What Shouldn’t Be

I shouldn’t be here!” my daughter cried out, both angry and devastated that her roller derby team was about to skate for a second time at a tournament she was missing.

My daughter, in black, at a bout earlier in the year.

And true.

She should not have been home.  My own grief and anger rose up as I recalled the event that led to this moment.

How could someone be so negligent?   That Sunday before, on our way home from practice, our car was struck at an intersection.  The young driver was attempting to make a u-turn from the right lane. She was outraged that we happened to be in the left lane at the time. The impact was on my daughter’s side of the car giving her whiplash that left her with a persistent headache.

And that is life. It changes in an instant.

Shortly after our accident it was reported that three men were attacked while standing up for two young women being harassed on a train. How could they have known the aggressive man calling out racial and anti-muslim slurs would turn on them, fatally stabbing two of them?

The lives of their loved ones were forever changed in an instant.  They shouldn’t be here in the shadow of their unspeakable loss.  They shouldn’t have been writing obituaries and speaking with news outlets or planning memorial services.  One of the victims was 23, just 3 years older than my son and the other man, barely into his 50’s.

Why did this happen? An ancient question still asked by so many.

As I consider the reasons, I am reminded Proverbs 3:5: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Maybe there are things in life that will never make sense, that cannot be understood—the death of a child, a senseless murder, a cancer diagnosis, and yes, even a car accident that, if only temporarily, turns a few weeks up-side down.

Things may not always make sense, but with my faith and trust in God, I know that I will eventually make peace with all the changes life brings.

Praise God, I’m so grateful to be able to witness that same peace rising up in my daughter.


A Fat Slice of Humble Pie

A few times a year, I happily accept the invitation to preach at the church I attend.  Sunday morning a few weeks back, as I put the final touches on my sermon, thrilled with the ease at which it came together and ever so proud of the message, I said a little prayer that God might humble me.

Sermons, after all, shouldn’t be about the messenger.  Being in the pulpit isn’t about showcasing one’s speaking skills, or theological genius, or brilliant word-smithing. Preaching is about fading into the background while bringing to the forefront God’s word for God’s people.

Yet, there I was bubbling with pride as I saved my sermon and prepared to send it, reformatted for easy reading, from my laptop to the home computer for printing.  When the file couldn’t be opened, I figured it was a PC to Apple miscommunication.  When I attempted to open it again on my laptop, however, this is what I got:

corrupt file

Crap. I had just 30 minutes before worship, and here was Microsoft Word apologizing because it found a “problem” with the contents of my sermon.  And more than that, the file was “corrupt.”  I wasn’t expecting prayers to be answered like this!

Funny…very funny, God.  I get it.  Perhaps it was not the file, but my heart, that was problematic? Is that what you’re saying?

Uncertain if I should laugh or cry (I’m pretty sure I did both), I anxiously printed the original file, madly highlighted phrases and circled key words to aid my eyes in tracking, and raced to church with literally a minute to spare.  Thankfully with the overload of adrenaline, there was no room in my heart for self-glorification during worship. Until the end of the service, that is.  I found pride starting to resurface as I walked down the isle during the postlude. Maybe it was the smiles on people’s faces, or the woman who rose from her pew as I passed by, or the gentleman who reached out to shake my hand, but there was pride, taking my heart over again. I was beaming. And as I awaited at the back of the church, ready to receive my endless stream of fans, the unlikely happened.  The fire alarm went off and at once everyone was required to leave the building.

Seriously?! The fire alarm? Oh…that’s a good one, God.  Aren’t You clever!  No accolades for me, I see.

It still makes me giggle to recall the sensation of pride rapidly deflating.

Right. This is not about me. Not my message, but Yours, God.  Not my words, but that of the Holy Spirit touching hearts and impressing minds.

With word that all was clear, I made my way down to our fellowship hall for coffee, grateful for the few compliments I did receive while outside the church.  No sooner did I fill my cup did a favorite parishioner of mine gleefully approach me. “I could listen to you all day long, Rebecca!” Her words, so kind…and heartfelt…and…. just enough tinder to spark the flame of pride again.

Right in that moment, I kid you not, right then…the fire alarm went off a second time.

Oh, for the love of God! 

Would you just give me a fat slice of that humble pie already? I’m sure it would go great with this cup of coffee!

Friends, when doing God’s work it is never, ever about us.

I feel blessed that in the weeks that followed, similar messages surfaced. We are to do things for God’s glory, not our own.  We are God’s messengers. God’s servants. God’s light in the world.

It’s not about us.

Ironically, my sermon topic that day was about clothing ourselves in the garments God has chosen for us, God’s “holy and dearly loved” people. “…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…And over all these virtues put on love.” (Colossians 3:12,14).

Eating my fat slice of pie, and drinking coffee, the irony did not escape me.




No Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” – 1 John 4:18

635897229513164483-866846937_heartI am not afraid.

I will not let the media frenzy lure me into the cesspool of fear mongering.

Neither will I let my own fears rule my heart and mind in this tumultuous time.


Instead, I choose to be bound by my faith to reach out and build bridges, not erect physical walls and emotional barriers against the Muslim, the Migrant, the Refugee, the Opposing Political Party, the Other.

