When a Good Thing is Bad for You

This morning, yellowjackets descend upon the raspberry patch. Perhaps they’ve nested down below the stalks in the ground. I see so many of them greedily clinging to the ripe raspberries, and I back off, bowl in hand, and run back to the house.

I think of those sweet berries with all those yellowjackets on their backs.

I know these insects. I know all about them. Yellowjackets sting repeatedly and aggressively; they target and pursue. A yellowjacket attack brings the worst kind of pain. It lingers and swells.

Years ago, at Camp Greystone, my campers and I walked through a yellowjacket nest hidden in the mulch. As they ran for safety–and I stayed to ensure they all made it far away–I endured six stings up my leg. The pain nearly knocked me out. That summer, I learned of my allergy to yellowjackets: the hives, the labored breathing, the epi-pen that I’d now carry for my whole life, wherever I go.

Someone else can pick my luscious raspberries. Someone else can enjoy that harvest.

Sometimes, a good thing isn’t good for you. It’s not where you should be; it’s not going to bring you life or peace. In fact, that good thing might carry with it something toxic, something that just might kill you.

I remember this when it seems like God withholds some kind of good thing. It might not be good me.


Join the Launch Team!

It’s time! It’s time! I would like to invite you to join my Launch Team for Chosen for Christ! You’ll join a private Facebook book with a link to sign up for your FREE BOOK, beautiful sharable images, and Facebook Live event with me . I’m looking for friends who will promote this book and write a review on amazon especially!! Book releases Oct. 2! I LOVE YOU GUYS!! Once you follow this link, sign up on the page to receive your free book!!


Strength in Helplessness

I loved reading Hannah Whitall Smith’s words today in God is Enough. She describes us as instruments to be used in the hands of God. I love her analysis of that imagery because, as she says, “the moment resistance is felt in any tool, the moment it refuses to move just as the master wants, that moment, it becomes unfit for use.” She further writes this beautiful sentence about tools and instruments:

The strength of an instrument lies in its helplessness.

How wonderful to see ourselves helpless and pliable in the hands of God, flopping down into that great palm with nothing to give and nothing to contribute to the work God wants to do–except our surrender. We’re like a hammer or a saw that only works as intended when picked up and animated by the craftsman who made the tool and knows how to use it. He also knows the best use for a particular instrument, just like a musician who plays the right notes, in the right way, at the right time.

We stay helpless and pliable; He plays the tune and uses us in the manner for which we were made.



All Your Tomatoes: Oven-Dried Tomatoes All Winter

I return from my speaking event and realize it’s one of my favorite times in the garden: the tomato harvest.

I slice the tomatoes, mix them with garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and all the chopped herbs still in the garden (oregano, thyme, and basil). I spread them in a pan and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

Then, you slowly dry them in a 275 degree oven for 3-5 hours depending on how dried you want them.

Afterwards, store them in the freezer for whenever you want wonderful tomatoes concentrated with amazing flavor. We defrost them for chili, a pizza topping, lasagna, spaghetti, and for delicious Italian sandwiches. Dried tomatoes also make great after school snacks in the winter if you serve them with Italian bread, cheese, and olive oil.

I love storing for the winter and bringing a little summer out during the snowy cold season.


A Wonderful Event

I loved my time speaking to the women of Grace Fellowship Church in Johnson City, TN. It’s always amazing to see people respond to God’s word. It’s incedible to see the Holy Spirit at work. It’s real. 

Here are some photos of the event! 


The Verb I’m Thinking About

Today a friend I haven’t seen in a while asked me, “So what’s your favorite verb these days?”

I love that I have friends that ask such questions.

And I love that God made me the kind of person who actually has an answer to such questions.

I tell him that I read a sentence with a new verb I’ve never used before and how I’d been thinking about this one sentence all week. It’s when Robert Coleman writes this in The Master Plan of Evangelism:

Jesus proportioned his life to those he wanted to train.


When I read this verb proportioned, I picture a pie chart. I picture Jesus doling out his time and attention to His priorities each day. He doesn’t waste time or give too much attention in the wrong places. He worked, ate, rested, taught, prayed. He moved about His day in a proportioned way.

I wondered if my life’s pie chart of time and attention would represent my key priorities. Even more, do I even know how to define my key priorities?

