and in the 5th grade. She plays the piano and loves to read. She enjoys spending time with friends and singing in the choir at church. She plays basketball, makes crafts, and loves to bake. Emily loves science and math. She also loves anything the outdoors has to offer—hiking, swimming, catching bugs, riding bikes or just running.

Lynn here: Thank you Emily! Great job!!

Life with Lily is the first in the new Adventures of Lily Lapp series for children. This story of a spunky young Amish girl will introduce kids to the gentle life of the Amish people. The book is based on the true childhood of Mary Ann Kinsinger, who is co-authoring the series with beloved Amish novelist Suzanne Woods Fisher.

Life with Lily—Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Hosea 10:12~ Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. (ESV)

I hesitated to post this today for two reasons.

1. It’s such a First World Problem. Are you familiar with this concept? The Urban Dictionary defines it this way…Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at. You’ll see what I mean as I go on.

2. It’s too fresh. In general, while I may start writing about something as it is happening, I usually wait to post it until it’s had a cooling off period. Not this time. I’m living this today. But, it won’t leave me alone, so maybe someone else needs it. Today.


I’ve been waiting eighteen months to do this. To finally take our house—which currently looks like a lovely place that we just moved our stuff into—and turn it into our home.

A home with furniture that goes in the space and art that means something to us. A home where my books line the walls in bookshelves built by my dad. A home that reflects who we are as a family.

I’ve been waiting eighteen months to really make this ours.

It’s happening!

There are rugs, cool lamps, a great mirror, new furniture, and eleven patches of different paint colors in the dining room and bathroom. It’s fabulous.

And it’s driving me insane.

(First World Problem: losing my mind over what color to paint one of my four—that’s right, I said four—bathrooms).

By Sunday evening, my mood had tanked. The rugs don’t match anything—yet. And what kind of sick madman decided there should be fifteen different shades of pale blue gray? How am I supposed to pick one?

(First World Problem: Redecorating the formal dining room—yeah, a space with a table and eight chairs that we use about once a month—is giving me a migraine).

I know some people thrive in this environment. People like my decorator—who is awesome and is having a great time and isn’t the slightest bit rattled by the fact that the rug may have too much blue in it.

I am not one of those people. I don’t like change. I don’t like disorder.

I do not like being unsettled.

I don’t want the old. I do want the new.

But I don’t want to live through the messy transformation.

Of course, this isn’t just about redecorating the interior of my house.

It’s about redecorating the interior of me.

God “moved in” a long time ago. Salvation made me a new creation (justification). The old passed away and the new came!

But the renovation process (sanctification) is a messy one. Sometimes God strips away my wallpaper, pulling away ugliness so He can replace it with something beautiful.

Sometimes God builds in something new. Where there once was a blank place, He adds something of character and distinction.

He’s the ultimate Interior Decorator turning me into a showpiece for His glory.

Truth is, I say I want it, but I don’t like it. I know I’m not perfect. But changing is messy and time consuming. It’s embarrassing to have my imperfections put on display or to realize that some piece of me that I’ve been okay with has been an eyesore for a decade.

I don’t like to be unsettled, but that’s exactly what God is asking me to be. In my home and in my life, He’s breaking up the old and planting something new. There are parts of me that haven’t been touched in a while and He’s not going to leave them alone.

I’m His. And He wants my life to reflect who He is.

He wants the same for you.

It’s time to break up the fallow ground.

It’s time for something new.

Will you let Him redecorate your world? Will you let Him expose your weaknesses and replace your ugliness with something beautiful?

He’s ready.

Are you?

Isaiah 43:19a ~ Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (ESV)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Intentional Have You Been Lately?

How intentional have you been lately?

I’ve been hit-or-miss.

Mostly miss.

Which is a shame, since INTENTIONAL is my word for the year.

As we discussed last week, there are a lot of areas in my life where I feel like I’m wandering. Housework, motherhood, writing, etc. And as we discussed, not all wandering is bad. Sometimes, wandering is the direct will of God.

But some of my wandering is not as out-of-my-hands as I pretend that it is.

Sometimes I’m just lazy or distracted.

I want to read a book, watch TV, or chat with a friend. All nice things. Just not always the best choice.

Of course, this is where the slope gets slippery.

At least it does for me.

I can easily be so attached to my schedule that I blow a gasket whenever the day goes off in an unexpected direction.

