Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Do you have Resilient Intelligence (RI)?

I was recently asked to speak on resilience. I wondered how the person who asked me to speak had come to the conclusion that I was a resilient person. I found myself asking myself, “Do I have resilience?” By definition, a person with resilience has the ability to bounce back in difficult circumstances. As I reflected on various life circumstances, it occurred to me that God has allowed me to face some very unique circumstances that reveal that I have the ability to bounce back. I realized I am a resilient person. One moment that wrought great havoc in our lives occurred when Tropical Storm Francis dumped 25 inches of water on Houston in less than an hour. Greg and I were sound asleep when the phone rang. When I picked it up my sister-in-law was frantic, “Get up and prepare! A tornado is coming toward our neighborhood!” We lived in the same subdivision, but in different city grids. It was 5:30 am in the morning and I was almost six months pregnant with Grant. Fast movement was not on my list of things to do at 5:30 am. Greg jumped up to go see what he could see, and he came back running into the room before I had fully stood up and said, “Forget the tornado! We are flooding! We need to get out of here!” Greg immediately started telling me what to gather. It was all very fast. I packed up a bag for Mikayla, who was two at the time, while Greg packed up important documents we would need. He had the forethought to place some files in the attic. 

We had just bought and had delivered a few days before our first pieces of real wood furniture. They were in the garage because Greg was in the process of staining them. I do not know how, but the two of us lifted them onto sawhorses so they would not be standing in the water. One hour later when Greg went to open the door, it was already two feet high outside. We realized that we couldn’t open our door without flooding our home. He ran and flipped off the circuit breaker so that we wouldn’t risk getting electrocuted and we called our neighbors to get them up. We had two dogs and a cat. There was no way we could manage all of them, but we had two floaties and a little life preserver my mom had just bought for Mikayla that summer. So, Greg climbed through the window and held the floaties as I passed the dogs and Mikayla through. Somehow, I hefted myself up over the ledge and out the window. 

At this point, the water was now waste deep. Greg carried all of the bags while I carried Mikayla. We had the two dogs laying perfectly still on the floaties between us as we began our journey of wading out to safe ground. We had no idea how far we would have to go, but we hoped to make it to our family that lived in different sections of the subdivision. It was so surreal. Mikayla kept crying, “Swim! Mommy, swim!” We passed by neighbors that refused to leave. I started to cry when I saw Samantha in her diaper looking out the window at us crying. I wondered, “Will I ever see her again?” We kept walking. We discovered that fire ant mounds were floating toward us and we had to dodge them. It was the craziest thing. They were fully intact and flowing rapidly with the water. We were very alert to the debris, tree branches, and the possibility of snakes because we lived right off the bayou. Fortunately, for us as we approached my parents house about eight city blocks away the water was only up to their front porch. It had not reached the inside of the house. When it was all said and done our house filled up on the inside about two feet deep with sewer and mud. And yes, we had a few surprise moments with snakes. Anything the water touched was destroyed. Our cat was rescued by a speed boat and we found ourselves to be homeless and very uncertain about what tomorrow would entail. 

What held me together? What held us together? How were we able to bounce back? It was a devasting time. Our neighborhood looked like a war zone. All but three families on our street ended up divorced because the journey of returning to normal was more than they could push through. The ability to push through starts in our thoughts. It was our faith in God and the truth that God uses all things for our good when we are in Christ Jesus that gave me hope when it seemed so bleak. I immediately started praying and asking God what He wanted from us in this moment. I remembered the that the God of all comfort and compassion will pour into you so that you can pour that same comfort and compassion into others (2 Corinthians 1:3-11). So, I asked God to show us how to pour out His comfort and compassion to others. I also started praying and asking God to show me how to give Him glory through this and how to give Greg glory. These were the core spiritual truths that made me strong inside when I felt very weak. I held onto them and believed them to be true. Some might call this positivity, but I call it faith walking. I believe that my faith walking made me resilient. 

The other thing that made us resilient was our family. When we were wading out, we knew that if we could get to our family, we would be safe. We knew our family would take care of us and help us through this even if they were going through it too! Fortunately, we were the only ones in our family of four families that lived in that subdivision that flooded. Our family carried us. We knew if we could get to them, we would not sink. It was our family community that made us strong when we were weak. Our lives were filled with hard labor for many weeks and lots of rebuilding for nearly seven months. In that time our family housed us, fed us, helped us, did laundry, hauled garbage, packed up items that were salvageable and comforted us. And when little Grant was born everyone took turns caring for the baby. 

That first night as Greg and I lay in bed with our two-year-old snuggled up sleeping and our baby nestled deeply in my womb, I whispered to Greg, “Babe, we have all we need. I could not be more content than I am right now. We are together and we are safe. We are going to be okay.” I believe without a doubt that another reason I stayed resilient was because I made a conscious choice to think from Greg’s perspective and other peoples perspectives of what they must be going through and this caused me to want to serve others. I made a choice to find ways to help others. Greg found ways to help others, too. So, when our church started showing up to help us, we started sharing people to our neighbor’s homes so that they had help, too. This gave us a sense of purpose and healing. It helped build our hope because we were able to get outside of our own pain and consider another’s pain. This grew a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude in us for others and each other. We discovered the gift of gratitude. 

Resilience is something that we all want, but the reality is that resilience is not something you even know you have until you are pushed beyond your limits and discover you must find a way to bounce back and push through. I remember walking into church two days later to give a testimony for an event coming up called, Friend Day and thinking, “No one in the church knows that my life had changed. I am not who I was when I was asked to share this story, but I will not disappoint them. It doesn’t matter what I have just been through, I have a chance to encourage my church to become a people that seeks to build friendships with someone different than them.” I wanted my church body to see that I was still able to see the value in being a good friend to those around me even when I was hurting. I look back now and realize that if I could have put a word to it that day, resilience would have been a good word to describe what I hoped to model. 

