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devotional, Faith

The Letters

Can you do the line below that?



“Okay, go ahead and read it.”

I held the black patch-stick in front of my eye and cleared my throat.

“Umm, X? Could be an M.” I squinted desperately.

“Please don’t squint.”

I bit my lip.

She knew I was on the verge of tears, so she tried to rescue me.

“Let’s just try the line above, hon. It’s okay if you can’t see it.”

No, it’s not okay.

I breathed in slowly and removed the stick.

“I can’t see it. I can’t see any of them.”

Moments of weakness have a way of reminding you that weakness isn’t momentary.

I closed my eyes and let the tears burn through my makeup.

Quite simply, I don’t do well with need.

I didn’t want to need thicker lenses, stronger contacts, more help doing what I feel like I should be able to do on my own.

“I’m sorry.” I mumbled.

“It’s okay, sweetie.” She smiled. “Believe it or not, you’re not the first one I’ve had that didn’t want to admit she couldn’t see.”

I nodded in gratitude for the way she spoke.

Though she was talking to a twenty-something girl, it was the sixth-grader in me that heard her.

For ten minutes I had played with the patch of tape covering a gap in my school bus seat. I peeled it back and forth, trying to come up with the right words. I gave up and went with the obvious.

“Will you sign my yearbook?” The hot bus bumped along, the sound of last day cheers spilling out of the half-open windows.

“Sure, Angela.” She smiled.

She was, without question, the prettiest girl I knew. And the way I saw it, her name in my book meant I was someone important.

She wrote for a few seconds, closed it, and handed it over the green pleather seat to me.

“Thanks so much.” I turned around and slid it into my backpack, smiling from ear to ear.

It was a new day.

When I got home, I ran to my room and ripped it out, eager to see the stamp of approval .

“I hope you find your spektacles.”

I stared at the letters, tried to rearrange them into something that looked like kindness, but I couldn’t. The grammar nerd in me was as offended as the unpopular girl.

“It’s a c.” I muttered out loud.

I had argued with my mother that morning, and in the end, convinced her that I didn’t need them that day. I could make it one day without my stupid glasses.

I had bumped, knocked-into, and squinted my way through 7 periods just to say I wasn’t bound to them. In the cafeteria, several girls asked me where my glasses were and I lied. I said I had lost them.

I knew they were perched on my white-wicker nightstand, alongside an issue of “Teen Bop” and a collection of safety pins I had been beading for kids who wouldn’t give me the time of day.

Need feels like an ugly crutch.

“Angela? Are you ready to try again?” I shook my head, awakening from my thoughts. She was the nicest optometrist I had ever broken down in front of.

“It’s Angie.” I mumbled. “I don’t go by Angela anymore.” I smiled at her, my eyes thanking her while I wiped my cheeks dry.

As expected, my eyesight had gotten considerably worse. She walked me through the options, and I heard a couple words- “featherweight….astigmatism….new line of lenses…”

I thanked her and took my prescription, explaining that I would come back another day to choose them.

Ridiculous, really.

I couldn’t see.

It was in my genes, not my choices.

I had a conversation recently with someone I care about, and I walked away knowing we didn’t see eye to eye about the role of Christ in our lives.

Chalk it up to science, to intellect, to anything that makes it seem like He’s on the periphery, and it’s hard to argue.

Logic and love are so often at odds.

“He’s failed me, Angie. I’ve only prayed for a couple things in the last five years, and every one of them went the wrong way.” He went into detail, and yes, I could see that it felt upside-down.

You should know, I love the Lord.

But I freeze in these situations.

I think the counselor in me wants to agree and affirm and nod and sympathize and wage war against the injustice, but I don’t share the way I should. I don’t tell him that later that night I cried on his behalf. As I prayed for him, I kept seeing the words, “He can’t see…he can’t see…”

Underneath his reasoning and his words I saw myself, feet dangling and heart racing.

Yes, I can read it…

I don’t need this. It’s just another solution in a string of solutions that never make me whole. They just make me different. They make me reliant. They don’t really fix it at all.

Try the one above…

That’s what I really wanted to say, if the words would have come.

Don’t squint, friend. I’m on your side.

The best thing you can do is admit that you can’t see a foot in front of your face without this. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you brave.

I would have held his hand, smiled at him, and taken away the letters completely.

It isn’t a test.

You aren’t failing.

It’s just that you can’t get well until you see that you aren’t.

It’s in your genes. 