As a Christian, I am called to love…even my enemies. Even the politicians who condone division and stir up strife, however difficult, I am called to pray for and to love them.  For those with dramatically different views of the world as me, I must, as a Christian, pray for and love them, too. For those who carry out hate crimes or acts of terror…yes…I will lift even them up in prayer and love them. (Luke 6:27-28)

Today and every day, I will step further into my call as a Christian to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8). I will work even harder to forgive others (Colossians 3:13); I will recall that when I show kindness to “the least of these brothers and sisters,” I do so to Christ as well (Matthew 25:31-40). I will strive more and more to rejoice, pray, and be grateful in all times (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  I will put bitterness, anger, and slander aside making “Kindness-Compassion-Forgiveness” my mantra as I make my way through each day, with each soul that comes my way. (Ephesians 4:32)

I will withhold from judgment and remember that it is not mine to carry out. I must consider my own actions or inactions instead (Matthew 7:1-5).  I will trust that no matter how crazy the world appears, assurance rests in my trust in God (Psalm 27:1).

I am a Child of the Most High called to do my part to bring peace, kindness, and civility back into fashion; to show others the profound powers of love and forgiveness to mend the endless divides between individuals, groups, and nations, bringing much needed healing to our fragmented world.

I am a follower of Christ, a believer in the Way, and I am NOT afraid.


(I originally published this March 20. After the recent shooting in Orlando, I felt the need to revisit, revise, and publish it again…)



Running on Fear

no feeding the fearI’ve been running on fear all week.


It is not the best emotional fuel, but it was propelling me never the less further into panic when the summer temperatures starting rising.

With high 90s looming, I told several folks on Friday I’d probably be curled up in the fetal position in my air conditioned bedroom for the duration of the weekend….Truth be told, that was the fear speaking.

You see, I have Multiple Sclerosis, and heat is NOT my friend.

I got caught off guard this time last year when we had a heat wave, and didn’t get my AC into my bedroom soon enough for the necessary cool, restful nights. Add to that the untimely death of the air-conditioning in my car (which I use throughout each day in my work as a hospice chaplain) and it was the perfect storm for an exacerbation—which is exactly what happened.

And unfortunately my flare up invited all my symptoms to the party: extreme fatigue, balance issues, vertigo, weakness in my legs, speech issues, brain fog, as well as muscle and eye pain. I had to cut my work hours way back for a few weeks and only returned to “normal” a few months later. I’ll be honest…It sucked!

Flash forward a year and Fear is in the driver’s seat. It is so scary to experience a break down of the body at so many levels. I’d been on the verge of tears several times this week frightened of another attack.

But here’s the deal.  I know my thoughts can directly impact my body. And that’s just as bad, if not worse, for me as the heat. I needed to get my head in the game and fast.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.”   Isaiah 43:1


I began ruminating on these words from scripture and “Fear not” quickly became my mantra.

It became my response to all the questions Fear had to ask of me: What if the heat really does restrict you to your bedroom leaving you non-productive all weekend? What if you have another exacerbation? What if you loose more time at work? What if another flare up leaves you worse off?

Fear not. Fear Not. FEAR NOT.


It is Saturday evening as I finish this post.  The temperature did not go as high today as expected for which I am grateful.  I got important stuff done and even spent time outside. Tonight I give thanks to the One who teaches me every day to breathe and trust and surrender.

Today I refused to allow Fear to run my life. I realize now that my faith is bigger than that.  My connection to the Holy is stronger than that. I have come through too much in the past to put Fear in control of my future.

I have been called by name, and I am NOT afraid!



Why I’m Praying for Donald Trump

In just over an hour, Donald Trump will be speaking at a rally just 6 blocks from my home. And despite the ever-so convenient 10-minute walk, I will NOT be attending—for so many reasons.

More than anything, his tone and rudimentary rhetoric trouble me and strongly go against my Christian values.

My faith instructs me to welcome the stranger, not to inflame division or exclusion. As a follower of Christ, I am called to show kindness and respect, and refrain from taking cheap shot and condoning maltreatment of others.  And yes, I am expected to not judge—a character defect I’m working on all the time.

Most heavily on my mind in this hour is the expectation I pray without ceasing. 

I consider both word and action to be part of that unceasing prayer and believe I am faithful to this on-going expectation.

But here’s the rub for countless faithful people including myself.  As a Christian I am also called to pray for my enemies.  And although I cannot consider Mr. Trump a direct enemy of mine,  I do notice my jaw clench and chest tighten when I think of all that he has uttered and all he represents at this time.

And so, like it or not—challenging or not—as a Christian I must pray for Donald Trump.

I pray then that he will experience the transformative power of forgiveness and humility.  I pray, as my daughter suggested, that he be given eyes to see the ways in which his words and actions hurt others.  I pray that should he be elected as our next president that he makes decisions that are wise for the nation, not made in order to defend or bolster his ego.

Do I believe prayer will change him?

I believe in miracles. Many hardened men and women have been transformed into compassionate, sacrificial, loving individuals. Realistically, however?  A spiritual make-over for Donald Trump is probably a long ways off. In truth, only the Holy knows what awaits him.

But here is what I do know.

I know that in praying for Donald Trump, I, myself, will be renewed in the Spirit.  I know that through prayer the seeds of hatred I’ve allowed to be planted in my heart won’t take root.  I trust that my prayers will be answered—most likely in unexpected ways—and that someday, those prayers might even be reflected in a new creation found in Donald Trump.

So join me in prayer in this uncertain time.

Pray for the candidate that has your vote. And especially pray for the candidate that causes your blood to boil.

Pray without ceasing. And let your own heart be renewed in the process!!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                                              ~Philippians 4: 4-7