Resilience is born in adversity. It receives its ability to bounce back through faith. It is empowered by community to push through and emboldened by serving others to keep moving forward. Resilience is forged in the battlefield of the mind. It does not allow itself to settle for being a victim or a whiner. It makes the choice to seek God, live in community, and serve others even when it hurts. Resilience when practiced births the gift of gratitude and thanksgiving. Resilience finds hope and pursues hope at all costs, and this is why it has bounce back strength. Adversity grows our resilient intelligence. Do you have RI? Are you willing to pray for it and ask God to grow you?

Monday, January 18, 2021

New and Old Treasure

I marked this verse some 20 years ago in my Bible and just read my prayer and right now I am overwhelmed by the old and new treasures God is pulling out of me. The Quest study Bible says that people who have been instructed about the kingdom of God are like home owners that have the gift of hospitality. They share all of their belongings both old and new to refresh others. May the wisdom of the past and presence bring forth refreshment that heals souls!  Amen

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Where is your inheritance?

"Spare your people, LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" (Joel 2:17). 

I realize that this verse is a cry of the prophet Joel for God to move in behalf of the nation Israel during a terrible time when locusts destroyed the land. It is a desperate plea for a remember me, remember my people, and remember, we are Your inheritance. I was praying this thought when I began to praise God because He has chosen to call His children, His inheritance! What a beautiful reminder when our contemporary situation of COVID and political unrest seem distraught with destruction and implosion. Joel used the temporay pain to call the people to remembrance and repentance. 

"Rend your hearts, not your garments. Return to the LORD your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love" (Joel 2:13).

But, He also used it as a reminder to the LORD, we are Your inheritance! The nations are watching! Let them see You are at work among Your people! Now that is not just an Old Testament thought. It is also a New Testament promise. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ...(1 Peter 1:3-12).

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:11-14).

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32).

Do you see that as a believer of Jesus we also have an inheritance that is imperishable! Yes, we will face trials of many kinds, but we must remember where our hope resides. It is not in people, programs, health, politics, or even possessions. Our inheritance is eternal, imperishable and guaranteed. So this morning as I pray, I am praising God for the remembrance that I am His inheritance and He is mine. So, when I am asked "Where is your God?" I can say very securely, "He is with me. He has not left me. He walks with me on this journey through COVID and political unrest. I look to Him for my hope and deliverance." 

What about you?  Do you know where your hope rests?  Do you know you have an eternal inheritance? Do you know the blessing of being called God's inheritance? If not, read the verses again and pray they become true in you. Do you need to rend your heart, repent, and return to God? Do you know God is a compassionate and loving God? Do you know the hope found in Jesus? Can you say with confidence you have the Holy Spirit at work in you? 

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints... (Ephesians 1:18).

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Why is it so important to listen to or read the Bible?

Why is it so important to listen or or read the Bible? I get asked this question enough that it is worthy of answering. Sometimes. It is asked in sarcasm, but other times in a plea for understanding.

This is a great question considering we all have so many things vying for our time and energy and the fact that we are living in a time of Biblic illiteracy. When I did my research for my doctorate Dr. George Hunter of Asbury Seminary said that America was nearly 80% Biblically illiterate. This is sad considering that the Bible helps us to grow in our relationship with God so we know how to be in relationship with man.

The Bible is a sacred text. It is holy and set apart because it tells the history of how God interacts with people. The Bible is God breathed and it teaches us and equips us (2 Timothy 3:6-7). The Bible judges our thoughts and the motives of our heart (Hebrews 4:2). The Bible endures forever (Isaiah 40:8). The Bible blesses us when we listen to it and obey it (Luke 11:28). The Bible is for all people because God loves the whole world (John 3:16). 

Have you ever listened to or read the Bible? Why or why not? Would you just listen and see what He might reveal to you? I know for myself that the Bible is what radically changed my life because through reading it and obeying it I got to know God and how much He loves me.

Remember, to be in God's Word, to be with Jesus, to be transformed! 

Sunday, January 10, 2021


I woke up this morning pondering the word resilience. It was the last thing I talked about before I went to sleep last night. I was sharing with Grant my outline for a speaking engagement coming up in February. The topic is resilience. When I woke up I had the this visual of a tree that was deeply rooted with strong character traits that helped it dig in deep into the earth so that when the winds blew it was steady. I was reminded of verses and character traits that have helped me in moments of resilience. The tree's leaves moved from green, to yellow, to red, to brown, to nothing on the branches. This showed that resilience that is built on faith and the character of God can withstand the seasons of fruit bearing and even barrenness because its roots are deep. What character trait or verse helped you stand resilient through the seasons you have walked through?  I would love to know!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Fight the fear of being alone

In this podcast, I share a moment when I felt very alone and how God became my comfort. Jennifer and I discuss how Hagar struggled with feeling alone, too.  

Click on this to hear the story: Fighting the fear of being alone

Check out Wholly Loved Podcast: Faith over Fear. Thanking God for Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey,  and Shellie Arnold. I am learning so much from this podcast team. All three are prolific writers. Go Google them! It is so much fun to sit and talk over life and Scripture together.

The spiritual discipline of storytelling

God showed me how He took a struggle and fear into a spiritual disciple that became an act of worship. 

Click on this to hear what God taught me: The spiritual disciple of telling a Bible story