You’ve lived your life stumbling and blind, unaware of the beauty all around you.

And why?

Because the bus bumps along.

The wind is hardly a relief anymore.

It tastes like regret and whips you with lies.

This will make you vulnerable, it says…

I want to be home, in my safe room, where the pen marks don’t scratch their way to my heart.

But we aren’t there yet.

And in the meantime, there is life to be seen. It’s magnificent, actually.

Hush, I would have said.

And he would have slipped them on and wept because what I said was true.

I want you to see it, too.

Whoever you are, and for whatever reason you stumbled here today- know this.

It wasn’t by accident, or by chance.

It was the hand of a watching God, who loves you in all of your blindness.

The leaves are changing just outside my window, and I can’t help but wish you were here with me.

I would hold your hands, wipe your cheeks, and tell you that you haven’t missed the best part. I would celebrate with you as the trees sing gold and glory, and we would wait together.

It’s a new day, after all.

Jesus, help us to see what we are without You, and when we have…

Let us have all of You.










devotional, Faith


You didn’t think I would forget about our protagonist, Peter, did you? Never!

Okay, let’s go back to the scene. Annnnnd, cue.

Peter is fishing, but he isn’t having much luck. He hasn’t caught anything and neither has a single one of his companions. As dawn breaks on a new day, they hear a voice that they don’t seem to recognize right away.

“Children, do you have any fish?” (John 21:5, ESV)

Let’s back up the truck for a second. The first thing that strikes me is that He calls them “children.” Again, I’m not sure that the intention was to make readers smile, but I can’t help myself. I picture them out on the boat after a long night of unsuccessful fishing, and all of a sudden they hear a voice saying, “hey kiddos!” Although the NIV translation of the Bible uses the word “friend,” I think the ESV’s version is more accurate.

They tell the stranger they don’t have any fish and He suggests that they cast their nets on the right side of the boat instead. When they obey, they cannot even pull the nets onto the boat because of how heavy with fish they are. As soon as this happens, John shouts, “It is the Lord!”

When Peter hears this, he puts on an outer garment (evidently he was fishing in a less than appropriate outfit for greeting the Lord), and then?

“…he threw himself into the sea.” (John 21:7)


Threw himself? Into the sea that had almost killed him?

Oh be still my heart. I love the imagery.

While the other disciples took the boat, dragging their load of fish, Peter jumped headfirst to get to Jesus. To be honest, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. How spectacular that moment must have been! Think about the way it came together to reveal the heart of God to all of us.

1. He was fishing, just as he had been when he met Jesus.

2. Jesus called to him, and he came immediately.

3. He threw himself into the water because he had firsthand experience with a God Who knew exactly how to pull him out, should he need help.

Isn’t it the same for us? Once we have seen the power of Jesus, we are much more likely to jump. Forget the fish and the nets. Who needs a boat? He’s here, and I’m going to get to Him now. The Greek word used here for “threw” means, “to give over to one’s care uncertain about the result.”

Immediately, he gives himself over to the One who saves him. Not only from the sea, but in order to preserve his soul for eternity. Wow.

And you know what? It makes me want to throw myself into the sea over an over again. Whatever it takes to get to the shore. Not because it’s safe.

But because He is there.

Although somewhere in the back of my mind, even though I know He’s there, I wonder about something else. What if He doesn’t receive me when I get to Him?

Do you ever feel like you crossed an invisible line in the sand? That you have finally pushed so hard that He’s just flat given up on you?

Remember at this point that Peter hasn’t seen (to our knowledge) Christ since the time of his denial. I wonder if he ever felt worried about what Christ would say to him?

Scripture says that when they got on land, there was a fire burning. I have a feeling this is just the way my mind works, but I want to know who made it. I mean, they were in the boat all night, so it wasn’t them. Are we to presume it was the Lord? I think He did, and I’m going to tell you why I think it might have happened that way.

The Lord asks Peter to go get the fish from the boat so they can cook them. He obeys. They eat their breakfast and when they are finished, Jesus turns His attention to Peter.

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”


“Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”


“Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

“Do you love me?”


“Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Why does Jesus ask Peter three times whether he loves Him? In one commentary I read, the author said it was the Lord’s way of forgiving Peter-once for each time Peter had denied Him. If that is the case, then I want to point out something that I find really interesting.

Here is the section of Scripture where Peter denies Christ:

“Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.” (Luke 22:54-55)

Waiiittttt a minute. A fire?!?!?!