What great personal development questions:

  1. What are your key priorities?

  2. How will you proportion your life to match the time and attention you want to give to these priorities?



A Peek Into the Classroom

I loved today! What a great day for teaching. I turned on some music of students volunteering their favorite songs. Today, we listened to Van Halen’s Jump and then Jimmy Eat World’s, The Middle. We began class with a name game: your current breakfast obsession. The majority of the class announced their love of breakfast sandwiches–bagel, egg, bacon, avocado, cheese–and coffee. I tried to convert them to my newfound love of refrigerator oats; I only won over a few sympathetic souls. (Every name game relates to a skill we’re building, and this time, it’s precise characterization: you as a character who eats breakfast.)

Next, I asked for five volunteers to read their “I Am From” poems that we composed as a pre-writing activity to mine our lives for settings, characters, and events that might shape the professional signature story we write. We learned about the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of hometowns like Brooklyn, Pittsburg, Philly, and New Jersey. We clapped and cheered for all the excellent poems.

We watched a video on what makes a great story from the advice of leading filmmakers and producers, and we discussed authenticity, conflict, audience, vulnerability, education, and transformation. We talked about how to tell a life story of transformation that transforms others by teaching them something and inviting them to somehow change.

We then looked at a presentation on five ways to create complexity in a story by using examples of key signature stories from students in the past who grappled with anything from challenging stereotypes, undergoing some kind of conversion experience, or simply making a connection between two otherwise seemingly unrelated things.

By now, we needed a break to sit back and talk about our possible stories. We worked through a planning sheet. A few brave students announced their story ideas and allowed the class to weigh in on whether we’d want to hear a story like that.

And then, my favorite moment arrived: a grammar lesson on using strong verbs in narrative. We looked at before and after examples of dull writing that turned into something magical with vivid verbs and advanced grammar.

As class wrapped up, I introduced the homework assignment: to read more of our book Writing to Change the World (the chapters on the author’s own signature stories) and Russell Brand’s article in the Guardian called, “My Life Without Drugs.” We viewed a few video clips of Brand discussing his personal mission to help others understand a life of addiction.

Time’s up. They stream by, pausing to tell me about this or that possible story or to wonder why their grade wasn’t as high on their professional packet. I lean in and tell them what I’ll say all semester:

Your verbs. Your verbs make all the difference.


Midweek Reset

I normally wait till Saturday to clean the whole house, prep meals, and prepare something extra special for dinner. But lately, it feels as if waiting a full seven days to reset the house isn’t working as well.

Things devolve into chaos by Wednesday. By Wednesday, we all want to order pizza and just stay in pajamas for the rest of the week. By Wednesday, it feels like we’re the kind of tired that Friday normally brings on. Everything feels messy and blah.

So we try the midweek reset–a quick cleaning of the house and a hearty, special meal (fish tacos)–to encourage us for the remainder of the week. With a freshened home, we gain a freshened spirit.

We can do this! We can make it to the weekend!



God Fulfills His Purpose for Us

This morning, I read the comforting words of Psalm 57:2. David writes from a physical position of despair and distress, but from a spiritual position of victory and assurance of God’s faithfulness to Him. He’s in a cave. He’s fearing death as Saul pursues him. Yet he writes this:

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me.

Trusting that God will fulfill His purpose for His people brings comfort during times of confusion or fear. As I think of so many friends fearing a hurricane on this day, I pray for them that God will assure them of His purposes for them. As David continued to hide, then flee, from attack, he writes this in Psalm 59:9:

O my Strength, I watch for you. You, God, are my fortress, my loving God. God will go before me. . .

What wonderful promises to remember today.


When You Don’t Know the Way

Yesterday in church, I learned from a wise, praying man. He said this: “Jesus, when we don’t know the way to go, we know that You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” His quoting of John 14:6 made me think differently about times of confusion, indecision, or waiting. Jesus is the way we go. We go toward Him, our eyes fixed straight ahead.

Jesus is our plan, our direction, our focus. Jesus is the way we go. Whatever helps us move deeper into the life of Christ, into obedience, into worship, and into ministry—that is the way we go. We go that way because He is the way. 

I love thinking about Jesus as the way I’m going.