But, at the same time, having no plan at all often results in days, weeks, or months where I go through the motions of life but make little or no progress toward achieving the dreams I believe God has placed in my heart.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt this tension in my spirit—as if I’m inching along the edge of a deep chasm. I’m trying to figure out how to balance my need for order and structure with my desire to live each day—each moment—submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I’m planning and scheduling and even (gasp!) outlining (for my writing). I’m writing Bible verses on my calendar and posting reminders to myself to lean into the Spirit rather than on my own understanding of how each day should go. I’m making some progress.

But I know I have a long way to go.

So I want to ask you—how do you do it? If you’re a planner, what tips can you share for not making your schedule into an idol? If you fly by the seat of your pants, how do you ensure that the most important things get done? I’d love to learn from you! Please share with all of us in the comments!

Proverbs 16:9 ~ The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (ESV)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Currents :: 09.22.12

Books: All things Tolkien. September 22 is the birthday of both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. I think we should all eat at least eight times today to celebrate. Who’s with me?

Writing: I just discovered that my heroine is an engineer. I thought she was a lawyer. Sigh.

Home: We’re doing some redecorating at our house. By “we” I mean I’ve found someone with impeccable tastes to tell me what looks good and then I’m buying it. It’s going great :-)!

Food: I made grits out of cauliflower. And they were good. Pretty sure I’ve lost my mind. Or maybe had my tastebuds taken over by an alien life force.

Movies: (See note above about books). Can’t wait for The Hobbit. Which is unfortunate…it doesn’t come out until December.

TV: Clemson vs. Florida State. 8PM. Need I say more?

Wonders: Emma has joined the Drama Club at school (those of you who know her can appreciate how appropriate this is). This week, I met some of the sweet things who have taken her under their wing—a group of adorable girls who were quick to tell me that Emma had “done great” and is “so sweet” and had fully participated! My little “Emma bug” never ceases to amaze me.

Weirdness: I’ve been watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy in honor of Hobbit Day (Sept. 22). Pretty sure that will earn me a gold star for my nerd wall. :-)

May your weekend be filled with wonders and weirdness!

Grace and peace,


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

I’m a wanderer.
I feel like I’m wandering in my own personal desert. Walking in circles. Retracing my steps. But never getting anywhere.

I wander in my home. I had all the laundry caught up a few days ago. And I get to do it all over again today. I fixed supper last night. And I get to do it all over again today.

I wander as a mother. Didn’t I just address this attitude issue? How many times am I going to eye my children with that universal look that says, “You’d better say thank you or you’ll never taste another piece of candy?” How many diapers will I change before I suffer from permanent olfactory nerve damage?

I wander in my writing. I’ve written a book. Did you know that? I have. A whole novel. I didn’t know it at the time, but writing that novel sent me wandering into the dark forests of publication. It’s fun. Except for when it’s not. Like when you realize that all the writing you’ve done for the past six months will never see the light of day.

I don’t like to wander.

I have plans and dreams and it frustrates aggravates drives me insane when things don’t happen the way I think they should. Wandering feels like such a waste—of time, energy, and resources.

It feels like I’ve dropped the ball. It feels like I’m lost.

But “not all those who wander are lost.”

Take Joseph. In Genesis, he’s dreamed some big dreams. And he’s got plans. So when his father sends him in search of his brothers, he sets off with purpose. He knows where he’s going. He’s going to Shechem.

But his brothers aren’t there and Joseph wanders around in a field for a while before someone tells him they are in Dothan. (I am not making this up—you can read it for yourself in Genesis).

It’s a tiny detail. The kind of thing an editor might cut from the story. But God left it in.

He left in the part about the wandering.

You know the rest of the story, don’t you? When Joseph found his brothers, they decided to kill him—and they would have if his big brother hadn’t convinced them to throw him in a pit instead. And then, some Midianite traders show up and Joseph is sold as a slave in Egypt which turns out to be a crucial point in God’s redemptive plan for His children.

What are the odds of those Midianite traders showing up at that exact moment? And what if Joseph hadn’t wandered around for a while before heading out to Dothan?

That wandering? It saved Joseph’s life. And it saved the children of Israel.

Joseph may have been wandering, but he most certainly was never lost.

Sometimes God gives us big dreams…big plans…big hopes for the future. And then He lets us wander around for a while.

Not because He’s mean. But because He’s maneuvering all the pieces into position so He can do something even bigger than what we could imagine.

If you’re wandering, don’t despair, don’t panic, and most definitely do not give up. Who knows? Someday when the story of your life is written, this little "wandering" detail may be the one no editor would dare to cut.

I am indebted to the Bible study we are currently doing at Southside Fellowship, Read the Bible for Life, where the beauty of this part of the story was highlighted.

And in case you are unfamiliar with it, the quote is from The Fellowship of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien...

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.”