Now that sounds familiar, huh? I think it’s entirely plausible that the Lord’s usage of fire in the latter example was to remind Peter of the night he had sinned against Him. Not because He wanted him to suffer and cower to his shame, but because He wanted to restore him in an unmistakable way.  Fire is used in the Bible to represent God and purification…how beautifully appropriate.

I think Jesus likes to set a familiar table (Okay, you fish and I’ll call out to you. Then, there will be some fish and a fire. I’m going to remind you that I’m the God of healing and restoration, and then you’re going to go and get some real fish. Men. And you’re going to tell them exactly what I did for you, because you know what it feels like to dive in, chase after me, and be forgiven.) and then invite us to dine on His spectacular grace time and time again.

Do you think you have sinned one time too many?

He says it isn’t so, love.

Do you remember the way the water felt when you couldn’t breathe and you were all arms reaching and breath gasping? And do you remember when I pulled you out?

He didn’t come to save us from the water. He came to baptize us with His mercy. 

And our job is to throw ourselves into the water in obedience.

He asks me over and over if I love Him, and as my lips say “yes,” He calls me to be a fisher of men. To feed His sheep. To remember the night He restored me and called me His own, despite my sin and my regrets. It’s almost too much to bear. Who, Lord? Who am I to deserve another fire?

Here is what I would love for you to consider alongside me today. Has any part of your sin kept you from the cross? Has there been an opportunity for Satan to whisper to you and tell you that you’ve gone one step too far and that you can’t possibly be restored?

This isn’t the way the Lord sees you, friend.

His desire is for you to dive deep into the water. Leave your nets as many times as He asks you to and run where He calls you. In that place, you will be healed. And when you have been, I daresay you will have a story that is begging to be told.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus…” (Acts 4:13)

Be bold, sisters.






devotional, Faith


He had just cast his net into the sea when he heard a voice.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

He didn’t know the voice, but something about it must have compelled him, because he dropped his net immediately and followed the stranger.

Of all people in Scripture, I think I relate the most to Peter. He loves deeply, intensely, and with tremendous devotion.

But sometimes he says the wrong thing.

Okay, more than sometimes.

In any case, I think the word “immediately” used to describe his reaction to Christ could categorize a good bit of his thinking. He’s sort of clumsily “all-in” with his love.

He is the first of the disciples to pipe up when Jesus asks the disciples if they know who He is, and I imagine him responding a little like me as an eager middle-schooler, hand raised and ready to be praised for my answer. He’s impetuous, but he means well. Gold star, Peter.

One day I want to write a book on his life, because I feel so emotionally charged when I read about him. There are so many details that stir me to tears, because I feel like I’m there with him in it all.

In the water, net in hand.

I heard Him and I dropped what I had been clinging to, even though it was all I knew at the time. I really didn’t spend a lot of time worrying what I was going to do next, or where He was taking me. I’m either “all-in” or “not at all” myself.

Have you ever read the Bible and chuckled to yourself? I assure you, there is humor there if you allow yourself to imagine it. God is the Author of humor, and I genuinely believe He snuck in a few good one-liners for all of us who appreciate wit and timing (hand raised. Gold star, Angie).

At the Last Supper, Jesus tells the disciples He is going to wash their feet. It’s clearly a sacred and holy moment, and as He approaches Peter, Peter resists Him. He tells Jesus that He will never wash his feet (notice the use of the word “never.” We extremists like to jump there. You know, like, immediately.) I presume this statement was accompanied by head-shaking or some other physical motion to emphasize that it wasn’t going to happen. This was Jesus! The Son of God certainly didn’t need to be washing anyone’s feet. Peter saw that, and spoke up. Never. Never. NEVER. As in, not ever. Not now, not in a million years. It isn’t happening.

Well, Jesus responds to Him in approximately ten words and the next thing we hear Peter say is:

“Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:9)

Umm, okay. So maybe never was a little bit strong. And now that I’ve had a few seconds to reconsider, let’s go ahead and do the whole shebang, huh? Why stop with the feet? If you want this to happen I’ll grab some shampoo and body wash and we’ll call it a day.

Sweet Peter. He goes from “never” to “head-to-toe” faster than most people can tie their shoelaces.

I get it. I mean, I totally, completely get it (totally, completely. Not that I’m extreme.)

If you heard my Women of Faith talk this year, you will already know one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible, and it involves Peter. If you want to read it, it happens in Matthew 14. The short version is that Jesus tells Peter to walk on water and he steps out of the boat in faith. Wouldn’t you just figure he was the one who called out to Jesus and then climbed into the impossible?

He does okay for a little bit. Step by step he gets closer to the Lord.

But then he realizes the waves are huge, and he doubts. He starts to drown.

Yep. Been there.

I’m going to skip some of my favorite details for the sake of brevity (and because I really do want to write a book and I think there is a lot more here than a blog post), but the next thing we know, Peter is reaching out to Jesus, asking Him to save him from the sea.

And I love this.

I LOVE THIS (I’m fairly certain Peter would have loved italics and bold, capital letters)

Scripture says this:

“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.” (Matthew 14:31)



We see this word approximately 30 times in the New Testament, and one of the other occasions is when we read about the way Peter responded when he first heard the voice of the Lord.

Remember? He immediately dropped his net to follow. No dilly-dallying. You called out to me and I responded right away. Jesus is doing the same here, and I can imagine that as His arm dove into the deep, Peter might have remembered what it was like to be a fishermen in desperate need of a Savior.

I know I do.

Peter wasn’t born with the name “Peter,” but rather, “Simon.” Jesus Himself named him Peter, meaning, “the rock.”

Does it surprise you at all that Jesus chose a man like Peter to be a “rock” of the faith? After all, let’s not forget what Peter had yet to do at this point. At the same dinner that Jesus washes his feet, He tells Peter that he will deny Him three times. Peter argues that passionately, saying he would rather die than deny Christ (Not just, “I won’t do that, Lord,” but “I WOULD RATHER DIE!” Well, at least he’s consistent).

I can’t help but wince when I read those words, because as we know, all the passion in that moment didn’t translate when Peter was on the spot a few hours later. He did, in fact, deny His Christ three times, and when he heard the rooster crow, he remembered the Lord’s words. He wept bitterly as he considered his betrayal.

Three times, he says he doesn’t know Him. And I’m sure he said it with all the intensity that characterized his life.  What must it have been like, on that dark night, as Peter considered that he had been too weak to defend his King? As the Lord was beaten, bloody, hung to die while mocked relentlessly-was Peter weeping over his actions somewhere else in the night?

We have no reason to believe he was at the crucifixion of Christ. Maybe he was still too terrified of what the crowds might do to someone who had been associated with Jesus. Or maybe he was swallowed by his shame, his regret too profound to even move towards the cross.

Have you ever felt a shame that told you that you weren’t worthy to be near the cross? I hasten to guess that you have. The enemy of our souls wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m afraid.

Regardless of where he was in that particular moment, it isn’t the last we will hear from Peter. Not by a long-shot, in fact. He will rise to become a great evangelist, proclaiming the name of Christ to people everywhere, no doubt in boldness. But what about in-between? Did this man ever wonder if he could truly be forgiven for his sin?

The risen Christ reveals Himself to Mary the Magdalene, who runs to tell the apostles. For the most part, they don’t believe her. But there is one who does.

“But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” (Luke 24: 12

I would imagine it was immediately, wouldn’t you?

Maybe he had the same thought I have, many times over.

He is real.

And that means there is still a chance for me to dedicate the rest of my life to Him, no matter how many times I have failed Him in the past.

Just today, as I read the words I am about to share with you, I cried in the corner of a coffee shop over the power of what the Lord chose for Simon Peter. Suffice it to be said, God is a phenomenal writer-never missing the imagery and symbolism that brings you to your knees in worship. It’s not lost on me, and I pray it isn’t lost on you either.

Peter knows in theory that Jesus has risen from the dead. He has heard the stories and while he believes on some intellectual level, he hasn’t experienced Him in person. If this was a movie playing, wouldn’t you long to know what happened next? Wouldn’t you be curled up in your chair, wondering if he would ever have the chance to speak to Jesus again?

Maybe it’s just me. Say it’s not just me.

In the 21st chapter of John, we have the scene that, for me, sketches out the beauty of the Gospel in a way that no chapters of my own life can disagree with…


(To be continued very soon… I’m pretty sure 1500 words is well over the daily blog reading limit:) Oh how I love the word of God…)

Audrey, Book Recommendation, devotional

It Was Love…

**Updated with link to the Children’s Bible…***
As you can all imagine, the last week or so has been a tangled mess of emotions, and with the combination of an incredible Good Friday message and a beautiful Easter, I feel more peace than I have in awhile.
The Lord spoke to me the other night as I was reading the girls the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. I talk about this Children’s Bible often because I really think it has impacted them.  They recall the most beautiful stories in scripture effortlessly, and when I read it I understand why.  In fact, part of the way through my reading, I literally stopped mid-sentence and had to compose myself because the words were breathtaking.  Here is an excerpt from the Bible…
They nailed Jesus to the cross.

“Father, forgive them, ” Jesus gasped. “They don’t understand what they are doing.”

“You say you have come to rescue us!” people shouted. “But you can’t even rescue yourself!”

But they were wrong. Jesus could have rescued himself.  A legion of angels would have flown to his side-if he’d called.

“If you were really the Son of God, you could just climb down off that cross!” they said.

And of course they were right.  Jesus could have just climbed down.  Actually, he could have just said a word and made it all stop.  Like when he healed the little girl.  And stilled the storm.  And fed 5000 people.

But Jesus stayed.

You see, they didn’t understand. It wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus there.

It was love.

For some reason, I hadn’t quite thought it through in those terms, and I was rendered speechless by the infinite power that was denied for the sake of love.
It is, for me, one of the simplest and most powerful ways to present the Gospel, even stretching into our lives today.
“Angie, why do you choose to be crucified with Christ? You have the choice to abandon it all…just walk away and say that this whole thing is too hard.  You need a break. You aren’t strong enough to feel the scabs forming over and the taste of blood in your mouth…”

Suddenly it was very clear to me that it has never been the nails that held me here.
It has been love.
Deep, desperate, longing love for the One Who was mocked on my behalf. And worse yet, I have been that voice at times in my life. 
And this year, I realized that since the day I first heard His name, I had two choices.
Be crucified with Him, or climb down.
I have felt the sting of death deeply, for the first time in my life, and there was never the option to walk away. Not because I couldn’t, but rather, because I was blessed in the most unexpected way to invite the nails that held me to Him. 
“Sweet child. The nails are not enough to hold you here. You can only live the life I am calling you to through the love I have given you. The love which now has taken up residence in your very being, and makes the wounds bearable…”

He beckons us to nestle deep into the brokenness and find inexplicable comfort. He woos us to touch His bleeding side so we will know that we are not alone. 
I can tell you that I have done this, and I have been rescued from a pit so deep I could not fathom a way out of it. You may be down there right now, begging for mercy and for relief.  I understand, and I hurt for you, but this year, I have learned about a part of myself I didn’t know existed, and as crazy as it sounds, I want you to think about it and see if it makes any sense to you.
We who are followers of the King must daily wake up and look in the mirror, seeing our reflection with a crown of thorns balanced on our heads. We must feel the burden of the cross at different points in our life, and with the power of Christ Himself, we will look solemnly back at ourselves and say, “I am choosing to bear the crown because I cannot live without the love…”

That’s easy to say, isn’t it?  Will you trust me enough to try it? Tell Him, the One who knows your deepest fears and most secret desperation, that you are choosing the thorns. Everyday.
And one day, not so far from now, I believe we will be made complete, and pain will cease completely.
Oh, Lord, come quickly.
But until then, make your life an offering, and allow the hands of the Father to carry You through what you think is impossible.
I assure you that through it, He will show You His boundless, freeing love, which allows us the strength to make it another day.
And another day.
And then, one glorious day, He will call for us.
I can’t prove it to you, but I know it deep, deep within myself.
The stone has been moved.
He is Risen.
And I love Him, even in the excruciating pain I feel. Honestly, if you are trying to pursue relationship out of forced conviction, you will miss out on the glory of falling in love with the Maker of your soul. There is such a difference between religion and relationship. I could not have survived without the latter, I assure you.
Because, you see, the thing about the nails in this life is that they are temporary. We choose to bear them because we know that we will lay our crowns at His feet in the blink of an eye. We will join Him for eternity, and will worship the One Who was scarred on our behalf.
I am praying for each of you as you arise tomorrow morning. I am praying that you will see the crown of thorns as a promise. Yes, it is painful, and yes, sometimes we struggle under the weight of it, but no, it will not defeat us. 
And that is a promise I needed to remember as I celebrated what would have been Audrey’s First Birthday.  It isn’t something superhuman or overly spiritual, just the daily remembrance of a life lived out off the depths of love.
We praise Your name, Lord. For You are Who You say You are.
And that is enough.